Dbytes #536 (10 August 2022)

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


“Across seven critical issues that enjoy substantial scientific consensus, as well as attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines and mitigation measures like mask wearing and social distancing, results indicate that those with the highest levels of opposition have the lowest levels of objective knowledge but the highest levels of subjective knowledge.”
Nicholas Light et al, Science Advances
(2022)


In this issue of Dbytes

1. From COVID-19 to Green Recovery with natural capital accounting
2. Free market think tank (the IPA) tries to whitewash coral bleaching claims
3. Trees are overrated
4. Triggering the safeguard or safeguarding the trigger: Climate, large emitters and the EPBC Act

5. A global analysis of factors predicting conservationists’ values
6. Too many ways to help: How to promote climate change mitigation behaviors
7. Protecting 30% of Australia’s land and sea by 2030 sounds great – but it’s not what it seems

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1. From COVID-19 to Green Recovery with natural capital accounting

The COVID-19 pandemic and related social and economic emergencies induced massive public spending and increased global debt. Economic recovery is now an opportunity to rebuild natural capital alongside financial, physical, social and human capital, for long-term societal benefit. Yet, current decision-making is dominated by economic imperatives and information systems that do not consider society’s dependence on natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides. New international standards for natural capital accounting (NCA) are now available to integrate environmental information into government decision-making. By revealing the effects of policies that influence natural capital, NCA supports identification, implementation and monitoring of Green Recovery pathways, including where environment and economy are most positively interlinked.

From COVID-19 to Green Recovery with natural capital accounting | SpringerLink

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2. Free market think tank (the IPA) tries to whitewash coral bleaching claims

“You cannot extrapolate the amount of coral at one small section of reef to the whole of John Brewer Reef; it is 15 kilometres in circumference. Nor can you make an assessment on the health of an ecosystem the size of Italy by just looking at one reef.” Coral cover is only one metric used to measure reef health. Other indicators include coral diversity, size, structure and assemblages of corals, which Dr Emslie said can take decades to recover to their pre-disturbance levels.

“The IPA’s campaign around coral bleaching and reef health has no scientific basis.”

Free market think tank tries to whitewash coral bleaching claims – RMIT University

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3. Trees are overrated

Preserving the world’s great expanses of grass could be essential to combatting climate change.

Trees Are Overrated – The Atlantic

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4. Triggering the safeguard or safeguarding the trigger: Climate, large emitters and the EPBC Act

If used together, these two mechanisms (a safeguard and a trigger) would be seeking to occupy much the same regulatory space. That’s why I argued that a climate trigger should be limited to actions that are not caught by the safeguard mechanism, such as land clearing. However, there are some benefits that are better delivered by one or other of the two mechanisms. This leads me to suggest that we can have the best of both, provided we ensure that the two mechanisms dovetail with each other and so avoid duplication.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/08/10/triggering-the-safeguard-or-safeguarding-the-trigger-climate-large-emitters-and-the-epbc-act/

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5. A global analysis of factors predicting conservationists’ values

The authors present the first global analysis of the relationship between conservationist’s values and a broad range of conservationists’ characteristics, categorised into their educational and professional background, geographical context and personal experiences in childhood and adulthood. The results demonstrate that 13 of conservationists’ characteristics are statistically related to their values regarding the place of people. Science, capitalism and nonhuman entities in conservation, which has important implications for current debates on diversity and inclusion within the conservation community.

A global analysis of factors predicting conservationists’ values – Luque‐Lora – People and Nature – Wiley Online Library

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6. Too many ways to help: How to promote climate change mitigation behaviors

Does presenting people with many ways they can mitigate climate change reduce their pro-environmental behavior? We test for mitigation overload using a two wave survey experiment. People feel less efficacious when exposed to a large number of easy to accomplish mitigation tasks. People feel less efficacious when given too many ways to stop climate change that must be done regularly to be successful. After two weeks after seeing long lists of easy options reported engaging in fewer mitigation behaviors.

Too many ways to help: How to promote climate change mitigation behaviors – ScienceDirect

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7. Protecting 30% of Australia’s land and sea by 2030 sounds great – but it’s not what it seems

Plibersek promised to protect 30% of Australia’s land and waters by 2030. Australia committed to this under the previous government last year, joining 100 other countries that have signed onto this “30 by 30” target. While this may be a worthy commitment, it’s not a big leap. Indeed, we’ve already gone well past the ocean goal, with 45% protected. And, at present, around 22% of Australia’s land mass is protected in our national reserve system. To get protected lands up to 30% through the current approach will mean relying on reserves created by non-government organisations and Indigenous people, rather than more public reserves like national parks. This approach will not be sufficient by itself. The problem is, biodiversity loss and environmental decline in Australia have continued – and accelerated – even as our protected areas have grown significantly in recent decades. After years of underfunding, our protected areas urgently need proper resourcing. Without that, protected area targets don’t mean much on the ground.

https://theconversation.com/protecting-30-of-australias-land-and-sea-by-2030-sounds-great-but-its-not-what-it-seems-187435?

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #535 (3 August 2022)

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


“On nearly every measure of biodiversity, Australia is in poor shape and going backwards.”
Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek,
address to the National Biodiversity Conference address

In this issue of Dbytes

1. New Practice Guide: Nature-Based Solutions Must Play a Crucial Role in Asia-Pacific Economic Development
2. Nature Loss and Sovereign Credit Ratings
3. Nature’s deteriorating health is threatening the wellbeing of Australians, the State of the Environment report finds
4. How we will fight climate change
5. How scientists are working for greater inclusion of Indigenous knowledge
6. The myth of the optimal state: adaptive cycles and the birth of resilience thinking
7. Scientists discover cause of catastrophic mangrove destruction in Gulf of Carpentaria

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1. New Practice Guide: Nature-Based Solutions Must Play a Crucial Role in Asia-Pacific Economic Development

This  Practitioner’s Guide takes a process-based approach to a longstanding problem: how do we ensure that innovative green and traditional gray project investments can be compared effectively and fairly? based on cost, performance and longevity?

https://www.alliance4water.org/blog-posts/new-practice-guide-nature-based-solutions-crucial-role-asia-pacific-economic-development

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2. Nature Loss and Sovereign Credit Ratings

Biodiversity loss, decline of ecosystem services, and overall environmental degradation can hit economies through multiple channels. The combined macroeconomic consequences can impact sovereign creditworthiness. Yet, the methodologies published and applied by leading credit rating agencies (CRAs) do not explicitly incorporate biodiversity and nature-related risks. Omitting them may ultimately undermine market stability. As environmental pressures intensify, the gap between the information conveyed by ratings and real-world risk exposure may grow. A consistent approach to integrating nature- and biodiversity related risks into debt markets is long overdue. This report models the effect of nature loss on credit ratings, default probabilities, and the cost of borrowing. The results have implications for stakeholders including credit rating agencies, investors, and sovereigns themselves.

https://www.bennettinstitute.cam.ac.uk/publications/biodiversity-loss-sovereign-credit-ratings/

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3. Nature’s deteriorating health is threatening the wellbeing of Australians, the State of the Environment report finds

For the first time, the new State of the Environment report explicitly assessed the dependency of humans on nature. We, as report authors, evaluated trends and changes in the environment’s health for their impact on human society. This is described in terms of “human wellbeing”. Wellbeing encompasses people’s life quality and satisfaction, and is increasingly being recognised in national policy. It spans our physical and mental health, living standards, sense of community, our safety, freedom and rights, cultural and spiritual fulfilment, and connection to Country.

Nature’s deteriorating health is threatening the wellbeing of Australians, the State of the Environment report finds (theconversation.com)

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4. How we will fight climate change
And how we will not fight climate change.

It is now time to conclude that the “scare people into making a big push” strategy that climate activists and leftists have been using over the last few years has decisively, utterly failed. People ought to be scared. They ought to support a big push. But this is simply a thing that is not going to happen in the time frame we need it to happen.

How we will fight climate change – by Noah Smith (substack.com)

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5. How scientists are working for greater inclusion of Indigenous knowledge

When the second part of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was published earlier this year, it had a notable inclusion. The instalment, which focused on the human and ecological impacts of climate change, featured Indigenous knowledge alongside Western scientific research for the first time. The Australasian chapter, however, did not include any Indigenous lead authors. Instead, three First Nations scholars were invited to contribute to specific sections of the report through the goodwill of the lead authors, rather than through government selection. It was a reminder, the contributors wrote in March, of how “Indigenous Australians have been largely excluded from climate change decisionmaking”.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jul/31/how-scientists-are-working-for-greater-inclusion-of-indigenous-knowledge?

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6. The myth of the optimal state: adaptive cycles and the birth of resilience thinking

The key to sustainability is a systems capacity to recover after a disturbance, not the ability to hold it in a notional optimal state. Complex systems are constantly moving through adaptive cycles of rapid growth, conservation, release and reorganisation. You can’t ‘hold’ it in one condition of ‘optimal sustainable yield’ because the system continually self organises. The myth of the optimal state stems from our mistaken belief that we are in control and the systems we are managing are simple systems.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/08/02/the-myth-of-the-optimal-state-adaptive-cycles-and-the-birth-of-resilience-thinking/

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7. Scientists discover cause of catastrophic mangrove destruction in Gulf of Carpentaria

Low sea levels caused by severe El Niño events are thought to have caused the mass mangrove deaths. Scientists say it is likely too late for the mangroves to recover. A $30 million fishing industry is expected to be impacted.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-02/mangrove-dieback-gulf-of-carpentaria-scientists-find-cause/101290968

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #534 (27 July 2022)

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


“Science—that is to say, Euro-American science—has long been held as our model for rationality. Scientists frequently accuse those who reject their findings of being irrational. Yet depending on technologies that do not yet exist is irrational, a kind of magical thinking.”
Naomi Oreskes [see item 7]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Should we include a climate-change trigger in national environmental law?
2. Credible biodiversity offsetting needs public national registers to confirm no net loss
3. Natural systems in Australia are unravelling. If they collapse, human society could too
4. An approach to defining and achieving restoration targets for a threatened plant community
5. A penguin farm in the Australian desert: a thought experiment that reveals the flaws our in environment laws
6. As the world burns
7. Carbon-Reduction Plans Rely on Tech That Doesn’t Exist

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1. Should we include a climate-change trigger in national environmental law?

A Climate Change Bill is about to be passed in Australia. It will enshrine the Government’s promised 43% carbon emissions reduction target. Many people are calling for the bill to include a ‘climate trigger’ for environmental approval of large projects such as mines and dams. This won’t happen with this bill. Climate triggers have been discussed by Government for over 20 years. So far the idea never gets beyond discussion. There are other ways of achieving the same outcome.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/07/26/should-we-include-a-climate-change-trigger-in-national-environmental-law/

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2. Credible biodiversity offsetting needs public national registers to confirm no net loss

In the face of the ongoing biodiversity crisis, questions are arising regarding the success, or lack thereof, of biodiversity offset schemes, where biodiversity losses from human development are compensated by producing equitable gains elsewhere. The overarching goal of offsetting is to deliver no net loss (NNL) of biodiversity. Assessing whether offsetting does indeed deliver NNL is, however, challenging because of a lack of clear and reliable information about offset schemes. Here we consider barriers in tracking NNL outcomes, outline criteria of public offset registers to enable accessible and credible reporting of NNL, and show how existing registers fail to satisfy those criteria. The lack of accessibility and transparency in existing registers represents a fundamental gap between NNL targets and a valid tracking system, which challenges the impetus to enact the transformative changes needed to reverse biodiversity decline.

https://www.cell.com/one-earth/fulltext/S2590-3322(22)00266-4?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2590332222002664%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

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3. Natural systems in Australia are unravelling. If they collapse, human society could too

In the long-delayed State of the Environment report released this week, there is one terrifying sentence: “Environmental degradation is now considered a threat to humanity, which could bring about societal collapses.” Hyperbole? Sadly not. Climate change has already warmed Australia 1.4℃ and changed rainfall in some regions. Natural ecosystems are already struggling from land clearing, intensive agriculture, soil degradation and poor water management. Climate changes and related sea level rise are making this worse. It’s a mistake to think this won’t affect us.

Natural systems in Australia are unravelling. If they collapse, human society could too (theconversation.com)

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4. An approach to defining and achieving restoration targets for a threatened plant community

Connecting scientific research and government policy is essential for achieving objectives in sustaining biodiversity in an economic context. Our approach to connecting theoretical ecology, applied ecology, and policy was devised using principles of restoration ecology and the requisite methodology to restore biodiverse ecosystems. Using a threatened ecological community (TEC) with >120 plant species, we posit our approach as a guide for interpreting and achieving regulatory compliance (i.e., government conditions) enacted to manage or offset environmental impacts of development. We inform the scientific approach necessary to delivering outcomes appropriate to policy intent and biodiverse restoration through theoretical and applied research into the ecological restoration of the highly endemic flora of banded ironstone formations of the Mid West of Western Australia. Our approach (1) defines scale-appropriate restoration targets that meet regulatory compliance (e.g., Government of Western Australia Ministerial Conditions); (2) determines the optimal method to return individual plant species to the restoration landscape; (3) develops a conceptual model for our system, based on existing restoration frameworks, to optimize and facilitate the pathway to the restoration of a vegetation community (e.g., TEC) using diverse research approaches; and (4) develops an assessment protocol to compare restoration achievements against the expected regulatory outcomes using our experimental restoration trials as a test example. Our approach systematically addressed the complex challenges in setting and achieving restoration targets for an entire vegetation community, a first for a semiarid environment. We interpret our approach as an industry application relevant to policy- or regulator-mediated mine restoration programs that seek to return biodiverse species assemblages at landscape scales.

An approach to defining and achieving restoration targets for a threatened plant community – Elliott – Ecological Applications – Wiley Online Library

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5. A penguin farm in the Australian desert: a thought experiment that reveals the flaws our in environment laws

Imagine this fictitious scenario. The federal environment minister announces government approval for a large-scale penguin farm near Alice Springs. It will produce 300,000 penguins each year for the high-end feather market in Europe. Penguin feathers are also, in this make-believe world, proven superconductors that could provide an alternative to lithium for renewable energy batteries. The $40 million farming project promises to create jobs and growth in regional Australia. To any informed reader, the idea of farming cold-ocean seabirds in the Australian desert is mind-numbingly silly. But this hypothetical idea helps us better understand how environmental governance in Australia has gone badly wrong.

A penguin farm in the Australian desert: a thought experiment that reveals the flaws our in environment laws (theconversation.com)

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6. As the world burns

even before Putin launched his war, the battle against climate change was being lost. It has been hard to generate any sense of urgency about a problem widely viewed as real (denial of climate science is fading) but seen mostly as something that can be dealt with in the future. Record-high temperatures in Europe and elsewhere, droughts, wildfires, more severe storms and increased migration may change this perception, but so far they haven’t. Moreover, any government acting alone will not solve the problem. There is thus a sense in many countries that doing the right thing won’t matter, because others will continue to do the wrong thing, and all will suffer.

As the world burns | The Strategist (aspistrategist.org.au)

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7. Carbon-Reduction Plans Rely on Tech That Doesn’t Exist

Instead of scaling up renewable energy, researchers promote unproved ideas

Stop and think about this for a moment. Science—that is to say, Euro-American science—has long been held as our model for rationality. Scientists frequently accuse those who reject their findings of being irrational. Yet depending on technologies that do not yet exist is irrational, a kind of magical thinking. That is a developmental stage kids are expected to outgrow. Imagine if I said I planned to build a home with materials that had not yet been invented or build a civilization on Mars without first figuring out how to get even one human being there. You’d likely consider me irrational, perhaps delusional. Yet this kind of thinking pervades plans for future decarbonization.

Carbon-Reduction Plans Rely on Tech That Doesn’t Exist – Scientific American

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #533 (20 July 2022)

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


“Most of Australia is likely to burn even more. That’s bad news for places such as Australia’s ancient Gondwana rainforests. Historically, these have rarely, if ever, burned. Yet more than 50% was impacted in the 2019-2020 fires.”
Ayesha Tulloch [see item 3]

In this issue of Dbytes

1. Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature
2. This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health. We present its grim findings
3. ‘That patch of bush is gone, and so are the birds’: a scientist reacts to the State of the Environment report
4. Australia’s central climate policy pays people to grow trees that already existed. Taxpayers – and the environment – deserve better
5. The public’s valuation of threatened species protection
6. Scientific evidence on the political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals
7. Thinking resilience – navigating a complex world

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1. Assessment Report on the Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature

The report found a dominant global focus on short-term profits and economic growth, often excluding consideration of multiple values of nature in policy decisions. Although often privileged in decision-making, this focus does not adequately reflect the way that changes in nature affect people’s quality of life. The assessment report identifies four actions that can create the conditions for the transformative change needed to address the global biodiversity crisis and achieve a more sustainable and just future:
-recognising the diverse values of nature
-embedding values into decision-making
-reforming policies and regulations to internalise nature’s values, and
-shifting societal goals to align with global sustainability and justice objectives.
The report also presents a novel typology of nature’s values, to guide decision-makers on understanding the diverse way people relate to and value nature. This comprises nature’s capacity to provide resources; the intrinsic values of other species in nature; the importance of nature as the setting for people’s sense of place and identify; and nature as a physical, mental and spiritual part of oneself.

https://zenodo.org/record/6813144#.YtX0lXZBxPY

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2. This is Australia’s most important report on the environment’s deteriorating health. We present its grim findings

This report goes further than its predecessors, by describing how our environment is affecting the health and well-being of Australians. It is also the first to include Indigenous co-authors. As chief authors of the report, we present its key findings here. They include new chapters dedicated to extreme events and Indigenous voices.

https://theconversation.com/this-is-australias-most-important-report-on-the-environments-deteriorating-health-we-present-its-grim-findings-186131?

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3. ‘That patch of bush is gone, and so are the birds’: a scientist reacts to the State of the Environment report

Ayesha Tulloch: Australia’s State of the Environment Report was finally released today – and its findings are a staggering picture of loss and devastation. As a conservation scientist, I’ve spent the last decade helping governments, community groups and individuals better manage our environment. But the report reveals things are getting worse. I’m disappointed, but not surprised. I’ve seen firsthand the devastation wrought by threats such as bushfires and land clearing. I remain hopeful we can turn the crisis around. But it will take money, government commitment and public support to protect and recover our precious natural places.

https://theconversation.com/that-patch-of-bush-is-gone-and-so-are-the-birds-a-scientist-reacts-to-the-state-of-the-environment-report-186135?

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4. Australia’s central climate policy pays people to grow trees that already existed. Taxpayers – and the environment – deserve better

The federal government has launched an independent review of Australia’s central climate policy, the Emissions Reduction Fund, after we and others raised serious concerns about its integrity. The review will examine, among other issues, whether several ways of earning credits under the scheme lead to genuine emissions reductions. One method singled out for scrutiny involves regrowing native forests to store carbon from the atmosphere. Our new analysis suggests the vast majority of carbon storage credited under this method either has not occurred, or would have occurred anyway. Here we explain why.

Australia’s central climate policy pays people to grow trees that already existed. Taxpayers – and the environment – deserve better (theconversation.com)

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5. The public’s valuation of threatened species protection

In a new study, we estimate the Australian public’s willingness to pay for protection of a variety of threatened animal species. We conducted a survey to elicit the value of 12 threatened Australian animal species which were selected, in consultation with Australian government conservation agency managers, to provide a diversity of life forms and appearance. They included: four bird species (Orange-bellied Parrot, Far Eastern Curlew, Australasian Bittern and Eastern Bristlebird), two fish (Shaw Galaxias and Murray Cod), two invertebrates (Boggomoss Snail and Giant Freshwater Crayfish), two mammals (Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat and Numbat) and two reptiles (Gulbaru Gecko and Great Desert Skink).

380. The public’s valuation of threatened species protection – Pannell Discussions

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6. Scientific evidence on the political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations agreed on 17 Sustainable Development Goals as the central normative framework for sustainable development worldwide. The effectiveness of governing by such broad global goals, however, remains uncertain, and we lack comprehensive meta-studies that assess the political impact of the goals across countries and globally. We present here condensed evidence from an analysis of over 3,000 scientific studies on the Sustainable Development Goals published between 2016 and April 2021. Our findings suggests that the goals have had some political impact on institutions and policies, from local to global governance. This impact has been largely discursive, affecting the way actors understand and communicate about sustainable development. More profound normative and institutional impact, from legislative action to changing resource allocation, remains rare. We conclude that the scientific evidence suggests only limited transformative political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals thus far.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-022-00909-5

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7. Thinking resilience – navigating a complex world

One way of better appreciating the complexity around us and navigating a way through lies in the area of resilience thinking. Resilience thinking is the capacity to envisage your system as a self-organising system with thresholds, linked domains and cycles. When you begin engaging with ideas relating to a system’s resilience, you begin to appreciate the world in a different way. Some of those insights include that no-one is in control, there’s no such thing as an optimal state and you can’t understand a system by understanding the components that make it up.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/07/20/thinking-resilience-navigating-a-complex-world/

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #532 (13 July 2022)

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


“Choices based on a nonrelational ontology, where humans can be meaningfully separated from the ecosystems on which they depend (i.e., people and nature), have been indirectly attributed to biodiversity loss. Examples of these choices could include open-cut mining, large-scale deforestation and watershed pollution. In contrast, a relational ontology would not assume that humans could be separated from ecosystems, but that entities—plants, animals and parts of the landscape—have agency and are embedded within a universe of reciprocal interactions (i.e., people as nature). Here, choices account for the consequences of any action or intervention for an assemblage of relationships between entities, thereby reducing the risk of species loss.”
Katie Moon & Katharina-Victoria Pérez-Hämmerle
[see item 1]

In this issue of Dbytes

1. Inclusivity via ontological accountability
2. What can we expect in Australia’s new climate law?
3. Nation-building or nature-destroying? Why it’s time NZ faced up to the environmental damage of its colonial past
4. Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology
5. Citizen Science as an Ecosystem of Engagement: Implications for Learning and Broadening Participation
6. We’ve overexploited the planet, now we need to change if we’re to survive
7. Greater gliders are hurtling towards extinction, and the blame lies squarely with Australian governments

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1. Inclusivity via ontological accountability

Conservation and environmental policies are increasingly criticized for marginalizing peoples, entities and practices. Typically overlooked, yet critical in their potential for marginalization and exclusion, are the assumptions that underlie a policy’s classifications, categorizations and descriptions of reality. These ontological assumptions come to define which interventions are appropriate, or even possible, and for whom. We seek to illuminate the importance of ontology to policy-making and implementation processes. We do so via an ontological analysis of selected elements of an international policy, the Convention on Biological Diversity, to show how language, logic, rights and responsibilities expressed and inferred within the policy could marginalize different entities and practices. The analysis demonstrates how a policy represents reality and thereby intervenes in the world, with consequences for alternative ontologies, peoples, and knowledges. To support ontological accountability, we offer a three-stage conceptual framework to: deconstruct the language used in describing reality; make sense of how language and logic entangle rights and responsibilities; and enable transformation by becoming accountable to diverse practices of reality. Enabling the coexistence and practice of multiple ontologies is not easy or simple, but it is fundamental for transforming to inclusive policy-making, implementation, and self-determination.

The Society for Conservation Biology (wiley.com)

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2. What can we expect in Australia’s new climate law?

Australia’s newly elected government has promised to introduce a Climate Change Bill. It won’t be available till later this month but we have a fair idea of what it is likely to say. It will not seek to reimpose a carbon price but will use an existing law reduce allowable emissions for the largest polluters. It will enshrine both Australia’s ‘net zero by 2050’ goal and its new Paris ‘nationally determined contribution’ of a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030. It will also restore the CCA’s role of advising Government on future targets; require the climate minister to report annually to Parliament on progress in meeting targets; and paste the new climate targets across into the formal objectives and functions of several government agencies.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/07/13/what-can-we-expect-in-australias-new-climate-law/

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3. Nation-building or nature-destroying? Why it’s time NZ faced up to the environmental damage of its colonial past

The ways in which New Zealand remembers European colonisation have changed markedly in recent years. Critics have been chipping away at the public image of Captain James Cook, the New Zealand Wars have been included in the new compulsory history curriculum, and streets honouring colonial figures have been renamed. However, while New Zealand is slowly recognising the historical injustices suffered by Māori, the same reappraisal hasn’t extended to the natural environment. The dramatic transformation of “wild untamed nature” into “productive land” by European settlers in the 1800s continues to be widely celebrated as a testament to Kiwi ingenuity and hard work.

My soon-to-be published research, based on a survey of 1,100 people, suggests this narrative could be partly responsible for New Zealanders’ apparent complacency on climate change compared to other countries. Essentially, it appears those who refuse the “taming of nature” narrative – and instead recognise the 19th century as a period of environmental destruction – are more likely to have what psychologists call an “environmental self-identity”.

https://theconversation.com/nation-building-or-nature-destroying-why-its-time-nz-faced-up-to-the-environmental-damage-of-its-colonial-past-185693?

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4. Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology

Ecological research and practice are crucial to understanding and guiding more positive relationships between people and ecosystems. However, ecology as a discipline and the diversity of those who call themselves ecologists have also been shaped and held back by often exclusionary Western approaches to knowing and doing ecology. To overcome these historical constraints and to make ecology inclusive of the diverse peoples inhabiting Earth’s varied ecosystems, ecologists must expand their knowledge, both in theory and practice, to incorporate varied perspectives, approaches and interpretations from, with and within the natural environment and across global systems. We outline five shifts that could help to transform academic ecological practice: decolonize your mind; know your histories; decolonize access; decolonize expertise; and practise ethical ecology in inclusive teams. We challenge the discipline to become more inclusive, creative and ethical at a moment when the perils of entrenched thinking have never been clearer.

Decoloniality and anti-oppressive practices for a more ethical ecology | Nature Ecology & Evolution

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5. Citizen Science as an Ecosystem of Engagement: Implications for Learning and Broadening Participation

The bulk of research on citizen science participants is project centric, based on an assumption that volunteers experience a single project. Contrary to this assumption, survey responses (n = 3894) and digital trace data (n = 3649) from volunteers, who collectively engaged in 1126 unique projects, revealed that multiproject participation was the norm. Only 23% of volunteers were singletons (who participated in only one project). The remaining multiproject participants were split evenly between discipline specialists (39%) and discipline spanners (38% joined projects with different disciplinary topics) and unevenly between mode specialists (52%) and mode spanners (25% participated in online and offline projects). Public engagement was narrow: The multiproject participants were eight times more likely to be White and five times more likely to hold advanced degrees than the general population. We propose a volunteer-centric framework that explores how the dynamic accumulation of experiences in a project ecosystem can support broad learning objectives and inclusive citizen science.

Citizen Science as an Ecosystem of Engagement: Implications for Learning and Broadening Participation | BioScience | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

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6. We’ve overexploited the planet, now we need to change if we’re to survive

he relationship between humans and nature is under intense and increasing strain. The report released today by Ipbes, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (akin to the IPCC reports on climate change), provides compelling evidence that humans are overexploiting wild species and habitats. Harmful activities, including habitat destruction, poor farming practices and pollution, have altered ecosystems significantly, driving many species past the point of recovery. In Great Britain alone, of the 8,431 species assessed in the 2019 State of Nature report, 1,188 are threatened with extinction. Globally, there are an estimated one million at risk, with biodiversity declining at a faster rate than at any time in human history.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jul/08/climate-crisis-biodiversity-decline-overexploited-planet-change-to-survive-aoe

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7. Greater gliders are hurtling towards extinction, and the blame lies squarely with Australian governments

A key reason is that Australia’s environmental laws and practices are outdated and offer little meaningful protection to threatened plants and animals. To avoid a future in which greater gliders are nothing more than a memory, we must immediately stop destroying their habitat.

https://theconversation.com/greater-gliders-are-hurtling-towards-extinction-and-the-blame-lies-squarely-with-australian-governments-186469

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #531 (6 July 2022)

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


“We found nature restoration only marginally lowers global warming – and any climate benefits are dwarfed by the scale of ongoing fossil fuel emissions, which could be over 2,000 billion tonnes of CO₂ between now and 2100, under current policies.”
Kate Dooley & Zebedee Nicholls [see item 1]

In this issue of Dbytes

1. No more excuses: restoring nature is not a silver bullet for global warming, we must cut emissions outright
2. Scientists warn deal to save biodiversity is in jeopardy
3. Solving sustainability – It’s complicated AND complex. Do you know the difference?
4. A call on conferences for more equity and inclusion of diversity
5. We blew the whistle on Australia’s central climate policy. Here’s what a new federal government probe must fix
6. Conservation Science Publishing Has a Gender Problem
7. Enormous environmental consequences of the war in Ukraine


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1. No more excuses: restoring nature is not a silver bullet for global warming, we must cut emissions outright

Restoring degraded environments, such as by planting trees, is often touted as a solution to the climate crisis. But our new research shows this, while important, is no substitute for preventing fossil fuel emissions to limit global warming.

https://theconversation.com/no-more-excuses-restoring-nature-is-not-a-silver-bullet-for-global-warming-we-must-cut-emissions-outright-186048?

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2. Scientists warn deal to save biodiversity is in jeopardy

Negotiators from around 200 countries that have signed up to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in Nairobi from 21 to 26 June to thrash out key details of the deal, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. But the talks made such little progress that many scientists are worried that nations will be unable to finalize the deal at the UN biodiversity summit in Montreal, Canada, in December. A key sticking point is how much funding rich nations will provide to low-income nations. Failure to agree on the framework at this summit — the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) — will be devastating for the natural world, they say.


Scientists warn deal to save biodiversity is in jeopardy (nature.com)

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3. Solving sustainability – It’s complicated AND complex. Do you know the difference?

Why is climate change so difficult to solve? Because it’s a complex problem and complexity is something humans don’t deal with well. Our political leaders will tell you they are in control, and that they have a plan, a simple solution that solves the problem of climate change without anyone having to change. Simple solutions never solve complex problems but they can make them worse.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/07/05/solving-sustainability-its-complicated-and-complex-do-you-know-the-difference/

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4. A call on conferences for more equity and inclusion of diversity

This blog post is dedicated to all the people who care about equity and inclusion of diversity, especially with regards to collaborations with researchers and practitioners from low, lower-middle, and upper-middle income economy countries. Here, I tell my personal backstory about how the largest, oldest, and most respected coral reef research society, the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS), changed their operational model for running their International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS22) to improve participation and access to delegates from developing countries by waiving the online registration fees. This change must have followed years of conversations and more recently, a public letter by a very unhappy symposium chair. Me.

A call on conferences for more equity and inclusion of diversity | Elisa’s fabulous blog (elisabayra.github.io)

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5. We blew the whistle on Australia’s central climate policy. Here’s what a new federal government probe must fix

Our analysis suggests up to 80% of credits issued under three of the Emissions Reduction Fund’s most popular emissions reduction methods do not represent genuine emissions cuts that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Our decision to call the scheme a “fraud” was deliberate and considered. In our view, a process that systematically pays for a service that’s not actually provided is fraudulent. The Clean Energy Regulator (which administers the fund) and the current ERAC reviewed our claims and, earlier this month, dismissed them. We have expressed serious concerns with that review process, which we believe was not transparent and showed a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues.

https://theconversation.com/we-blew-the-whistle-on-australias-central-climate-policy-heres-what-a-new-federal-government-probe-must-fix-185894?

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6. Conservation Science Publishing Has a Gender Problem

The persistent gender gap in science publishing is harming conservation efforts. An analysis of papers published by Nature Conservancy scientists over 50 years finds that men continue to out-publish women. Only 36% of authors were women, and in any year women in the Global South have never comprised more than 3% of total authorships across the organization.

Conservation Science Publishing Has a Gender Problem (nature.org)

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7. Enormous environmental consequences of the war in Ukraine

The conflict in Ukraine is destroying environments and not only in the war zone.

Environment: Enormous environmental consequences of the war in Ukraine (johnmenadue.com)

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #530 (21 June 2022)

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

“The expansion of environmental markets, including greater use of biodiversity offsets, is increasingly cited as central to boosting conservation investment and mainstreaming biodiversity within economic decision-making. But such approaches are far from a silver bullet. Nearly 30 years since the first Payments for Ecosystem Services trade, liquid markets with strong flows of capital to biodiversity conservation remain perpetually in a state of emergence. Biodiversity offsets often fail to fully compensate for biodiversity losses, even against a counterfactual of ongoing biodiversity decline, and there is not enough land available for tree planting to achieve climate-mitigation goals.”
Divya Narain et al, 2022 [See item 1]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. A step change needed to secure a nature-positive future—Is it in reach?
2. Lies, damned lies and … Environmental Economics?
3. Kangaroo Island’s dunnarts were hit hard by bushfires. Now feral cats threaten them with extinction
4. Australia has a once in a lifetime opportunity to break the stranglehold fossil fuels have on our politics
5. Climate Change Killed Conservation: Can We Still Protect Ecosystems?
6. Dam Accounting: Taking Stock of Methane Emissions From Reservoirs
7. Putting Nature to Work: Integrating Green and Gray Infrastructure for Water Security and Climate Resilience

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1. A step change needed to secure a nature-positive future—Is it in reach?

The 1972 Stockholm Conference put environmental protection on the global agenda for the first time. But since then, biodiversity losses and increasing threats have outpaced the conservation response. A step change is needed to reverse this trend and will require scaled-up action across society, including from governments, businesses, and financial institutions.

A step change needed to secure a nature-positive future—Is it in reach? – ScienceDirect

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2. Lies, damned lies and … Environmental Economics?

A single fossil fuel development proposal in Australia is predicted to raise the global temperature by a tiny amount. With a world already overheating, should this new development be allowed? Government approval may well hinge on the idea of ‘economics of substitution.’

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/06/29/lies-damned-lies-and-environmental-economics/

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3. Kangaroo Island’s dunnarts were hit hard by bushfires. Now feral cats threaten them with extinction

Eight per cent of trapped cats had endangered dunnarts in their stomach contents. Almost all the dunnarts’ habitat was hit by bushfires. New technology makes wiping out Kangaroo Island’s feral cats a possibility.

Kangaroo Island’s dunnarts were hit hard by bushfires. Now feral cats threaten them with extinction – ABC News

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4. Australia has a once in a lifetime opportunity to break the stranglehold fossil fuels have on our politics

The history of Australian climate policy — under both Labor and Coalition governments — shows very clearly that our large and powerful fossil fuel industry and its political clients are adept at devising “innovative” ways to ensure targets are achieved without obstructing the Lemming-like march toward ever more coal and gas production.

https://theconversation.com/australia-has-a-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-to-break-the-stranglehold-fossil-fuels-have-on-our-politics-184748?

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5. Climate Change Killed Conservation: Can We Still Protect Ecosystems?

If conservation is about “preserving” biodiversity or “restoring” ecosystems to past states, how can conservation strategies continue to serve a useful function relative to this period of climate change? Indeed, conservation as an unreconstructed set of management responses may actually accelerate the loss of biodiversity, untangling communities and ecosystems even as conservationists try to hold water through open fingers. Conservation is becoming the opposite of climate adaptation. When does conservation itself become environmental damage? Is conservation a lazy, unimaginative response to environmental change?

https://medium.com/@johoma/climate-change-killed-conservation-can-we-still-protect-ecosystems-80144df200e4

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6. Dam Accounting: Taking Stock of Methane Emissions From Reservoirs

Despite the green reputation of hydropower among policymakers, some reservoirs emit significant amounts of methane, along with much smaller amounts of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. That’s bad news because we already have a methane problem. This short-lived but potent gas packs 85 times the global warming punch of carbon dioxide over 20 years. If we hope to stave off catastrophic warming, scientists say we need to quickly cut methane. But new data show that despite this warning it’s still increasing at record levels — even with a global pledge signed by 100 countries to slash methane emissions 30% by 2030.

Methane can rise from wetlands and other natural sources, but most emissions come from human-caused sources like oil and gas, landfills and livestock. We’ve known about the threat from those sources for years, but emissions from reservoirs have largely been either uncounted or undercounted.

Dam Accounting: Taking Stock of Methane Emissions From Reservoirs – Resilience

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7. Putting Nature to Work: Integrating Green and Gray Infrastructure for Water Security and Climate Resilience

“Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure” is a joint report from the World Bank and the World Resources Institute (WRI) that aims to advance the integration of green and gray infrastructure solutions on the ground. It places a spotlight on the world’s growing infrastructure crisis, driven by climate change and growing populations. It proposes insights, solutions and examples for putting nature to work. It examines the technical, environmental, social and economic dimensions of a typical project assessment but also outlines, with new clarity and detail, the enabling conditions required to facilitate successful implementation of green-gray projects. Harnessing the collective analytical and technical expertise of the World Bank and WRI, it aims to build momentum in both policy and practice.

Putting Nature to Work: Integrating Green and Gray Infrastructure for Water Security and Climate Resilience (worldbank.org)

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #529 (21 June 2022)

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


“These narratives show how the climate conversation has moved from outright climate denialism to delayism and distraction from acting. As these narratives infiltrate general discourse, stances on climate actions are entrenching into broader individual identity and grievance politics, emerging as a new front in the culture wars.”
Jennie King et al, 2022 [see item 7]

In this issue of Dbytes

1. No excuses’: limited conservation efforts could save at least 47 Australian animals from extinction
2. Why can’t we fix this? Because it’s complex
3. Flexible conservation decisions for climate adaptation
4. Australian frogs are dying en masse again, and we need your help to find out why
5. The Potential of Blue Carbon for Mitigating Climate Change
6. IIED: 50 years of communicating about environment and development
7. Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and Responding to Climate Disinformation at COP26 & Beyond

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1. No excuses’: limited conservation efforts could save at least 47 Australian animals from extinction

Scientists hope Albanese government addresses extinction crisis as new research shows 63 vertebrates face annihilation by 2041.

‘No excuses’: limited conservation efforts could save at least 47 Australian animals from extinction | Endangered species | The Guardian

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2. Why can’t we fix this? Because it’s complex

Don’t treat climate change as a simple problem. It’s not. It’s complex, and it won’t be solved with simple solutions. If you’re in any doubt about this, have a look at what’s happened over the last two decades.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/06/21/why-cant-we-fix-this-because-its-complex/

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3. Flexible conservation decisions for climate adaptation

We need to think more strategically about building flexibility into conservation decision-making and planning for climate adaptation. We characterise flexible conservation strategies into three types of flexibility (procedural, action, and resource flexibility) and use structured decision-making to link flexible strategies to particular types of risks arising from climate uncertainty. We hope that this will provide a framework for organisations and governments to be able to think more strategically about how to build flexibility into conservation plans and identifying when flexibility is likely to be valuable.

https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1fG9j9C%7EItyLNS

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4. Australian frogs are dying en masse again, and we need your help to find out why

Last winter, thousands of dead and dying frogs were found across Australia. Instead of hunkering down and out of sight, frogs were spotted during the day in the open, on footpaths, highways and doorsteps – often in the blazing sun. These frogs were often thin, slow moving, and with dark patches on their back or red bellies. They were seeking water in pet bowls or pot plants. And they usually died in a matter of hours. A crash in frog populations could have very real consequences, particularly for already threatened frog species, and the importance of frogs in both freshwater and land systems means it can also impact entire ecosystems. Thankfully, reports of sick or dead frogs slowed as the weather got warmer, and by the end of last year they had all but ceased. We hoped the awful spate of frog deaths was a one-off. But now, we fear it is happening again.

Australian frogs are dying en masse again, and we need your help to find out why (theconversation.com)

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5. The Potential of Blue Carbon for Mitigating Climate Change

The latest McKinsey & Company report, “Blue Carbon: The potential of coastal and economic climate action,” accentuates the importance of blue carbon. It highlights how nature-based climate solutions in the world’s oceans can play an important role in conservation and carbon reduction efforts worldwide.

The Potential of Blue Carbon for Mitigating Climate Change – Impakter

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6. IIED: 50 years of communicating about environment and development

We have an operating budget of around 7% of IIED’s income for central comms. I believe this to be a good benchmark that provides value for money and a sensible approach to making sure you have enough resource, but not too much. It allows us to provide a robust ‘standing capacity’ for essential comms activities that keep the organisation competitive, visible in the right spaces, and able to produce high-impact material.

IIED: 50 years of communicating about environment and development – Research to Action

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7. Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and Responding to Climate Disinformation at COP26 & Beyond

A new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue tracks the way calls for inaction on climate have evolved from the rhetoric of outright denial towards a focus on delaying action and under-stating risks. It finds that misinformation spread by a relatively small circle of actors is amplified rather than mitigated by both mainstream and social media. It brings forward seven policy recommendations to change this dynamic.

Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and Responding to Climate Disinformation at COP26 & Beyond – Summary – ISD (isdglobal.org)

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #528 (9 June 2022)

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


“The ink was hardly dry on the Glasgow [climate] pact when the world began to change in ways potentially disastrous for hopes of tackling the climate crisis. Energy and food price rises mean that governments face a cost of living and energy security crisis, with some threatening to respond by returning to fossil fuels, including coal.”
Fiona Harvey [see item 1]

In this issue of Dbytes

1. Thirty years of climate summits: where have they got us?
2. Our new environment super-department sounds great in theory. But one department for two ministers is risky
3. One of Australia’s tiniest mammals is heading for extinction – but you can help
4. The aesthetic value of reef fishes is globally mismatched to their conservation priorities
5. Global protected areas seem insufficient to safeguard half of the world’s mammals from human-induced extinction
6. Assessing the extinction risk of all species of freshwater fishes globally
7. The Humanitarian Sector Needs Clear Job Profiles for Climate Science Translators Now More than Ever

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1. Thirty years of climate summits: where have they got us?

It has been 30 years since the Rio summit, when a global system was set up that would bring countries together on a regular basis to try to solve the climate crisis. Here are the highlights and lowlights since then.

Thirty years of climate summits: where have they got us? | Climate crisis | The Guardian

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2. Our new environment super-department sounds great in theory. But one department for two ministers is risky

Having one super-department supporting two ministers – Tanya Plibersek in environment and water, and Chris Bowen for climate change and energy – is likely to stretch the public service too far.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/06/14/our-new-environment-super-department-sounds-great-in-theory-but-one-department-for-two-ministers-is-risky/

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3. One of Australia’s tiniest mammals is heading for extinction – but you can help

They weigh around 15 grams, the same as a 50 cent coin. They devour vast quantities of insects. And they’re in real trouble. Our new research has found the critically endangered southern bent-wing bat is continuing to decline. Its populations are centred on just three “maternity” caves in southeast South Australia and southwest Victoria, where the bats give birth and raise their young.

https://theconversation.com/one-of-australias-tiniest-mammals-is-heading-for-extinction-but-you-can-help-183233

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4. The aesthetic value of reef fishes is globally mismatched to their conservation priorities

Reef fishes are closely connected to many human populations, yet their contributions to society are mostly considered through their economic and ecological values. Cultural and intrinsic values of reef fishes to the public can be critical drivers of conservation investment and success, but remain challenging to quantify. Aesthetic value represents one of the most immediate and direct means by which human societies engage with biodiversity, and can be evaluated from species to ecosystems. Here, we provide the aesthetic value of 2,417 ray-finned reef fish species by combining intensive evaluation of photographs of fishes by humans with predicted values from machine learning. We identified important biases in species’ aesthetic value relating to evolutionary history, ecological traits, and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat status. The most beautiful fishes are tightly packed into small parts of both the phylogenetic tree and the ecological trait space. In contrast, the less attractive fishes are the most ecologically and evolutionary distinct species and those recognized as threatened. Our study highlights likely important mismatches between potential public support for conservation and the species most in need of this support. It also provides a pathway for scaling-up our understanding of what are both an important nonmaterial facet of biodiversity and a key component of nature’s contribution to people, which could help better anticipate consequences of species loss and assist in developing appropriate communication strategies.

The aesthetic value of reef fishes is globally mismatched to their conservation priorities | PLOS Biology

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5. Global protected areas seem insufficient to safeguard half of the world’s mammals from human-induced extinction

Protected areas are vital for conserving global biodiversity, but we lack information on the extent to which the current global protected area network is able to prevent local extinctions. Here we investigate this by assessing the potential size of individual populations of nearly 4,000 terrestrial mammals within protected areas. We find that many existing protected areas are too small or too poorly connected to provide robust and resilient protection for almost all mammal species that are threatened with extinction and for over 1,000 species that are not currently threatened. These results highlight that global biodiversity targets must reflect ecological realities by incorporating spatial structure and estimates of population viability, rather than relying simply on the total area of land protected.

Global protected areas seem insufficient to safeguard half of the world’s mammals from human-induced extinction | PNAS

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6. Assessing the extinction risk of all species of freshwater fishes globally

Catherine Sayer is the Freshwater Programme Officer in the IUCN Biodiversity Assessment and Knowledge Team, based at The David Attenborough Building in Cambridge, UK. She is currently working to get the extinction risk of all species of freshwater fishes globally assessed for the IUCN Red List, which will fill in knowledge gaps on which regions have the highest numbers and proportions of threatened freshwater fishes, giving a greater understanding of where conservation programmes are likely to have most impact. SHOAL caught up with her to learn more about the IUCN Red List assessment process and get some advice on how researchers and taxonomists can conduct Red List assessments themselves.

https://shoalconservation.org/assessing-extinction-risk-of-freshwater-fishes-globally-interview-with-catherine-sayer/

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7. The Humanitarian Sector Needs Clear Job Profiles for Climate Science Translators Now More than Ever

A new generation of climate science translators (CSTs) is currently evolving, both as independent professionals and affiliated with humanitarian agencies. While people in this role represent an opportunity to foster communication and collaboration between climate science, humanitarian decision-support, policy, and decision-making, there are neither clear job profiles nor established criteria for success. Based on an analysis of job opportunities published on one of the largest humanitarian and development aid job portals, we show that the demand for CSTs has been increasing since 2011. Subsequently, we present a characterization of core skills for the next generation of CSTs aiming to establish a space for not only current CSTs to thrive, but also a path for future translators to follow, with milestones and opportunities for recognition.

https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/bams/103/4/BAMS-D-20-0263.1.xml

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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.
Or you could subscribe to the WordPress version by visiting https://ozdbytes.wordpress.com/ and press the follow button.

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

Dbytes #527 (9 June 2022)

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


“We found Australia has already overshot three of these [planetary boundaries]: biodiversity, land-system change and nitrogen and phosphorus flows. We’re also approaching the boundaries for freshwater use and climate change.”
Romy Zyngier [see item 7]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. The minimum land area requiring conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity
2. Bringing ‘the environment’ in from the cold
3. Species recovery targets in England damaging and illogical, scientists warn
4. Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work
5. Valuing nature is key to unlocking real change for Australians
6. The ideology of wilderness ‘destroying this continent’
7. Australia has overshot three planetary boundaries based on how we use land

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1. The minimum land area requiring conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity

Ambitious conservation efforts are needed to stop the global biodiversity crisis. In this study, we estimate the minimum land area to secure important biodiversity areas, ecologically intact areas, and optimal locations for representation of species ranges and ecoregions. We discover that at least 64 million square kilometers (44% of terrestrial area) would require conservation attention (ranging from protected areas to land-use policies) to meet this goal. More than 1.8 billion people live on these lands, so responses that promote autonomy, self-determination, equity, and sustainable management for safeguarding biodiversity are essential. Spatially explicit land-use scenarios suggest that 1.3 million square kilometers of this land is at risk of being converted for intensive human land uses by 2030, which requires immediate attention. However, a sevenfold difference exists between the amount of habitat converted in optimistic and pessimistic land-use scenarios, highlighting an opportunity to avert this crisis. Appropriate targets in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to encourage conservation of the identified land would contribute substantially to safeguarding biodiversity.

https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abl9127

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2. Bringing ‘the environment’ in from the cold

2013: Conservatives trumpet they will put recovery plans into action for real conservation outcomes
2022: after gutting the environment dept, they scrap recovery plans altogether

Now we need to bring the environment in from the cold

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/2022/06/07/bringing-the-environment-in-from-the-cold/

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3. Species recovery targets in England damaging and illogical, scientists warn

PM told there could be eight years’ decline before any gains despite already being at ‘rock bottom’

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/31/species-recovery-targets-england-damaging-illogical-scientists-warn?

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4. Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work

Americans support recycling. We do too. But although some materials can be effectively recycled and safely made from recycled content, plastics cannot. Plastic recycling does not work and will never work. The United States in 2021 had a dismal recycling rate of about 5 percent for post-consumer plastic waste, down from a high of 9.5 percent in 2014, when the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled—even though much of it wasn’t.

Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work – The Atlantic

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5. Valuing nature is key to unlocking real change for Australians

Voters have given the new government a mandate to prioritise valuing nature. The make-up of the crossbench shows stronger and faster climate action was clearly a factor in the ballot booths.

Valuing nature is key to unlocking real change for Australians – The Fifth Estate

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6. The ideology of wilderness ‘destroying this continent’

What does a natural landscape look like to you? Maybe you think of a dense forest, or a sparkling body of water. Somewhere untouched by humans, right? Maybe the word “wilderness” comes to mind. Michael-Shawn Fletcher is a geographer and a descendant of the Wiradjuri – and he wants to challenge the idea that country that’s untouched by humans is a good thing.

The ideology of wilderness ‘destroying this continent’ – Ockham’s Razor – ABC Radio National

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7. Australia has overshot three planetary boundaries based on how we use land

We used to believe the world’s resources were almost limitless. But as we spread out across the planet, we consumed more and more of these resources. For decades, scientists have warned we are approaching the limits of what the environment can tolerate. In 2009, the influential Stockholm Resilience Centre first published its planetary boundaries framework. The idea is simple: outline the global environmental limits within which humanity could develop and thrive. This concept has become popular as a way to grasp our impact on nature. For the first time, we have taken these boundaries – which can be hard to visualise on a global scale – and applied them to Australia. We found Australia has already overshot three of these: biodiversity, land-system change and nitrogen and phosphorus flows. We’re also approaching the boundaries for freshwater use and climate change.

https://theconversation.com/australia-has-overshot-three-planetary-boundaries-based-on-how-we-use-land-183728

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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.

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David Salt
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