UK government backsliding on environment? two clues and an how is Australia doing

The government of the UK has been talking the talk for a significant period of time. At times they have suggested some policies that should move in the right direction, unfortunately they have often reversed these relatively quickly.

An example of this is the governments green housing grants – advertised as intending to improve the UK housing to work more efficiency. Unfortunately, it was cut too soon, had perhaps 1% of the investment needed to get the whole job done, and proved to merely be a handout to building companies.

So what has caught my eye this time?

  1. A suggestion that oil and gas can be part of the UK net zero strategy? No carbon capture scheme (CCS) has ever worked large scale, and furthermore, none have captured all of the pollution. Far from moving away to fossil fuels, the UK intends to create a new wave of oil and gas exploration – and trying to justify this by suggesting that all the carbon will be caught. Of 13 CCS projects carried out recently, a study found that – 1 was cancelled before start, 2 failed, 7 underperformed, which leaves only 3 to have succeeded. A success rate of 23%. Looking back, out of the 39 million tonnes of carbon dioxide caught worldwide through CCS, more than 70% was used for Enhanced Oil Recovery – in other words of the 3 projects that performed, less than 1 of them would have actually helped to reduce carbon emissions. SO ARE WE ACTUALLY TRYING TO CUT EMISSION IN THE UK?
  2. The UK has just scrapped a top climate diplomatic role. As roles like this are one of the simple ways that a country shows what its priorities- countries who are paying attention will be saying this means that the UK is no longer concentrating on global warming. The FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) said the climate crisis remained of “utmost importance” – while this may be true ?!? it certainly sends the wrong signal.

How is Australia doing?

We need to start reducing emissions at some point – this seems self evident, if we are to meet any of our carbon reduction goals. In Australia the labour and Greens have done a deal that might actually improve policy covering Australia’s biggest polluters.

While the new ideas is complicated, it changes the safeguard mechanism to take the country closer to meeting the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

While Australia’s government has been talking the right talk recently, the Australian newspapers have published fear mongering by the fossil fuel companies – forcing up prices, put domestic gas supply at risk, destroy jobs and “kill foreign investment” in the coal industry, The Daily Telegraph published a story which claimed the changes to the safeguard mechanism would risk $96 billion of energy projects – and that should be seen as “coal hard facts”.

One coal boss told the Australian that the changes to the safeguard mechanism were built on a political objective to push a “base demonisation of fossil fuels” that would threaten Australias role as a “Reliable energy exporter” for the region. This is so completely illiterate of the science as to be laughable (if it was not for the fact that many people will listen).

A former editor of the Australian Chris Mitchel wrote that Environmental journalists and the “left media” were “in a frenzy” over the most recent release from the UNs climate panel – he claimed that they are missing the elephant in the room, that climate change has failed to arrive.

Despite what many in the fossil fuel industry wish to claim, it is not hard to see climate change, indeed it is all around us. Mitchell claimed that the world would not, and could not do without fossil fuels – though if you don’t believe that the climate has been effected, then this is an easier position to reach.

What is clear, is that while the voices against doing what i needed to leave a world we wish to for future generations, have not shut up, in most instances they are not winning.

Has Australia actually appointed a climate change authority member who actually wants to do the right thing?

Australia is likely to loose a great deal if climate change continues in a big way. This is because Australia already has a large part of the country unbearably hot. If the temperature increases another 2-5 degrees these areas might well become impossible to survive within.

This is why it is so strange that Australia is so backwards in this respect.

Currently, Australia gets a great deal of money by selling coal abroad. This is because Australia is incredibly rich in coal. As a result they are keen to be able to put off zero carbon as long as possible as they will loose this income.

Professor Lesley Huges is a climate specialist, that has just been appointed to the Australia climate change authority and she has quite rightly stated that 2050 net zero is not good enough. Encouragingly, though she has also said that the new government was showing a willingness to listen to science. The Climate change minister has appointed 3 new members after it was suggested that the authority was to heavily weighted in the direction of business and fossil fuels (if there are too many representatives from this part of the market, then concerns about global warming are likely to get less voice, as fossil fuel companies know they only have a finite length of time to make money from resources that are likely to be banned in the future).

Continue reading “Has Australia actually appointed a climate change authority member who actually wants to do the right thing?”

Could the Platypus go extinct soon?

The Platypus was such a wierd looking animal, many of the original scientists that studied specimens sent back to the UK, looked for sewing marks – they believed that it must be several creatures joined together. Even 20 years after its discovery, scientists were still arguing about whether it was real. The anatomist Robert Knox claimed if was a “freak imposture”, and that ”the scientific [community] felt inclined to class this rare production of nature with eastern mermaids and other works of art.” This was not only due to its weird appearance, but several other fake animals that had come to light in recent times.

Yet it was not,

A wild Platypus

To be sure, it is a mammal which perhaps stretches the definition more than most. It lays eggs, has a ducks beak, but feeds its young on milk. It is one of the many oddities that live in Australia.

Unfortunately it is facing local extinction, in many places across its range, and has lost a quarter of its range in the last 30 years..

This is a species that could quietly slip towards extinction without being noticed – being shy, nocturnal and not splashing, they are rarely seen. Most people who do not see one, might suggest that they simply did not get lucky.

There are a range of threats that are pushing them towards extinction. Water extraction from rivers and creeks, the building of dams and weirs, as well as river bank erosion. Increasing regularity of droughts also threaten their long-term survival as their homes become too shallow – allowing feral cats and foes to attack them.

They are capable of living alongside humans – the video above is in the Suburbs of a city, but as pollution increases they often disappear.

The lead author of the study concludes that the Platypus is not facing complete extinction, but local extinction in many different parts of Australia.

New Australian study on reef in a no fishing zone, shows what can happen when reefs are untouched by humans

The reef in question – The Rowley Shoals, are an isolated archipelago about 260km off Australia’s north west coast.

What was found was incredible. Between its protection from fishing, its location and the shape of the reef it has sustained species long lost elsewhere.

Species of giant fish like humphead Maori wrasse and humphead Parrotfish (both growing to over 1.5m were a regular sight, despite the fact that globally they are threatened with extinction. Of particular excitement, across the long study, there was no discernible change in the quantity of these fish – even as they were seen less and less regularly elsewhere.

Efforts must be made to maintain reefs like this, in their unblemished state. These reefs are far more capable of dealing with environmental changes, and hopefully one day there will be a need to reseed reefs in more accessible parts of the world.

See Animals Wild