ICYMI – eco news round up, 12 April 2019

A natural solution to the climate disaster

Scientists and activists claim that climate and ecological crises can be tackled by natural climate solutions such as restoring forests and other valuable ecosystems. By defending, restoring and re-establishing forests, peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes, natural seabeds and other crucial ecosystems, large amounts of carbon dioxide can be removed from the air and stored. Simultaneously, the restoration and protection of these ecosystems will help minimise extinction whilst enhancing local people’s resilience against climate disaster.

Scientists call on governments to support natural climate solutions through research, funding and political commitment, asserting that this strategy has so far been largely overlooked. It is also essential that activists work with the consent and guidance of indigenous people and local communities. They urge that this approach is used in tandem with the current decarbonisation of industrial economies to create an expansive and well-funded programme to address all the causes of climate chaos.

The Clean Collective A Natural Solution to the Climate Disaster

‘Dead corals don’t make babies’: Great Barrier Reef losing its ability to recover from bleaching

Successive ocean heat waves are not only damaging Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, but are also compromising its ability to recover, raising the risk of “widespread ecological collapse,” a new study has found.

In the last two decades, the 2,300-kilometre-long reef has endured multiple large-scale “bleaching” events caused by above-average water temperatures, including back-to-back occurrences in 2016 and 2017. The new study, released by the journal Nature, examined the number of adult corals which survived these two events and how many new corals they created to replenish the reef in 2018.

The answer was bleak and ominous: “Dead corals don’t make babies,” the study’s lead author, Terry Hughes, said in a press release. “The number of new corals settling on the Great Barrier Reef declined by 89% following the unprecedented loss of adult corals from global warming in 2016 and 2017,” said Hughes.

Scientists working on the report say they expect coral recruitment to recover over the next 5 to 10 years, as more corals reach sexual maturity. However, this rests on the absence of another bleaching event which, with sea temperatures continuing to rise, seems a near-impossibility. “It’s highly unlikely that we could escape a fifth or sixth event in the coming decade,” said co-author Morgan Pratchett.

Scientists have long warned of the negative impact on global warming on the reef, the world’s largest reef system and a UNESCO world heritage site. “There’s only one way to fix this problem,” says Hughes, “And that’s to tackle the root cause of global heating by reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero as quickly as possible.”

Why the Guardian is putting global CO2 levels in the weather forecast

Today, the CO2 level is the highest it has been for several million years. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, CO2 was at 280 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere. It has since rocketed to an overwhelming 400 ppm as of 2013. Therefore, The Guardian will now publish the Mauna Loa carbon count, the global benchmark, on the weather page of the paper every day. The figure will appear alongside the level in previous years for comparison and the level seen as manageable in the long term- 350ppm.

“When I read the letter from the Guardian reader Daniel Scharf encouraging us to include information on climate change in our weather forecasts, we thought it was a fantastic idea,” said the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen so dramatically and including a measure of that in our daily weather report is symbolic of what human activity is doing to our climate”.

Acknowledging the CO2 level is an important measure of the global warming cause by humanity. Increase in world temperature, heatwaves, storms and droughts all depend on how fast emissions rise or fall and how long they remain at high levels. The Guardian hopes that tracking the daily rise of CO2 will help to maintain attention on it and serve as a daily reminder that we must work towards a more sustainable future immediately. As Viner said, “People need reminding that the climate crisis is no longer a future problem – we need to tackle it now, and every day matters.”

Vegan protests: ‘Un-Australian’ activists arrested, PM Morrison says

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has labelled animal rights activists as “shameful and un-Australian” after dozens were arrested in nationwide protests against the meat industry. The protests took place in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and aimed to raise publicity about animal treatment and the ethics of eating meat. Global meat consumption has increased rapidly over the past fifty years, and according to the World Economic Forum, Australia is ranked second for meat consumption per person, not far behind the US.

“We want people to go vegan – we want people to stop supporting animal abuse,” one campaigner, Kristin Leigh, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “Animals are suffering in ways that most of us could never imagine. It is not about bigger cages – it is about animal liberation.”

However, Morrison criticised the activists, telling radio station 2GB, “This is just another form of activism that I think runs against the national interest, and the national interest is [farmers] being able to farm their own land.”

He later urged state authorities to bring “the full force of the law… against these green-collared criminals.”

Police said thirty eight protestors were arrested in Melbourne and a further nine in Goulborn, 168km south of Sydney, after chaining themselves to machinery.

The Clean Collective Vegan Protests Source: bbc.co.uk

Two-thirds of glacier ice in the Alps ‘will melt by 2100’

If emissions continue to rise at their current rate, two-thirds of ice in the glaciers of the Alps is doomed to melt by the end of the century, a study has found.

Research shows that half of the ice in the mountain chain’s 4,000 glaciers will be gone by 2050. After that, even if carbon emissions have plummeted to zero, two-thirds of the ice will still have melted by 2100. The loss of the glaciers would have a severe impact on the availability of water for farming and hydroelectricity, especially during droughts, and affect both nature and tourism.

“Glaciers in the European Alps and their recent evolution are some of the clearest indicators of the ongoing changes in climate,” said Daniel Farinotti, a glaciologist at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and one of the research team.

The latest research, published in the journal The Cyrosphere and presented at the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna on Tuesday, combined computer models with real world data to forecast the fate of the glaciers, using 2017 as its starting point. Unlike previous work, the models explicitly included how the glaciers move down the mountains, leading to lower projected ice losses compared with earlier research. The researchers said applying this approach to other glaciated mountain chains could improve ice loss forecasts there.

Cutting the emissions from fossil-fuel burning, deforestation and other polluting activities is the biggest factor in minimising the melting of the ice. Farinotti said: “The future of these glaciers in indeed at risk, but there is still a possibility to limit their future losses.”

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