The Weekly Roundup – Dec 21, 2018

World / Plastics

1/ The deepest point on Earth is heavily polluted with plastic, scientists have discovered, showing how pervasively the world has been contaminated. The analysis found that the concentration of microplastics increased as the sample sites descended the trench. At the bottom, they reached a maximum of 2,200 pieces per litre in sediments and 13 pieces per litre in water. (The Guardian)

Australia / Climate Change

2/ Australia to miss 2030 emissions targets by vast margin. It projects total emissions in 2030 will be 563 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is an emissions reduction of 7% on 2005 levels. Australia’s targets under the Paris agreement are for a 26% to 28% emissions reduction on 2005 levels. (The Guardian)

World / Plastics

3/ A new study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, is the first global analysis of all plastics ever made. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills. That amount is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building. Half the resins and fibers used in plastics were produced in the last 13 years, the study found. Much of the growth in plastic production has been the increased use of plastic packaging, which accounts for more than 40 percent of non-fiber plastic. (National Geographic)

Australia / Deforestation

4/ More than 700,000 hectares of forest and bushland were destroyed in Queensland, Australia in the past two years and 40% of it occurred in Great Barrier Reef catchments. The government has published its statewide landcover and trees study data for 2016-17 and 2017-18 which shows, before new laws came into effect this year that are yet to be measured, tree-clearing was still continuing at a rate more than 1,000 football fields every day. (The Guardian)

Cambodia / Animals

5/ Cambodia seized more than 3.2 tonnes of elephant tusks hidden in a storage container sent from Mozambique, marking the country’s largest ivory bust. The discovery of 1,026 tusks at the Phnom Penh port followed a tip from the US embassy and highlights Cambodia’s emergence as a key regional transit point for the multibillion dollar trade in illicit wildlife. Demand from China and Vietnam has fuelled the growth of illegal wildlife trafficking via Cambodia. (Phnom Penh Post / The Guardian)

The good news…

World / Climate Change

6/After two weeks of negotiations, officials from almost 200 countries now agree on universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming. Countries have agreed on a 156-page rulebook, which is broken down into themes such as how countries will report and monitor their national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions and update their emissions plans. (Vox / BBCABC / NYT)

Other notables…

  • Scientists have identified a new species of tree that is thought to have become extinct before it was even named. The tree, which has now been called Vepris bali, is believed to have been unique to a forest reserve in west Africa, but forest clearing and agricultural development have wiped it out. (Independent)
  • Is private funding the only way to save national parks in Australia? (The Guardian / The Guardian 2)

  • Flooding of huge swathes of land caused by the melting of a huge Antarctic ice sheet around 125,000 years ago, could be seen again today because the world’s temperatures are similar, scientists have suggested. Temperatures during this interglacial period, also known as the Emian, were only one or two degrees warmer than today’s average temperatures across the planet, but sea levels were between six and nine metres higher. (The Independent

  • Destructive trawling is more intense inside official marine sanctuaries, while endangered fish are more common outside them, a startling analysis of Europe’s seas has revealed. (The Guardian)
  • Australia is experiencing more extreme heat, longer fire seasons, rising oceans and more marine heatwaves consistent with a changing climate, according to the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s state of the climate report. (ABC / The Guardian)
  • A five-year study found “alarming” levels of some chemicals in unhealthy turtles on the Great Barrier Reef. In the coastal locations, turtles were found to have elevated levels of metals such as cobalt, antimony and manganese in their blood and food and showed signs of poorer health. (WWF / The Guardian)
  • Seals living off the coast of the UK face a threat to their survival from toxic chemicals that are ending up in pups’ milk, a new study has revealed. (The Independent)
  • The Trump administration has proposed selling 70 acres of an important wildlife conservation area adjacent to California’s San Bernardino National Forest to a limestone mining company after it dumped mineral waste materials on a portion of the federal land without permission. (Huffington Post)
  • California on Friday became the first state to mandate a full shift to electric buses on public transit routes. Starting in 2029, mass transit agencies in California will only be allowed to buy buses that are fully electric under a rule adopted by the state’s powerful clean air agency. (NYT)

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