The Weekly Roundup – Nov 16, 2018

World / Oceans

1/ China, Russia and Norway block landmark Antarctic ocean sanctuary plan. With less sea ice, there is burgeoning interest in shipping and other commercial activity throughout the Northwest Passage. Summer sea ice cover has shrunk by over 30 percent since satellites started regular monitoring in 1979. It would have banned all commercial fishing in an area roughly the size of Sudan – 1.8 million sq km – and given a chance for wildlife and fish species to recover from damage by humans. This was a historic opportunity to create the largest protected area on Earth in the Antarctic: safeguarding wildlife, tackling climate change and improving the health of our global oceans.  Scientists are clear that we need to create marine sanctuaries across at least 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030, to protect wildlife, ensure food security for billions and help to tackle climate change (The Independent / The Conversation)

America / Climate Change

2/ California faces its most destructive wildfire in state history. The wildfires are hardly “natural” — humans made them worse at every step. We fuel them. We build next to them. We ignite them. (Vox / NYT / Huffington Post / BBC)

World / Oceans

3/ Children born today may be the last generation to see coral reefs in all their glory, according to a marine biologist who is coordinating efforts to monitor the decline of the world’s most colorful ecosystem. Global warming and ocean acidification have already severely bleached 16 to 33% of all warm-water reefs, but the remainder are vulnerable to even a fraction of a degree more warming. (The Guardian / UN)

World / Climate Change

4/ Heatwaves can damage the sperm of insects and make them almost sterile, according to new research. Heatwaves halved the amount of offspring males could produce, and a second heatwave almost sterilised males. Climate change is affecting biodiversity around the world, but the drivers remain poorly understood. (BBC)

Read: The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse. Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, slight though this possibility may appear; and preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. (George Monbiot – The Guardian)

The good news…

World / Climate Change

5/ Spain has set out plans to switch entirely to renewable electricity by 2050, with goals that go further than current European Union plans. The nation intends to invest massively in wind and solar power over the next decade, while banning new licences for fossil fuel drilling and fracking wells. It is also planning to source 70 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2050. In 2017 Spain got roughly a third of its power from renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. (The Independent)

World / Animals

6/ Fin whales, grey whales and mountain gorillas back from the brink of extinction thanks to conservation efforts. However, despite the success of this subspecies, the eastern gorilla species to which it belongs remains critically endangered, and the future survival of these apes is still on a knife edge. (Independent / BBC)

Australia / Animals

7/ Humpback whales, once hunted around the world to the point that they became so rare that the industry built on their blubber went belly-up, is booming. Since the whaling stations were closed, humpbacks that visit Western Australia have become the good news story that defies the trend of environmental doom and gloom.“It’s been estimated that they’ve been increasing at about 10 per cent per year, which is the maximum rate that a population can recover at.” (ABC)

Other notables…

  • Climate change is forcing predators to move into Arctic nesting grounds & pushing endangered shorebird species towards extinction. (The Independent)
  • Even though meat production is known to be a major contributor to climate change and environmental destruction, worldwide demand for meat continues to rise, said UN environment agency, UNEP, in a statement released on Thursday. (UN)
  • A lack of research into platypus numbers is leaving the iconic mammal vulnerable to extinction. CESAR has just launched a three-year national survey of platypus numbers in partnership with the University of Melbourne and the San Diego Zoo in the United States. (ABC)
  • Turtle roadkill awareness needed to save Australian species under threat. Turtles are being killed on the road during nesting season and it is now a major factor in their declining population. (ABC)

  • Watch the stirring anti-palm oil ad deemed too political for TV. The animated film, narrated by Emma Thompson, shows an orangutan making a child’s bedroom its home after its mother and habitat were destroyed for palm oil. (Huffington Post)

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