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This WA town just topped 50℃ – a dangerous temperature many Australians will have to get used to

<p>While Australians are used to summer heat, most of us only have to endure the occasional day over 40℃.</p> <p>Yesterday though, the temperature <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/onslow-in-the-pilbara-equals-australias-hottest-day-on-record/100754082">peaked at 50.7℃</a> in Onslow, a small Western Australian town around 100km from Exmouth.</p> <p>Remarkably, the town sits right next to the ocean, which usually provides cooling. By contrast, the infamously hot WA town of Marble Bar has <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-01/marble-bar-christmas-hottest-town-australia/100731946">only reached 49.6℃</a> this summer, despite its inland location.</p> <p>If confirmed, the Onslow temperature would equal Australia’s hottest on record <a href="https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/oodnadatta-holds-the-record-for-australias-hottest-temperature-and-it-looks-set-to-get-even-warmer/news-story/36a0585310acc37be3d14674569526a3">set in Oodnadatta</a>, South Australia, in January 1960. It would also mark only the fourth day over 50℃ for an Australian location since reliable observations began.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this extreme heat is becoming more common as the world heats up. The number of days over 50℃ has <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58494641">doubled since the 1980s</a>. These dangerous temperatures are now being <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/aug/13/halfway-boiling-city-50c">recorded more often</a> – not just in Australia but in cities in Pakistan, India and the Persian Gulf. This poses real threats to the health of people enduring them.</p> <h2>Where did the heat come from?</h2> <p>Hitting such extreme temperatures requires heat to build up over several days.</p> <p>Onslow’s temperatures had been <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=122&amp;p_display_type=dailyDataFile&amp;p_stn_num=005017&amp;p_startYear=">close to average</a> since a couple of heatwaves struck the Pilbara in the second half of December. So where did this unusual heat come from?</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440801/original/file-20220113-19-77sy3.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440801/original/file-20220113-19-77sy3.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">This weather chart from 13th January 2022 illustrates the conditions just half an hour before the record-equalling 50.7℃ was recorded. The blue dashed line marks the trough which meets the coast close to Onslow and helped bring in the hot air.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Bureau of Meteorology</span></span></p> <p>In short, from the bakingly hot desert. South to south-easterly winds blew very hot air from the interior of the state up to Onslow. The wind came from an area that has had little to no rainfall since November, so the very hot air was also extremely dry.</p> <p>Dry air kept the sun beating at full intensity by preventing any cloud cover or storm formation. The result? The temperature rose and rose through the morning and early afternoon, and the temperature spiked at over 50℃ just before 2.30pm local time.</p> <h2>Aren’t we in a cooler La Niña period?</h2> <p>Australia’s weather is strongly linked to conditions in the Pacific Ocean. At the moment we’re in <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/">a La Niña event</a> where we have cooler than normal ocean temperatures near the equator in the central and east Pacific.</p> <p>La Niña is typically associated with cooler, wetter conditions. But its effects on Australian weather are <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=lanina">strongest in spring</a>, when we had unusually <a href="https://theconversation.com/back-so-soon-la-nina-heres-why-were-copping-two-soggy-summers-in-a-row-173684">wet and cool conditions</a> over the east of the continent.</p> <p>During summer the relationship between La Niña and Australian weather usually weakens, with its strongest impacts normally confined to the northeast of the continent.</p> <p>During La Niña we typically see fewer and less intense heatwaves across much of eastern Australia, but the intensity of heat extremes in Western Australia is <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2015JD023592">not very different </a>between La Niña and El Niño.</p> <p>The pattern of extreme heat in Western Australia and flooding in parts of Queensland is fairly typical of a La Niña summer, although temperatures over 50℃ are extremely rare.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440812/original/file-20220114-23-1b2bb55.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="men pump water from flooded street" /> <span class="caption">Recent flooding in Queensland is also typical of La Nina summers.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">RAPID RELIEF TEAM</span></span></p> <h2>Climate change is cranking up the heat</h2> <p>Should these temperatures be a surprise? Sadly, no. Australia has warmed by <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/australias-changing-climate.shtml">around 1.4℃ since 1910</a>, well ahead of the <a href="https://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20220113/">global average of 1.1℃</a>.</p> <p>In northern Australia, summer-average temperatures have not <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/#tabs=Tracker&amp;tracker=trend-maps&amp;tQ=map%3Dtmean%26area%3Daus%26season%3D1202%26period%3D1930">risen as much</a> as other parts of the country, because summers in the Top End have also got wetter. That’s in line with climate change models.</p> <p>When the conditions are right in the Pilbara, however, heat is significantly more extreme than it used to be. Heat events in the region have become <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2020EF001924">more frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting</a>, just as in most other regions.</p> <p>Most of us have chosen not to live in Australia’s hottest areas. So you might think you don’t need to worry about 50℃ heatwaves. But as the climate continues to warm, heatwave conditions are expected to become much more common and extreme across the continent.</p> <p>In urban areas, roads and concrete soak up the sun’s heat, raising maximum temperatures by several degrees and making for dangerous conditions.</p> <p>Even if we keep global warming below 2℃ in line with the Paris Agreement, we can still expect to see our first <a href="https://science.anu.edu.au/news-events/news/melbourne-and-sydney-should-prepare-50-degree-days">50℃ days in Sydney and Melbourne</a> in coming years. In January 2020 the Western Sydney suburb of Penrith came very close, <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/sydney-s-penrith-the-hottest-place-on-earth-amid-devastating-bushfires/990f7843-278b-4973-90ab-b6dcb01c97aa">reaching 48.9℃</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440813/original/file-20220114-19-defesm.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="man holds child in front of cooling mist machine" /> <span class="caption">Sydney and Melbourne will experience 50℃ days in coming years.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Joe Castro/AAP</span></span></p> <p>As you know, it’s going to be very hard to achieve even keeping global warming below 2℃, given the need to urgently slash greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade.</p> <p>As it stands, the world’s actions on emission reduction suggest we are actually on track for around <a href="https://climateactiontracker.org/global/cat-thermometer/">2.7℃ of warming</a>, which would see <a href="https://theconversation.com/theres-no-end-to-the-damage-humans-can-wreak-on-the-climate-this-is-how-bad-its-likely-to-get-166031">devastating consequences</a> for life on Earth.</p> <p>We already know what we need to do to prevent this frightening future. The stronger the action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally – including by major carbon emitting countries such as Australia – the less the world will warm and the less Australian heat extremes will intensify. That’s because the relationships between greenhouse gas emissions, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16542">global temperatures</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-12520-2">Australian heat extremes</a> are roughly linear.</p> <p>You may think Australians are good at surviving the heat. But the climate you were born in doesn’t exist any more. Sadly, our farms, wildlife, and suburbs will struggle to cope with the extreme heat projected for coming decades.</p> <p>Let’s work to make this 50℃ record an outlier – and not the new normal.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/174909/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-king-103126">Andrew King</a>, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/this-wa-town-just-topped-50-a-dangerous-temperature-many-australians-will-have-to-get-used-to-174909">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Why there is a tiny hole in your airplane window

<p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p>Next time you sit in the window seat, take a closer look and you might spot a tiny hole in the glass pane.</p> <p>But don’t panic – not only is that normal, but without them, there could be huge problems on-board. This strange design helps the aircraft to withstand the changing air pressure outside.</p> <p>Even though it may look like there’s a hole, the small gap doesn’t go through the entire pane.</p> <p>Each window is made up of three different acrylic layers, and it’s only the middle one that contains the breather hole.</p> <p>The small gap helps to regulate the high pressure environment on the plane, making the experience far more comfortable for passengers.</p> <p>Pilot Mark Vanhoenacker previously revealed: “The outer two cabin windows are designed to contain this difference in pressure between the cabin and the sky.</p> <p>“Both the middle and the outer panes are strong enough to withstand the difference on their own, but under normal circumstances it’s the outer pane that bears this pressure — thanks to the breather hole.”</p> <p>As well as being vital for passenger safety, the breather hole has another important function. The small gap allows moisture to escape the aircraft, preventing fog from forming on the window</p> <p>It isn’t the only strange thing you might spot on planes. Keen-eyed passengers may notice tiny black triangles on the walls of their plane.</p> <p>These indicate the position from which the wings can best be seen by staff from inside the aircraft.</p> <p>They can then quickly check the position of the flaps or slats if required from the appropriate window.</p> <p>There are also tiny yellow hooks on the wings which help staff evacuations over the wing and are used to secure and tether life rafts to the plane.</p>

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Experience the spectacular sounds of a Murrumbidgee wetland erupting with life as water returns

<p>In the southwestern corner of New South Wales, along the Murrumbidgee river, frogs are calling in a wetland called Nap Nap. This is <a href="https://www.narinari.org/our-journey">Nari Nari</a> country – nap nap means “very swampy” in traditional language.</p> <p>Nap Nap is one of many inland wetlands across Australia to receive so-called “environmental water”: water allocated and managed to improve the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains.</p> <p><a href="https://flow-mer.org.au/">Long-term monitoring</a> shows how these environmental flows sustain big old trees and cycle nutrients through the ecosystem. They drive breeding for frogs, waterbirds, reptiles and fish, and protect endangered species. This is a good news story for our inland waterways – but it’s mostly told through scientific reports.</p> <p>We wanted to use ecological data to convey not just facts but feelings, and create a vivid digital portrait of life in Nap Nap. So we recently produced <a href="https://flow-mer.org.au/napnap/">The Sound of Water</a>, using audio, images and water data to reveal the patterns and rhythms of the swamp.</p> <p>In part, this is about finding an engaging way to tell an important story. But there’s a bigger agenda here too: how might we use environmental data to amplify humanity’s attachment to the living world?</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439776/original/file-20220107-13-1wm9dil.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439776/original/file-20220107-13-1wm9dil.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A view of a forest wetland, with water surrounded by tall gum trees" /></a> <span class="caption">Nap Nap wetland, the name of which means ‘very swampy’ in traditional language.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Gayleen Bourke</span></span></p> <h2>Addressing an imbalance</h2> <p>Healthy wetlands rely on varying river flows. When a river is flooding or at high flow, water is delivered to wetlands, enabling seeds to sprout and animals to move and breed. When the river is at low flow, wetlands enter a natural drying phase.</p> <p>But across Australia, thousands of wetlands have lost their natural connection to rivers. Lower river flows – the result of water regulation and diversions required to meet human needs – means many wetlands no longer experience these natural cycles.</p> <p>Environmental flows seek to address this imbalance. Managed by water authorities, the flows involve strategically delivering water to replenish rivers, wetlands and floodplains.</p> <p>Our project – a design-science collaboration – was funded by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office’s <a href="https://flow-mer.org.au">Flow-MER program</a>, which undertakes long-term monitoring of the ecological impact of environmental water allocations.</p> <h2>The Sound of Water</h2> <p>Across nine days in spring of 2020, an environmental flow of about 16,000 million litres rolled into Nap Nap swamp in the Lowbidgee floodplain after a brief dry spell. The Lowbidgee floodplain is near the confluence of the Kalari (Lachlan) and Murrumbidgee rivers in New South Wales.</p> <p>The frogs began calling as the water returned. But don’t take our word for it - <a href="https://theconversation.com/experience-the-spectacular-sounds-of-a-murrumbidgee-wetland-erupting-with-life-as-water-returns-174423">listen for yourself.</a></p> <p>In this clip, you can hear the squelchy, “cree-cree” call of tiny, hardy Murray Valley froglets. You can also hear inland banjo frogs, whose “dok” call sounds a bit like a plucked string; spotted marsh frogs with a machine-gun like “duk-duk-duk”; and the shrill, rattling call of Peron’s tree frog.</p> <p>This recording comes from an audio logger used in Flow-MER’s environmental monitoring. These automatic devices record for five minutes every hour, day and night – that’s two hours of sound captured every day.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/440161/original/file-20220111-17-5maxbu.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A small light grey frog on a tree branch calling, with its throat puffed out" /> <span class="caption">The Peron’s tree frog has a shrill, rattling call.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Damian Michael</span></span></p> <h2>Seeing wetland sounds</h2> <p>To reveal the content of all this audio, we used a visual representation of sound known as a spectrogram. We adapted a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2014.05.063">technique</a> developed by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology which enables ecologists to visualise and analyse thousands of hours of recordings.</p> <p>We visualised almost a year’s worth of audio from Nap Nap – more than 700 hours.</p> <p>The below image contains spectrograms of audio from June 2020, which was a dry period in the swamp. The colourful central band corresponds to the noisy daylight hours, when woodland birds dominate.</p> <p>The vivid blue areas are wind and rain noise. The pink and orange are mostly bird calls, and continuous sounds like cricket calls show up as strong horizontal bands (top right).</p> <p>The mostly dark outer bands correspond to the nights, which in dry periods are fairly quiet.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439614/original/file-20220106-19-77zfci.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439614/original/file-20220106-19-77zfci.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Spectrograms of audio showing the patterns and variation of activity across 10 days" /></a> <span class="caption">Spectrograms of Nap Nap audio from June 2020. Each row shows a single day, made up of 24 hourly segments.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Authors provided</span></span></p> <p>But as the environmental water flow reached Nap Nap, the night lit up with frog calls. Our story focuses on this moment. We found a way to link the visuals to the source audio, creating interactive timelines in which we can see, hear and explore the wetland soundscape.</p> <p>The stars of our story are Nap Nap’s frogs, and our most important find was a southern bell frog. Once widespread across southeastern Australia, these frogs are now found in only a few isolated populations.</p> <p>Their distinctive call indicates the ecological health of Nap Nap, and the value of these environmental flows. Here you can listen to its deep, growling call, which appears as a sequence of pink and purple blobs along the bottom of the spectrogram.</p> <p><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/663205855" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">Spectrogram of a southern bell frog calling at Nap Nap (3 September 2020, 8pm). Image: Gayleen Bourke.</span></p> <h2>A data portrait of a living place</h2> <p>Our design uses a scroll-based interaction technique sometimes termed “<a href="https://medium.com/nightingale/from-storytelling-to-scrollytelling-a-short-introduction-and-beyond-fbda32066964">scrollytelling</a>”. It works because it’s familiar (everyone can scroll) and translates well to all kinds of devices. It lets us lead the audience step by step into the place, the data and the spectrograms, while still encouraging exploration.</p> <p><a href="https://flow-mer.org.au/napnap/">The Sound of Water</a> builds on established techniques to create something new. It shows how design and science can unite to tell environmental stories in a richer way – with both facts and feelings. This matters because Nap Nap, and thousands of places like it, need people to care about their protection.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mitchell-whitelaw-1167325">Mitchell Whitelaw</a>, Professor of Design, School of Art and Design, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/skye-wassens-451800">Skye Wassens</a>, Associate Professor in Ecology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/experience-the-spectacular-sounds-of-a-murrumbidgee-wetland-erupting-with-life-as-water-returns-174423">original article</a>.</p>

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Sydney to Newcastle fast rail makes sense. Making trains locally does not

<p>Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese <a href="https://anthonyalbanese.com.au/our-policies/sydney-to-hunter-fast-rail">this week announced</a> a commitment to funding high-speed rail between Sydney and Newcastle.</p> <p>At speeds of more than 250km/h, this would cut the 150-minute journey from Sydney to Newcastle to just 45 minutes. Commuting between the two cities would be a lot more feasible.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439624/original/file-20220106-21-19utua0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439624/original/file-20220106-21-19utua0.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Proposed route for high-speed Melbourne to Brisbane rail.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/map/corridor-preservation-east-coast-high-speed-rail" class="source">Infrastructure Australia</a></span></p> <p>The Sydney-Newcastle link would be a first step in a grand plan to link the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor by high-speed rail.</p> <p>Albanese also wants the trains to be built at home, <a href="https://anthonyalbanese.com.au/our-policies/sydney-to-hunter-fast-rail">saying</a> “we will look build as much of our fast and high-speed rail future in Australia as is possible”.</p> <p>Of course, this idea has been around for a long time. Nobody has ever got the numbers to stack up before.</p> <p>Federal infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher made the obvious but reasonable point that such a rail link would be very expensive.</p> <p>“It is $200 to $300 billion on any credible estimate,” he <a href="https://newcastleweekly.com.au/coalition-pulls-brakes-on-labors-fast-rail-plans/">said in response</a> to Labor’s announcement. “It has to be paid for, and that means higher taxes”.</p> <p>Or does it?</p> <h2>Social cost-benefit analysis</h2> <p>Traditional cost-benefit analysis is how governments tend to make decisions about big infrastructure projects like this. Figure out the costs (such as $300 billion) and then figure out the benefits. Adjust for timing differences and when money is spent and received, and then compare.</p> <p>This generates an “internal rate of return” (IRR) on the money invested. It’s what private companies do all the time. One then compares that IRR to some reference or “hurdle” rate. For a private company that might be 12% or so. For governments it is typically lower.</p> <p>An obvious question this raises is: what are the benefits?</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439623/original/file-20220106-27-vyofyv.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/439623/original/file-20220106-27-vyofyv.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">An artist’s impression by Phil Belbin of the proposed VFT (Very Fast Train) in the 1980s.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Comeng</span></span></p> <p>If all one is willing to count are things such as ticket fares, the numbers will almost never stack up. But that’s far too narrow a way to think about the financial benefits.</p> <p>A Sydney-Newcastle high-speed rail link would cut down on travel times, help ease congestion in Sydney, ease housing affordability pressures in Sydney, improve property values along the corridor and in Newcastle, provide better access to education and jobs, and more.</p> <p>The point is one has to think about the social value from government investments, not just the narrow commercial value. Alex Rosenberg, Rosalind Dixon and I provided a framework for this kind of “social return accounting” in a <a href="http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/richardholden/assets/social-return-accounting.pdf">report</a> published in 2018.</p> <h2>Newcastle might make sense, Brisbane might not</h2> <p>I haven’t done the social cost-benefit analysis for this rail link, but the social return being greater than the cost is quite plausible.</p> <p>The other thing to remember is that the return a government should require has fallen materially in recent years. The Australian government can borrow for 10 years at just 1.78%, as opposed to <a href="http://www.worldgovernmentbonds.com/bond-historical-data/australia/10-years/">well over 5%</a> before the financial crisis of 2008.</p> <p>I’m less sure about the Brisbane to Melbourne idea. The cost would be dramatically higher for obvious reasons, as well as the fact that the topography en route to Brisbane is especially challenging.</p> <p>Nobody is going to commute from Sydney to Brisbane by rail, and the air routes between the three capitals are well serviced.</p> <h2>Transport policy is not industry policy</h2> <p>The decision about building a Sydney-Newcastle rail link is, and should be kept, completely separate from where the trains are made. Transport policy shouldn’t be hijacked for industry policy.</p> <p>To be fair, Newcastle has a long and proud history of <a href="https://www.ugllimited.com/en/our-sectors/transport">manufacturing rolling stock</a>, at what was the Goninan factory at Broadmeadow – much of it for export.</p> <p>But ask yourself how sustainable that industry looks in Australia, absent massive government support. Can it stand on its own?</p> <p>It’s also true there have been some recent high-profile procurement disasters buying overseas trains.</p> <p>Sydney’s light-rail project has run massively late and over budget, with Spanish company Acciona getting an extra A$600 million due to the project being more difficult than expected.</p> <p>Then <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/transport-minister-expects-spanish-manufacturer-to-pay-for-cracked-trams-20211110-p597tq.html">cracks were found</a> in all 12 trams for the city’s inner-west line, putting them out of service for 18 months.</p> <p>These are terrible bungles due to the government agreeing to poorly written contracts with sophisticated counterparties. When contracts don’t specify contingencies there is the possibility of what economists call the “<a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1530-9134.2009.00236.x">hold-up problem</a>”.</p> <p>But these problems could have occurred with a local maker too.</p> <h2>The Tinbergen Rule</h2> <p>An enduring lesson from economics is the Tinbergen Rule – named after <a href="https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/1969/tinbergen/facts/">Jan Tinbergen</a>, winner of the first Nobel prize for economics.</p> <p>This rule says for each policy challenge one requires an independent policy instrument. This can be <a href="https://theconversation.com/vital-signs-evergrande-may-survive-but-for-its-executives-expect-a-fate-worse-than-debt-168930">widely applied</a>. But here the lesson is particularly clear.</p> <p>Addressing housing affordability is a good idea, and a Sydney-Newcastle link could help with that. But if Labor want a jobs policy it should develop one.</p> <p>The more TAFE places Labor has already announced is a reasonable start.</p> <p>Reviving 1970s-style industry policy – something that has almost never worked – is not a good move. Governments are lousy at picking winners. The public invariably ends up paying more for less, and the jobs are typically transient.</p> <p>But aside from this conflation of policy goals, Albanese deserves credit for being bold about the future of high-speed rail in Australia.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/richard-holden-118107">Richard Holden</a>, Professor of Economics, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/vital-signs-sydney-to-newcastle-fast-rail-makes-sense-making-trains-locally-does-not-174341">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Hitting the beach this summer? Here are some of our top animal picks to look out for

<p>Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world. And it’s packed with life of all shapes and sizes – from lively dolphins leaping offshore, to tiny crabs scurrying into their holes.</p> <p>Here is just some of the diverse coastal life you might expect to see this summer, if you <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320720307722">spend some</a> time at the water’s edge.</p> <h2>Dolphins and turtles</h2> <p>We’re fortunate to have 15 species of dolphin (and one porpoise!) living in Australian waters. The large <a href="https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/bottlenose-dolphin/">bottlenose dolphins</a> (<em>Tursiops spp.</em>) are relatively common and can be spotted all the way around our coast.</p> <p>You might see them playing in the waves, jumping out of the water, or even surfing among humans.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436606/original/file-20211209-133881-1px5omu.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436606/original/file-20211209-133881-1px5omu.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Bottlenose dolphin mother and cals" /></a> <span class="caption">Bottlenose dolphins are generally grey with a lighter underside and have a pronounced, curved dorsal (upper) fin.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Turtles are less obvious, but can be spotted as they bob their heads out of the water to breathe. Australia’s coasts are home to six of the world’s seven sea turtles (all <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicthreatenedlist.pl?wanted=fauna">listed as either vulnerable or endangered</a>).</p> <p>The more common green turtle (<em>Chelonia mydas</em>) can be found everywhere except in the coldest southern waters. In summer, the turtles travel north to the tropical waters of QLD, NT and WA to reproduce – laying their eggs in the warm sand.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436586/original/file-20211209-19-1u2t59m.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436586/original/file-20211209-19-1u2t59m.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Green turtles often get tangled in discarded fishing gear and nets and can die from ingesting plastics, so don’t litter!</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Another reptile you might encounter in the eastern coastal areas is the water dragon (<em>Intellagama lesueurii</em>). You’ll find them hovering around beach-side picnic areas, looking for tasty treats such as flies, ants, bugs, native fruits and flowers. As with all native animals, it’s important not to feed them.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436590/original/file-20211209-25-1e71enk.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436590/original/file-20211209-25-1e71enk.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Water dragons are good swimmers and stay near the water.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <h2>Heads in the clouds</h2> <p>If you cast your eyes up, you’ll see many coastal bird species soaring above.</p> <p>Two of our favourites are the protected white-bellied sea eagle (<em>Haliaeetus leucogaster</em>) and the sooty oystercatcher (<em>Haematopus fuliginosus</em>). Both rely on marine animals for food, and nest in coastal areas right around Australia.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436592/original/file-20211209-140109-1c0pnm4.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436592/original/file-20211209-140109-1c0pnm4.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">With a wingspan of up to 2m, you can find white-bellied sea eagles soaring above headlands.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">WikiCommons</span></span></p> <p>The sea eagle mostly feeds on fish, turtles and sea snakes. It was recently <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=943">listed as either threatened, endangered, or vulnerable in four states</a>, largely as a result of coastal developments.</p> <p>Meanwhile the sooty oystercatcher is, well, all black. It has distinctive bright-orange eyes and a long beak. Sooties can be found strutting among the seaweed and sea squirts on rocky shores.</p> <p>As the name suggests, these birds enjoy eating molluscs and other invertebrates.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436593/original/file-20211209-21-1h1czbf.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436593/original/file-20211209-21-1h1czbf.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">The sooty gives a loud whistling call before taking flight.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <h2>Crawling coastal critters</h2> <p>Many a critter will run for cover as sooties (and humans) approach, including the swift-footed crab (<em>Leptograpsus variegatus</em>). This crab’s mostly purple body is sprinkled with flecks of olive, and sometimes orange.</p> <p>The species lives among the rocky shores around southern Australia, from WA to QLD, and even Tasmania.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436594/original/file-20211209-137612-4uld1f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436594/original/file-20211209-137612-4uld1f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">The swift-footed crab can grow to about 5cm in shell width.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>You’re much less likely to see another common crab, the sand bubbler. But you might see the results of its industrious activity on flat, wet and sandy areas.</p> <p>Sand bubblers live in underground burrows, emerging during the low tide to filter sand through their mouthparts looking for food.</p> <p>In this process, they end up making little pea-sized sand balls. When the tide starts to rise again, they return to their burrows and wait in a bubble of air, which they use to breathe, until the tide recedes.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436596/original/file-20211209-27-ft1len.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436596/original/file-20211209-27-ft1len.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Sand bubblers, from the family Dotillidae, are tiny and will quickly hide if they sense danger.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <h2>Magnificent molluscs</h2> <p>Molluscs are another diverse group of marine animals on our shores, and one of the best known molluscs is the octopus. Along with squid and cuttlefish, this trio of cephalopods is considered to be among the most intelligent invertebrates on Earth.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436598/original/file-20211209-142574-atsquu.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436598/original/file-20211209-142574-atsquu.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Octopus in a glass jar" /></a> <span class="caption">Near urban areas, octopuses have been known to make homes of bottles, jars and even discarded coffee cups.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnwturnbull/19733728835/" class="source">John Turnbull</a>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>In the case of the octopus, this may be due to having nine “brains”, including a donut-shaped brain in the head and a mini brain in each tentacle, which allow the tentacles to operate somewhat independently.</p> <p>Australia has several octopus species, from the gloomy octopus (<em>Octopus tetricus</em>) on the east coast, to the Maori octopus (<em>O. maorum</em>) in the south. The potentially deadly blue-ringed octopus (<em>Hapalochlaena sp.</em>) is found right around Australia.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436599/original/file-20211209-137612-1dryfc0.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436599/original/file-20211209-137612-1dryfc0.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Octopus reaches for camera" /></a> <span class="caption">This gloomy octopus made a move for my camera as I took its photo.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnwturnbull/27746924942/" class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</a>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Octopus forage at night, in shallow waters and to depths exceeding 500 metres. During the day they’ll return to their lair, which may be a hole, a ledge or a crack in a rock. They’ll often decorate their home with the discarded shells of their prey.</p> <h2>(Sometimes) stingers</h2> <p>You’ve probably seen jellyfish at the beach before, too. Species such as the moon jelly (<em>Aurelia aurita</em>) are harmless. But others can deliver a painful sting; bluebottles (<em>Physalia utriculus</em>) might come to mind here, also called the Pacific man-of-war.</p> <p>Bluebottles and their relatives, blue buttons (<em>P. porpita</em>) and by-the-wind sailors (<em>V. velella</em>) don’t swim. They float at the ocean’s surface and go where the winds blow, which is how they sometimes get washed onto the beach.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436600/original/file-20211209-17-rr2j1.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436600/original/file-20211209-17-rr2j1.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Jellyfish on sand" /></a> <span class="caption">By-the-wind sailors have an angled ‘sail’ which takes advantage of the wind, moving them large distances to catch prey.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Rather than being one animal, they are made of many polyps or “zooids” living together in a floating colony. Each polyp has a specialised role such as flotation, stinging, catching prey, digestion or reproduction.</p> <p>Anemones are also related to jellyfish, and come in many shapes and colours – from the bright red waratah anemone (<em>Actinia tenebrosa</em>) found in all states, to the multi-coloured shellgrit anemone (<em>Oulactis muscosa</em>) found from SA to QLD. They use their tentacles to sting and catch prey, but have no impact on humans.</p> <p>Many anemones live among the rocks and rock pools in the intertidal area, although some species, such as the swimming anemone (<em>Phlyctenactis tuberculosa</em>), live as deep as 40m underwater.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436602/original/file-20211209-23-1h831bi.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436602/original/file-20211209-23-1h831bi.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Grid of four anemone photos." /></a> <span class="caption">Top left: shellgrit anemone, top right: swimming anemone, bottom left: red waratah anemone, bottom right: green snakelock anemone (<em>Aulactinia veratra</em>)</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <h2>Fancy fishes</h2> <p>Of course there are many fish to be seen along our shores – more than we could possibly mention here! In the shallows, we particularly like to find big-eyed <a href="https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/family/259">gobies</a>.</p> <p>Some of the most colourful fish in this zone are young damselfish. These are most diverse in tropical Australia, but still found in temperate waters. Their juvenile forms can be striped and spotted, with colours ranging from bright yellow to iridescent blue.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436605/original/file-20211209-140109-vifrk0.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436605/original/file-20211209-140109-vifrk0.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Juvenile immaculate damselfish." /></a> <span class="caption">Immaculate damsels are endemic to Australian waters.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">John Turnbull/Flickr</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>It’s best to photograph any fish you want to identify. Resources such as <a href="https://reeflifesurvey.com/species/search/">Reef Life Survey</a> and <a href="https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/">Fishes of Australia</a> can help with this.</p> <p>If you upload your photos to the <a href="https://www.inaturalist.org/">iNaturalist</a> website, other users can help you ID them too. Uploading is also a big help to scientists, who then have a record of each sighting.</p> <p>Finally, the diversity of marine life on our coast isn’t something we can afford to take for granted. So if you hit the beach this summer, make sure you:<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/171744/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <ul> <li>do not bring any single-use plastics</li> <li>never leave anything behind (and preferably pick up any litter you see)</li> <li>and keep pets and cars away from sensitive habitats, such as dunes and bird nesting areas.</li> </ul> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-turnbull-558403">John Turnbull</a>, Postdoctoral Research Associate, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-johnston-94055">Emma Johnston</a>, Professor and Dean of Science, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/hitting-the-beach-this-summer-here-are-some-of-our-top-animal-picks-to-look-out-for-171744">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: John Turnbull</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Hibbert’s flowers and Hitler’s beetle – what do we do when species are named after history’s monsters?

<p>“What’s in a name?”, <a href="https://www.bartleby.com/70/3822.html">asked Juliet of Romeo</a>. “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”</p> <p>But, as with the Montagues and Capulets, names mean a lot, and can cause a great deal of heartache.</p> <p>My colleagues and I are <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-not-the-science-of-tax-and-five-other-things-you-should-know-about-taxonomy-78926">taxonomists</a>, which means we name living things. While we’ve never named a rose, we do discover and name new Australian species of plants and animals – and there are a lot of them!</p> <p>For each new species we discover, we create and publish a Latin scientific name, following a set of international rules and conventions. The name has two parts: the first part is the genus name (such as <em>Eucalyptus</em>), which describes the group of species to which the new species belongs, and the second part is a species name (such as <em>globulus</em>, thereby making the name <em>Eucalyptus globulus</em>) particular to the new species itself. New species are either added to an existing genus, or occasionally, if they’re sufficiently novel, are given their own new genus.</p> <p>Some scientific names are widely known – arguably none more so than our own, <em>Homo sapiens</em>. And gardeners or nature enthusiasts will be familiar with genus names such as <em>Acacia</em>, <em>Callistemon</em> or <em>Banksia</em>.</p> <p>This all sounds pretty uncontroversial. But as with Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, history and tradition sometimes present problems.</p> <h2>What’s in a name?</h2> <p>Take the genus <em><a href="http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/speciesfacts_display.cgi?form=speciesfacts&amp;name=Hibbertia">Hibbertia</a></em>, the Australian guineaflowers. This is one of the largest genera of plants in Australia, and the one we study.</p> <p>There are many new and yet-unnamed species of <em>Hibbertia</em>, which means new species names are regularly added to this genus.</p> <p>Many scientific names are derived from a feature of the species or genus being named, such as <em>Eucalyptus</em>, from the Greek for “well-covered” (a reference to the operculum or bud-cap that covers unopened eucalypt flowers).</p> <p>Others <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-funny-to-name-species-after-celebrities-but-theres-a-serious-side-too-95513">honour significant people</a>, either living or dead. <em>Hibbertia</em> is named after a wealthy 19th-century English patron of botany, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Hibbert">George Hibbert</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437440/original/file-20211214-15-1u4xyy3.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="George Hibbert by Thomas Lawrence" /> <span class="caption">George Hibbert: big fan of flowers and slavery.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Hibbert_by_Thomas_Lawrence,_1811.JPG" class="source">Thomas Lawrence/Stephen C. Dickson/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-SA</a></span></p> <p>And here’s where things stop being straightforward, because Hibbert’s wealth came almost entirely from the transatlantic slave trade. He profited from taking slaves from Africa to the New World, selling some and using others on his family’s extensive plantations, then transporting slave-produced sugar and cotton back to England.</p> <p>Hibbert was also a prominent member of the British parliament and a <a href="https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/16791">staunch opponent of abolition</a>. He and his ilk argued that slavery was economically necessary for England, and even that slaves were better off on the plantations than in their homelands.</p> <p>Even at the time, his views were considered abhorrent by many critics. But despite this, he was handsomely recompensed for his “losses” when Britain finally abolished slavery in 1807.</p> <p>So, should Hibbert be honoured with the name of a genus of plants, to which new species are still being added today – effectively meaning he is honoured afresh with each new publication?</p> <p>We don’t believe so. Just like statues, buildings, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/was-first-governor-james-stirling-had-links-to-slavery-as-well-as-directing-a-massacre-should-he-be-honoured-162078">street or suburb names</a>, we think a reckoning is due for scientific species names that honour people who held views or acted in ways that are deeply dishonourable, highly problematic or truly egregious by modern standards.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437442/original/file-20211214-13-1yaho8u.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="Anophthalmus hitleri" /> <span class="caption">This beetle doesn’t deserve to be named after the most reviled figure of the 20th century.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anophthalmus_hitleri_HabitusDors.jpg" class="source">Michael Munich/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-SA</a></span></p> <p>Just as Western Australia’s King Leopold Range <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-03/wa-king-leopold-ranges-renamed-wunaamin-miliwundi-ranges/12416254">was recently renamed</a> to remove the link to the atrocious <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_II_of_Belgium">Leopold II of Belgium</a>, we would like <em>Hibbertia</em> to bear a more appropriate and less troubling name.</p> <p>The same goes for the Great Barrier Reef coral <em><a href="http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/elegance-coral/">Catalaphyllia jardinei</a></em>, named after Frank Jardine, a brutal dispossessor of Aboriginal people in North Queensland. And, perhaps most astoundingly, the rare Slovenian cave beetle <em><a href="https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/773804">Anophthalmus hitleri</a></em>, which was named in 1933 in honour of Adolf Hitler.</p> <p>This name is unfortunate for several reasons: despite being a small, somewhat nondescript, blind beetle, in recent years it has been reportedly <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/fans-exterminate-hitler-beetle-6232054.html">pushed to the brink of extinction</a> by Nazi memorabilia enthusiasts. Specimens are even being stolen from museum collections for sale into this lucrative market.</p> <h2>Aye, there’s the rub</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the official rules don’t allow us to rename <em>Hibbertia</em> or any other species that has a troubling or inappropriate name.</p> <p>To solve this, we propose a change to the international rules for naming species. Our <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/tax.12620">proposal</a>, if adopted, would establish an international expert committee to decide what do about scientific names that honour inappropriate people or are based on culturally offensive words.</p> <p>An example of the latter is the <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/tax.12622">many names of plants</a> based on the Latin <em>caffra</em>, the origin of which is a word so offensive to Black Africans that its use is <a href="https://www.cfr.org/blog/k-word-south-africa-and-proposed-new-penalties-against-hate-speech">banned in South Africa</a>.</p> <p>Some may argue the scholarly naming of species should remain aloof from social change, and that Hibbert’s views on slavery are irrelevant to the classification of Australian flowers. We counter that, just like <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Edward_Colston">toppling statues in Bristol Harbour</a> or <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/18/goodbye-cecil-rhodes-house-renamed-to-lose-link-to-british-empire-builder-in-africa">removing Cecil Rhodes’ name from public buildings</a>, renaming things is important and necessary if we are to right history’s wrongs.</p> <p>We believe that science, including taxonomy, must be socially responsible and responsive. Science is embedded in culture rather than housed in ivory towers, and scientists should work for the common good rather than blindly follow tradition. Deeply problematic names pervade science just as they pervade our streets, cities and landscapes.</p> <p><em>Hibbertia</em> may be just a name, but we believe a different name for this lovely genus of Australian flowers would smell much sweeter.</p> <p><em>This article was co-authored by Tim Hammer, a postdoctoral research fellow at the State Herbarium of South Australia.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172602/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kevin-thiele-136882">Kevin Thiele</a>, Adjunct Assoc. Professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/hibberts-flowers-and-hitlers-beetle-what-do-we-do-when-species-are-named-after-historys-monsters-172602">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: John Tann/Wikimedia Commons</em></p>

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The real reason to worry about sharks in Australian waters this summer: 1 in 8 are endangered

<p>If you’re heading to the beach this summer, the thought of sharks might cross your mind. I don’t mean wondering whether a shark will take you for dinner (that’s very, very unlikely) but rather, how these remarkable creatures are faring in the marine ecosystem.</p> <p>I recently led the first complete assessment of all species of sharks, rays and ghost sharks in Australian waters. My team and I found while most species are secure, about 12%, or 39 species, are threatened with extinction.</p> <p>No country has a higher diversity of sharks than Australia. That means we have a special responsibility to protect them from threats such as fishing and damage to their marine habitat.</p> <p>To prevent shark extinctions on our watch, Australia must invest far more heavily to close vast knowledge gaps and ensure threatened species are protected and recovered.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425737/original/file-20211011-25-16shqs7.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="a stingray" /> <span class="caption">The research examined all species of sharks, rays and ghost sharks found in Australian waters, including the bluespotted fantail ray, pictured.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Simon Pierce</span></span></p> <h2>Ancient ocean dwellers</h2> <p>Sharks are an ancient lineage of fishes that have roamed the oceans for around <a href="https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/shark-evolution-a-450-million-year-timeline.html">450 million years</a>. They occupy tropical, temperate and polar marine waters, while a small number have adapted to live in freshwater.</p> <p>Sharks and their relatives, rays and ghost sharks, are known as cartilaginous fishes. Some 328 of the world’s cartilaginous fishes – comprising one-quarter of the world’s total – occur in Australian waters, including the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters. Of these, 138 are found nowhere else on Earth.</p> <p>Globally, sharks face a dire conservation crisis. About <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/">32% of species</a> are threatened with extinction and less than half are assessed as “Least Concern” (not at risk of extinction).</p> <p>The main threats around the world are overfishing combined with <a href="https://www.cms.int/en/publication/sharks-ahead-realizing-potential-convention-migratory-species-conserve-elasmobranchs-0">inadequate management</a> such as a lack of fishing regulations, weak protections for threatened species and poor implementation of international agreements.</p> <p>Australia’s relatively better position is a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsx113">result</a> of a long history of ocean policy and fisheries management. Australia also has extensive areas with only <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/abares/research-topics/fisheries/fishery-status-reports#full-report">limited or no fishing pressure</a> as well as a representative network of <a href="https://parksaustralia.gov.au/marine/">marine parks</a>.</p> <p>But some regions, particularly waters off Australia’s southeast, have experienced <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/abares/research-topics/fisheries/fishery-status-reports#full-report">high</a> levels of fishing pressure which threaten some species.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nespmarine.edu.au/system/files/Shark_Action_Plan_FINAL_Sept7_2021_WEB_RGB.pdf">Other threats</a> to sharks in Australian waters include shark control measures in some states, habitat degradation, aquaculture and climate change.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/425734/original/file-20211011-23-1cp10rw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Sharks rays and ghost sharks are known as cartilaginous fishes. Pictured: the threatened Melbourne Skate.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Ian Shaw</span></span></p> <h2>What the research found</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.nespmarine.edu.au/news/threatened-shark-species-%E2%80%98out-sight-out-mind%E2%80%99-first-complete-national-assessment-australia%E2%80%99s#overlay-context=theme/theme-threatened-and-migratory-species">research</a> I led examined the national status of Australian sharks.</p> <p>The news is a lot brighter than the global situation. Of all sharks occurring in Australian waters, 70% were assessed as “Least Concern”.</p> <p>But we identified 39 Australian shark species threatened with extinction. And worryingly, most lack the protection or conservation plans needed for their populations to recover.</p> <p>For example, only nine of the species are listed as threatened under Australia’s federal environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.</p> <p>We identified five species where the data is robust enough to pass the threatened species nomination process, and recommend federal authorities consider these species for immediate listing. They consist of:</p> <ul> <li>greeneye spurdog</li> <li>eastern angelshark</li> <li>whitefin swellshark</li> <li>narrow sawfish</li> <li>Australian longnose skate.</li> </ul> <p>However, this still leaves a group of under-studied threatened species at risk of slipping through the cracks, because not enough data exists to support official listing nominations. We identified 12 species facing this predicament.</p> <p>For example, we assessed three species of small rays from southeast Australia, known as <a href="https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/family/334">stingarees</a>, as vulnerable to extinction due to commercial fishing. The species’ decline has been recorded since the <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/mf/MF99174">late 1990s</a>. However, nominations to be listed as threatened under federal law will require more data, particularly contemporary catch levels and trends.</p> <p>As with many other species we identified, there is currently no mechanism – or dedicated funding – in place to ensure such data is collected.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436576/original/file-20211209-27-1bianty.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A small shark" /> <span class="caption">Colclough’s Shark, a rare threatened shark at risk of falling through the cracks.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Nigel Marsh</span></span></p> <h2>How to save Australian sharks</h2> <p>Major investment is needed to recover Australia’s threatened sharks. Using the <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12682?af=R">mean estimated cost</a> of recovering a threatened fish species and accounting for <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/calculator/">inflation</a>, I calculate the cost at about A$114 million each year.</p> <p>The figure represents about 0.3% of the national defence budget – a benchmark against which the costs of environmental action are often <a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-could-green-its-degraded-landscapes-for-just-6-of-what-we-spend-on-defence-168807">compared</a>.</p> <p>More broadly, financial investment in threatened species in Australia has been shown to be <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/conl.12682?af=R">inadequate</a>.</p> <p>Recent federal funding announcements include <a href="https://www.pm.gov.au/media/australia-announces-100-million-initiative-protect-our-oceans">A$100 million</a> to protect oceans and $57 million linked to the national <a href="https://minister.awe.gov.au/ley/media-releases/national-strategy-protect-threatened-species">threatened species strategy</a>. This comes nowhere near the level of investment required.</p> <p>Australia urgently needs a dedicated, adequately resourced fund with the aim of recovering and delisting threatened species. Such a fund should support the recovery planning process – in contrast to current federal government moves to scrap recovery plans for nearly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/18/coalition-plans-to-scrap-recovery-plans-for-200-endangered-species-and-habitats">200 threatened species</a>.</p> <p>Our research is a call to action to secure all Australia’s sharks. It provides a benchmark from which changes can be measured, and hopefully will help guide management to prevent extinctions.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/161352/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-kyne-118871">Peter Kyne</a>, Senior Research Fellow in conservation biology, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-darwin-university-1066">Charles Darwin University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-real-reason-to-worry-about-sharks-in-australian-waters-this-summer-1-in-8-are-endangered-161352">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Andrew Fox</em></p>

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We are professional fire watchers, and we’re astounded by the scale of fires in remote Australia right now

<p>While southern Australia experienced a wet winter and a soggy spring, northern Australia has seen the opposite. Extreme fire weather in October and November led to bushfires across <a href="https://firenorth.org.au/">120,000 square kilometres</a> of southern savanna regions.</p> <p>Significant fires continue to burn in the Kimberley, the Top End, Cape York and the northern deserts. And while recent rain across the central deserts has reduced the current fire risk, it will significantly increase fuel loads which creates the potential for large wildfires in summer.</p> <p>We are professional fire watchers. The lead author of this article, Rohan Fisher, <a href="https://firenorth.org.au/">maps and monitors</a> fires across the tropical savannas and rangelands that comprise 70% of the Australian continent. The scale of burning we’re now seeing astounds us – almost as much as the lack of interest they generate.</p> <p>This continent’s fire ecology is poorly understood by most Australians, despite recent significant bushfire events close to big cities. But as we enter the Pyrocene age under worsening climate change, good fire knowledge is vitally important.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435758/original/file-20211206-15-1szo1gh.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Indigenous man and child walk on burnt landscape" /> <span class="caption">On the Mitchell Plateau in Western Australia, a Kandiwal man and his child walk through country burnt by traditional fires. Such ancient methods must be expanded to help Australia survive the Pyrocene.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Philip Schubert/Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>In the desert, fire and water are linked</h2> <p>Fires in arid Australia are extensive, largely unmanaged, often destructive and significantly under-reported. Improving their management involvement is crucial to both Traditional Owners and the ecological health of our continent.</p> <p>To improve pyro-literacy, we developed a <a href="https://savannafiremapping.com/nafi-mobile-app/">mobile app</a> to map fires across most of Australia in real-time.</p> <p>This year, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-30/extreme-heatwave-to-hit-kimberley-and-the-pilbara/100658568">Western Australia</a> and the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-19/nt-heatwave-conditions-peak-record-temperatures-bom/100549312">Northern Territory</a> experienced serious heatwaves late in the year and a late start to the wet season. This provided the perfect bushfire conditions.</p> <p>In contrast, central Australia has experienced rare flooding rains, including at Alice Springs which recorded the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-13/alice-springs-wettest-november-on-record/100616212">wettest November</a> on record. This creates dangerous fuel loads heading into summer.</p> <p>In the desert, water and fire is coupled in both space and time. Fire burns where water flows, because that’s where fuel – in the form of vegetation – is heaviest.</p> <p>The below satellite image from the Pilbara illustrates this point. It shows the path of an arid-zone fire flowing like water along dry creeks and drainage lines.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434382/original/file-20211129-15-q3vm4s.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Arid-zone fire travelling along dry creeks and drainage lines.</span></p> <p>Where country is not managed for fire, it can lead to catastrophic outcomes.</p> <p>The incidence of previous fire also influences fire spread. Without the regular application of fire, large tracts of desert can accumulate heavy fuel loads, primed for ignition.</p> <p>Over a few months in 2011, our data show more than 400,000 square kilometres in central Australia burned – almost twice the size of Victoria. It was one of the <a href="https://austrangesoc.com.au/range-management-newsletter-12-2/#article_166">largest</a> single fire events in recent Australian history and coincided with the wet La Nina period in 2010-12.</p> <p>Watching from satellites in space, we mapped the spread of the fires in near-real time, as this video shows:</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yJJPm0cUTJ4?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">A hot spot animation of the 2011 fire season in central Australia.</span></p> <h2>Fire management through time</h2> <p>For many thousands of years, Australia’s Indigenous people have skilfully burned landscapes to manage country. <a href="https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/fire/fire-and-the-environment/41-traditional-aboriginal-burning">Most fires</a> are relatively low-intensity or “cool” and do not burn large areas. This results in a <a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196">fine-scale mosaic</a> of different vegetation types and fuel ages, reducing the chance of large fires.</p> <p>Researchers have <a href="https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20063159465">looked back in time</a> to provide insight into fire management as it once was. This was done using aerial photography taken in the 1940s and 1950s in preparation for missile testing at Woomera in South Australia.</p> <p>The below aerial photo from 1953 reveals a complex mosaic of burn patterns and burn ages – a result of fine-scale land management by Traditional Owners.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434607/original/file-20211130-18-1x8y4pf.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">A 1953 aerial photo of the Western Desert showing a complex fine scale fire mosaic resulting from Indigenous burning​.</span></p> <p>But following the displacement of Indigenous people and the decline of traditional burning practices, fire regimes changed dramatically. The average fire size today is many orders of magnitude <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Andrew-Burbidge/publication/284776990_Evidence_of_altered_fire_regimes_in_the_Western_Desert_regime_of_Australia/links/565bca3508aeafc2aac62299/Evidence-of-altered-fire-regimes-in-the-Western-Desert-regime-of-Australia.pdf">greater</a> than those set under Aboriginal management.</p> <p>The change has been <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/wr/wr05032">implicated</a> in the decline and extinction of some mammals and plant species. One massive and fast-moving October fire in the Tanami desert – home to endangered bilbies – burned nearly 7,000 square kilometres over a few days, our data show.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434379/original/file-20211129-25-ilvsxy.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">The massive and fast-moving Tanami desert fire burnt nearly 7,000 km2 over a few days.</span></p> <h2>Back to desert burning</h2> <p>Like everywhere on this continent, fire in our vast deserts must be well-managed. Getting people back on desert country to reintroduce complex fire mosaics is difficult work but will have <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/wf/wf20057">significant</a> benefits for both nature and Indigenous people.</p> <p>Challenges include building capacity amongst ranger groups and communities, overcoming legal and insurance hurdles and employing novel techniques to apply “cool” fires at a near-continental scale.</p> <p>The role of Indigenous ranger groups is critical here. Organisations such as <a href="https://10deserts.org/">10 Deserts</a> – a partnership between Indigenous and conservation organisations – are supporting desert fire work.</p> <p><a href="https://10deserts.org/committee/peter_murray/">Peter Murray</a> is chair of the 10 Deserts project and a Ngurrara Traditional Owner from the Great Sandy Desert. On the importance of this work, he says:</p> <blockquote> <p>Right now, we’re working on Indigenous “right way” cultural burning as a means of preventing wildfires. We’re developing dedicated male and female ranger teams to look after the land and develop tourism. And we’re encouraging traditional owners to return to the desert to share and exchange knowledge as well as collecting and storing that knowledge to pass onto younger generations.</p> </blockquote> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434611/original/file-20211130-27-1i2yotw.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Indigenous man burning country" /> <span class="caption">Indigenous rangers are crucial when caring for fire-prone landscapes.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa/Gareth Catt</span></span></p> <h2>Living in the Pyrocene</h2> <p>As climate change worsens, we’re now living in a global fire age dubbed <a href="https://www.stephenpyne.com/disc.htm">the Pyrocene</a>. This will bring challenges across the Australian continent.</p> <p>Throughout remote Australia, increasing extreme fire weather will see more severe bushfires. Good fire management in these landscapes is urgently needed. In the northern tropical savannas, Indigenous-led fire management at the landscape scale is already <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-worlds-best-fire-management-system-is-in-northern-australia-and-its-led-by-indigenous-land-managers-133071">producing</a> some of the worlds best fire management outcomes.</p> <p>The challenge is to introduce similar scales of fire management across our vast deserts. These regions are rich with nature and culture, and they deserve far more attention than they’ve received to date. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172773/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rohan-fisher-976329">Rohan Fisher</a>, Information Technology for Development Researcher, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-darwin-university-1066">Charles Darwin University</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neil-burrows-1295249">Neil Burrows</a>, Adjunct professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-are-professional-fire-watchers-and-were-astounded-by-the-scale-of-fires-in-remote-australia-right-now-172773">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Instead of putting more massive trucks on our roads, we need to invest in our rail network

<p>In recent years, the <a href="https://transport.vic.gov.au/ports-and-freight/freight-victoria">Victoria</a> and <a href="https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/strategy/nsw-freight-and-ports-plan">New South Wales</a> governments have both unveiled strategies to move more freight across the country by rail and ease the increasing pressure of goods moving through the two largest container ports.</p> <p>The reality is, however, the numbers of containers coming and going by rail to the Port of Melbourne and Sydney’s Port Botany have been going backwards.</p> <h2>More massive trucks on Victoria’s highways</h2> <p>The Port of Melbourne moves more containers than any other port in Australia. In 2020-21, <a href="https://www.portofmelbourne.com/about-us/trade-statistics/quarterly-trade-reports/">3.3 million</a> containers passed through the port, a <a href="https://www.portofmelbourne.com/about-us/trade-statistics/historical-trade-data/">30% increase from ten years ago</a>.</p> <p>Over this time, the percentage of containers moving by rail has fallen, reaching a <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Container%20stevedoring%20monitoring%20report%202020-21.pdf">low of 6.1% in 2020-21</a>. This has meant the number of trucks going to and from the Port of Melbourne has significantly increased.</p> <p>This has been assisted by improvements to the state’s roads and bridges. But the Victoria government also in mid-2021 <a href="https://transport.vic.gov.au/about/transport-news/news-archive/guiding-road-freight">approved</a> large “A Double” trucks being able to access the Port of Melbourne. These trucks can carry two 12-metre containers and be up to 36 metres long – much longer than the standard semitrailer at 19 metres.</p> <p>Large numbers of trucks accessing the ports not only add to road construction and maintenance bills, they also make our roads less safe and more congested, and add to noise and air pollution.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/994-epc-lc/inquiry-into-air-pollution">recently released report</a> into the health effects of air pollution in Victoria notes the city of Maribyrnong has some of Australia’s highest levels of diesel pollution. This is mostly due to the number of trucks accessing the Port of Melbourne each day.</p> <p>The report also notes the transport sector is accountable for <a href="https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCEP/Air_Pollution/Report/LCEPC_59-04_Health_impacts_air_pollution_Vic_Report.pdf">20% of Victoria’s total greenhouse gas emissions</a>.</p> <p>In 2018, Victoria introduced a new <a href="https://transport.vic.gov.au/getting-around/roads/heavy-vehicles">freight plan</a> that included initiatives to move more goods from the port by rail. One of these projects was the Port Rail Shuttle Network, a $28 million investment to connect the freight terminal in South Dandenong to the rail network. This is now underway.</p> <p>Increasing the amount of freight moving by rail will not only make our roads safer and reduce maintenance costs, it makes environmental sense – <a href="https://www.railfutures.org.au/2017/07/submission-to-inquiry-into-national-freight-and-supply-chain-priorities">rail freight produces one-third the emissions of road freight</a>.</p> <p>However, rail freight in Victoria is crippled by two different track gauges and tracks with too many temporary and permanent speed restrictions. Without greater investment to improve the rail system, it remains a less feasible option than moving freight on massive trucks on our roads.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437972/original/file-20211216-19-ljbvpc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">A freight train passing through a level crossing in Cootamundra, NSW.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>Sydney’s situation is not much better</h2> <p>A recent NSW <a href="https://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/our-work/reports/rail-freight-and-greater-sydney">auditor-general report</a> said the volume of freight passing through Greater Sydney is expected to increase by 48% by 2036.</p> <p>In 2020-21, <a href="https://www.nswports.com.au/nsw-ports-ceo-update-july-2021">2.7 million containers</a> moved through Port Botany. The NSW government had planned to increase the number of containers moving by rail from the port to <a href="https://www.nswports.com.au/resources-filtered/trade-reports">28% by 2021</a>. However, the auditor-general report said this effort would fall short. Just 16% is currently carried by rail.</p> <p>This means more trucks on the roads in NSW, as well. The NSW government has also recently <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/congestion-compounded-as-more-trucks-added-to-sydney-roads-20201101-p56aix.html">given permission</a> for “A Double” trucks to access Port Botany.</p> <p>The auditor-general report made recommendations on how NSW Transport could improve the operation of the state’s rail network to allow for more rail freight. It noted, for example, 54 trucks could be replaced by one 600-metre-long port shuttle freight train.</p> <h2>Rail moving less intercity freight</h2> <p>The rail network between Australia’s two largest cities is outdated and under-utilised. In fact, the proportion of freight moving between Melbourne and Sydney on rail has <a href="https://pacificnational.com.au/australias-major-highway-now-a-conveyor-belt-for-big-trucks/">fallen to about 1% today</a>. In 1970, it was <a href="https://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2000/is_017">about 40%</a>.</p> <p>This is, in part, due to the total <a href="https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/about/environment/protecting-heritage/hume-highway-duplication/index.html">reconstruction</a> of the Hume Highway from a basic two-lane road to a modern dual carriageway, completed in 2013. There are now over <a href="https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/about/corporate-publications/statistics/traffic-volumes/aadt-map/index.html#/?z=6&amp;id=GNDSTC&amp;hv=1">20 million tonnes of freight</a> moved each year on the Hume Highway, with over 3,800 trucks on the road each day (and night at Gundagai).</p> <p>The result is more road trauma, higher maintenance bills and pressure for further road upgrades. Plus more emissions.</p> <p>The Sydney-Melbourne rail track, meanwhile, has been left with severe speed weight restrictions and a “steam age” alignment characterised by tight curves. It is also over 60 kms longer than it needs to be.</p> <h2>From a national perspective</h2> <p>Getting more freight on rail is not helped by hidden government subsidies to heavy truck operations, which in my estimations exceed <a href="https://theconversation.com/distance-based-road-charges-will-improve-traffic-and-if-done-right-wont-slow-australias-switch-to-electric-cars-150290">$2 billion per year</a>.</p> <p>It is also made harder by the current <a href="https://www.freightaustralia.gov.au/">National Freight and Supply Chain strategy</a>, which puts much more emphasis on increasing truck productivity with ever larger trucks.</p> <p>Instead, much more attention is needed to improving the efficiency and competitiveness of rail freight.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172491/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/philip-laird-3503">Philip Laird</a>, Honorary Principal Fellow, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/instead-of-putting-more-massive-trucks-on-our-roads-we-need-to-invest-in-our-rail-network-172491">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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1 millipede, 1,306 legs: we just discovered the world’s leggiest animal hiding in Western Australia

<p>Millipedes were the first land animals, and today we know of more than 13,000 species. There are likely thousands more species of the many-legged invertebrates awaiting discovery and formal scientific description.</p> <p>The name “millipede” comes from the Latin for “thousand feet”, but until now no known species had more than 750 legs. However, my colleagues and I recently found <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-02447-0">a new champion</a>.</p> <p>The eyeless, subterranean <em>Eumillipes persephone</em>, discovered 60 metres underground near the south coast of Western Australia, has up to 1,306 legs, making it the first “true millipede” and the leggiest animal on Earth.</p> <h2>Finding life underground</h2> <p>In Australia, most species in some groups of invertebrates are still undescribed. Many could even become extinct before we know about them.</p> <p>Part of the reason is that life is everywhere, even where we least expect it. You could be excused for thinking remote areas of Western Australia such as the Pilbara and the Goldfields, where the land is arid and harsh, are not home to too many species.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437949/original/file-20211216-15-11fkzif.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">The arid landscapes of Western Australia harbour a surprising diversity of life.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>But the reality is very different. An enormously diverse array of poorly known animals live underground, inhabiting cavities and fractures in the rock several metres below the surface.</p> <p>One way to find out about these creatures is to place “troglofauna traps” far below the surface. <em>E. persephone</em> was found in one of these traps, which had spent two months 60m underground in a mining exploration bore in the Goldfields.</p> <h2>A lucky discovery</h2> <p>At the time I was working for a company called Bennelongia Environmental Consultants, which had been hired by the mining company to survey the animals in the area. I was lucky enough to be in the laboratory on the day the leggiest animal on Earth was first seen.</p> <p>Our senior taxonomist, Jane McRae, showed me these incredibly elongated millipedes, less than a millimetre wide and almost 10 centimetres long. She pointed out how their triangular faces placed them in the family Siphonotidae, comprised of sucking millipedes from the order Polyzoniida.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437938/original/file-20211216-21-3yvudt.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437938/original/file-20211216-21-3yvudt.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A female <em>Eumillipes persephone</em> with 330 segments and 1,306 legs.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Their long, thin and pale bodies, with hundreds of legs, reminded me of a paper I had read years earlier, which redescribed the leggiest millipede in the world, the Californian <em>Illacme plenipes</em>, bearing 750 legs. Back in 2007, while teaching zoology at Campinas State University in Brazil, I used that paper to explain to students how no millipede species in the world really had 1,000 legs.</p> <p>Often, popular names are scientifically inaccurate, but in front of me I had an animal that stood a chance of finally making the name millipede biologically correct.</p> <h2>A true millipede at last</h2> <p>I suggested to Jane that our new specimens might be more consistent with <em>I. plenipes</em>, which belongs to another order of millipedes, the Siphonophorida. We consulted Mark Harvey from the WA Museum, and together were surprised to realise Siphonophorida are very rare in Australia: there are only three known species, all found on the east coast.</p> <p>Next, I contacted Paul Marek at Virginia Tech in the United States, a millipede expert and lead author of that paper about the 750-legged <em>I. plenipes</em>. He was excited to receive the specimens a few weeks later.</p> <p>This new species turned out to have up to 1,306 legs, making it the first true millipede. Paul named it <em>Eumillipes persephone</em>, in reference to its “true 1,000 legs” nature, and to Persephone, the goddess of the underworld in Greek mythology who was taken from the surface by Hades.</p> <h2>Why so many legs?</h2> <p><em>E. persephone</em> was most likely driven to its underground life as the landscape above became hotter and drier over millions of years. We eventually discovered Jane was right about the nature of <em>E. persephone</em>: it is in fact a member of the Siphonotidae family, only distantly related to <em>I. plenipes</em>, and is therefore the only species in the whole order Polyzoniida with no eyes.</p> <p>We classify any millipede with more than 180 body segments as “super-elongated”. <em>E. persephone</em> has 330.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437943/original/file-20211216-15-zklige.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437943/original/file-20211216-15-zklige.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Just a few of the legs of a male <em>Eumillipes persephone</em>.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Paul E. Marek, Bruno A. Buzatto, William A. Shear, Jackson C. Means, Dennis G. Black, Mark S. Harvey, Juanita Rodriguez, Scientific Reports</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>With a genetic analysis, we found that super-elongation has evolved repeatedly in millipedes, and it might be an adaptation to living underground.</p> <p>The large number of legs likely provides enhanced traction and power to push their bodies through small gaps and fractures in the soil. But this is just a hypothesis at this stage, and we have no direct evidence that having more legs is an adaptation to subterranean life.</p> <h2>Finding the unknown</h2> <p>Finding this incredible species, which represents a unique branch of the millipede tree of life, is a small first step towards the conservation of subterranean biodiversity in arid landscapes.</p> <p>This starts with documenting new species, assessing their vulnerability, and ultimately devising conservation priorities and management plans.</p> <p>A large proportion of the species of arid Australia are undescribed. For subterranean fauna, this may be more than 90%. Not knowing these animals exist makes it impossible to assess their conservation status.</p> <p>Biodiversity surveys, and especially the taxonomy that supports them, are incredibly important. Taxonomists such as Jane, Paul and Mark are the unsung heroes of conservation.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/173753/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bruno-alves-buzatto-185830">Bruno Alves Buzatto</a>, Principal Biologist at Bennelongia Environmental Consultants, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/1-millipede-1-306-legs-we-just-discovered-the-worlds-leggiest-animal-hiding-in-western-australia-173753">original article</a>.</p>

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Blue-sky thinking: net-zero aviation is more than a flight of fantasy

<p>As international air travel rebounds after COVID-19 restrictions, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are expected to rise dramatically – and with it, scrutiny of the industry’s environmental credentials.</p> <p>Aviation emissions have almost <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/2253626-aviations-contribution-to-global-warming-has-doubled-since-2000/">doubled since 2000</a> and in 2018 reached <a href="https://ourworldindata.org/co2-emissions-from-aviation">one billion tonnes</a>. Climate Action Tracker rates the industry’s climate performance as <a href="https://climateactiontracker.org/sectors/aviation/">critically insufficient</a>.</p> <p>As the climate change threat rapidly worsens, can aviation make the transition to a low-carbon future – and perhaps even reach net-zero emissions? The significant technological and energy disruption on the horizon for the industry suggests such a future is possible.</p> <p>But significant challenges remain. Achieving a net-zero aviation sector will require a huge collaborative effort from industry and government – and consumers can also play their part.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nW6J989UBhA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <h2>Build back better</h2> <p>The aviation sector’s progress in cutting emissions has been disappointing to date. For example, in February last year, <a href="https://theconversation.com/major-airlines-say-theyre-acting-on-climate-change-our-research-reveals-how-little-theyve-achieved-127800">research</a> on the world’s largest 58 airlines found even the best-performing ones were not doing anywhere near enough to cut emissions.</p> <p>Most recently, at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, the industry merely reasserted a commitment to a plan known as the <a href="https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/default.aspx">Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation</a>.</p> <p>The scheme relies on carbon offsetting, which essentially pays another actor to reduce emissions on its behalf at lowest cost, and doesn’t lead to absolute emissions reduction in aviation. The scheme also encourages alternative cleaner fuels, but the level of emissions reduction between fuels varies considerably.</p> <p>Governments have generally failed to provide strong leadership to help the aviation sector to reduce emissions. This in part is because pollution from international aviation is not counted in the emissions ledger of any country, leaving little incentive for governments to act. Aviation is also a complex policy space to navigate, involving multiple actors around the world. However, COVID-19 has significantly jolted the aviation and travel sector, presenting an opportunity to build back better – and differently.</p> <p>Griffith University recently held a <a href="https://www.griffith.edu.au/institute-tourism/our-research/rethinking-aviation/aviation-reimagined-2021?fbclid=IwAR3Hd8xLJkEWMaHae8sho1MiSfV6TzbPbf30vo2fbJ0CHMg-xdvywNCmZbU">webinar series</a> on decarbonising aviation, involving industry, academic and government experts. The sessions explored the most promising policy and practical developments for net-zero aviation, as well as the most significant hurdles.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437570/original/file-20211214-25-1rc1cnc.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="passengers queue at airport" /> <span class="caption">COVID-19 has significantly jolted the aviation sector.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Steven Senne/AP</span></span></p> <h2>Nations soaring ahead</h2> <p>Some governments are leading the way in driving change in the aviation industry. For example, as a result of <a href="https://www.government.se/495f60/contentassets/883ae8e123bc4e42aa8d59296ebe0478/the-swedish-climate-policy-framework.pdf">government policy</a> to make Sweden climate-neutral by 2045, the Swedish aviation industry developed a <a href="https://fossilfrittsverige.se/en/roadmap/the-aviation-industry/#:%7E:text=The%20strategic%20objective%20for%202030,line%20with%20the%20Government%27s%20goals">roadmap</a> for fossil-free domestic flights by 2030, and for all flights originating from Sweden to be fossil-free by 2045.</p> <p>Achieving fossil-free flights requires replacing jet fuel with alternatives such as sustainable fuels or electric and hydrogen propulsion.</p> <p>The European Union plans to <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_21_3662">end current tax exemptions</a> for jet fuel and introduce measures to <a href="https://www.eurocontrol.int/article/eus-fit-55-package-what-does-it-mean-aviation">accelerate</a> the uptake of sustainable fuels.</p> <p>The United Kingdom is finalising its strategy for <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/achieving-net-zero-aviation-by-2050">net-zero aviation</a> by 2050 and a public body known as UK Research and Innovation is <a href="https://www.ukri.org/our-work/our-main-funds/industrial-strategy-challenge-fund/future-of-mobility/future-flight-challenge/">supporting</a> the development of new aviation technologies, including hybrid-electric regional aircraft.</p> <p>Australia lacks a strategic framework or emissions reduction targets to help transition the aviation industry. The <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure-transport-vehicles/aviation/emerging-aviation-technologies/drones/eatp">Emerging Aviation Technology Program</a> seeks to reduce carbon emissions, among other goals. However, it appears to have a strong focus on freight-carrying drones and <a href="https://www.greenbiz.com/article/7-urban-air-mobility-companies-watch">urban air vehicles</a>, rather than fixed wing aircraft.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437569/original/file-20211214-13-lsswi6.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="plane taking off" /> <span class="caption">Some governments are leading the way in driving change in the aviation industry.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Zhao Xiaojun/AP</span></span></p> <h2>Building tomorrow’s aircraft</h2> <p>Low-emissions aircraft technology has developed substantially in the last five years. Advancements include electric and hybrid aircraft (powered by hydrogen or a battery) – such as that being developed by <a href="https://www.airbus.com/en/innovation/zero-emission/hydrogen/zeroe">Airbus</a>, <a href="https://www.rolls-royce.com/innovation/accel.aspx">Rolls Royce</a> and <a href="https://www.zeroavia.com/">Zero Avia</a> – as well as <a href="https://boeing.mediaroom.com/2021-07-14-Boeing-and-SkyNRG-Partner-to-Scale-Sustainable-Aviation-Fuels-Globally">sustainable aviation fuels</a>.</p> <p>Each of these technologies can reduce carbon emissions, but only battery and hydrogen electric options significantly reduce non-CO₂ climate impacts such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx), soot particles, oxidised sulphur species, and water vapour.</p> <p>For electric aircraft to be net-zero emissions, they must be powered by renewable energy sources. As well as being better for the planet, electric and hydrogen aircraft are likely to have <a href="https://www.zeroavia.com/">lower</a> energy and maintenance <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/electric-aviation-could-be-closer-than-you-think/">costs</a> than conventional aircraft.</p> <p>This decade, we expect a rapid emergence of electric and hybrid aircraft for short-haul, commuter, air taxi, helicopter and general flights. Increased use of sustainable aviation fuel is also likely.</p> <p>Although electric planes are flying, commercial operations are not expected until at least 2023 as the aircraft must undergo rigorous testing, safety and certification.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437571/original/file-20211214-23-1clsep1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A solar powered aircraft prototype flies in mountainous terrain" /> <span class="caption">Electric planes exist, but the route to commercialisation is long. Pictured: a solar powered aircraft prototype flies near the France-Italy border.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Laurent Gillieron/EPA</span></span></p> <h2>Overcoming turbulence</h2> <p>Despite real efforts by some industry leaders and governments towards making aviation a net-zero industry, significant strategic and practical challenges remain. Conversion to the commercial mainstream is not happening quickly enough.</p> <p>To help decarbonise aviation in Australia, industry and government should develop a clear strategy for emissions reduction with interim targets for 2030 and 2040. This would keep the industry competitive and on track for net-zero emissions by 2050.</p> <p>Strategic attention and action is also needed to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>advance aircraft and fuel innovation and development</p> </li> <li> <p>update regulatory and certification processes for new types of aircraft</p> </li> <li> <p>enhance production and deployment of new aviation fuels and technologies</p> </li> <li> <p>reduce fuel demand through efficiencies in route and air traffic management</p> </li> <li> <p>create “greener” airport operations and infrastructure</p> </li> <li> <p>build capability with pilots and aerospace engineers.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The emissions created by flights and itineraries can <a href="https://theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/variation-aviation-emissions-itinerary-jul2021-1.pdf">vary substantially</a>. Consumers can do their part by opting for the lowest-impact option, and offsetting the emissions their flight creates via a <a href="https://theconversation.com/flying-home-for-christmas-carbon-offsets-are-important-but-they-wont-fix-plane-pollution-89148">credible program</a>. Consumers can also choose to fly only with airlines and operators that have committed to net-zero emissions.</p> <p>Net-zero aviation need not remain a flight of fantasy, but to make it a reality, emissions reduction must be at the heart of aviation’s pandemic bounce-back.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/171940/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-rachel-whittlesea-1280917">Emma Rachel Whittlesea</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tim-ryley-1253269">Tim Ryley</a>, Professor and Head of Griffith Aviation, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/blue-sky-thinking-net-zero-aviation-is-more-than-a-flight-of-fantasy-171940">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Back so soon, La Niña? Here’s why we’re copping two soggy summers in a row

<p>Last month was Australia’s <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/australia-weather-australia-records-wettest-november-in-122-years-more-rain-to-come-in-summer/4f2d7ce6-5547-4949-b947-b9aaf51e4271">wettest November</a> on record, and summer in Queensland and parts of New South Wales is also expected to be soggy for the second consecutive year. So why is our summer parade being rained on yet again?</p> <p>Weather systems bring rain all the time. And from November to March, the monsoon occurs in northern Australia which adds to the wet conditions.</p> <p>But this year, three climate phenomena also converged to drive the Big Wet over Australia’s eastern seaboard: a negative Indian Ocean Dipole, a positive Southern Annular Mode, and a La Niña.</p> <p>So will this summer be the wettest and wildest on record for Australia’s southeast? It’s too early to say, but the prospect can’t be discounted.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437370/original/file-20211213-25284-165mf1c.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="man in front of flood waters and flood warning sign" /> <span class="caption">Three climate phenomena have converged to bring the current wet conditions.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Stuart Walmsley/AAP</span></span></p> <h2>La Niña: the sequel</h2> <p>You’ve probably heard about the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/">La Niña</a> that’s emerged in the Pacific Ocean for the second year in a row. This event often brings overcast conditions, above-average rainfall and cooler temperatures.</p> <p>A La Niña occurs when the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become cooler than normal, due to an interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean.</p> <p>During La Niña, atmospheric pressure increases in the east of the Pacific and lowers in the west. This pressure difference causes trade winds to strengthen. The Pacific waters north of Australia become warmer than normal, as the central and eastern Pacific cools.</p> <p>The warm ocean around Australia increases moisture in the atmosphere and enhances the chance of rainfall for the northern and eastern parts of the country. It also increases the likelihood of tropical cyclones.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437382/original/file-20211213-25-9bnwpl.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437382/original/file-20211213-25-9bnwpl.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A schematic showing interactions between the atmosphere and ocean that produce a La Niña.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Bureau of Meteorology.</span></span></p> <p>La Niña and its opposite drying phenomenon, <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a008-el-nino-and-australia.shtml">El Niño</a>, are together known as the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO). When each occur, they generally develop during winter and spring, mature in early summer and finish by autumn.</p> <p>We saw that autumn finish in March this year, when the tail end of the last La Niña brought extreme rain and floods to the NSW coast and other regions.</p> <p>So why are we seeing it back so soon? It’s actually not uncommon for La Niña to occur in two consecutive years. In fact, since 1958, about half of La Niña events reoccurred the following year, as the below graph shows.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437383/original/file-20211213-19-uxzzbt.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437383/original/file-20211213-19-uxzzbt.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Graph showing La Niña events since 1950.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Authors provided. Data at https://origin.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ONI_v5.php</span></span></p> <p>These repeat events are far more common for La Niña than El Niño. That’s because after an El Niño, strong air-sea interactions cause the equatorial waters of the Pacific to rapidly lose heat. These interactions are weaker during La Niña, meaning the Pacific sometimes retains cool water which enables a second La Niña to occur.</p> <p>We saw this in the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/history/ln-2010-12/">consecutive</a> La Niña events of 2010-11 and 2011-12. The first of these was an extreme La Niña, bringing heavy rain and the devastating Brisbane floods.</p> <h2>La Niña is not acting alone</h2> <p>La Niña is not the only phenomenon driving the wet conditions. This year, after the wet autumn in NSW, an event known as a negative “Indian Ocean Dipole” (<a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/history/ln-2010-12/IOD-what.shtml">IOD</a>) developed.</p> <p>An active negative IOD tends to change wind patterns and rainfall conditions over Australia’s southeast during spring, setting the scene for more wet conditions in summer.</p> <p>Adding to this, the Southern Annular Mode (<a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/sam/">SAM</a>) has been in its positive phase for a few months. The SAM refers to the position of westerly winds in the mid-latitudes of the southern hemisphere.</p> <p>When the SAM is in a positive phase, mid-latitude storms move poleward, away from Australia, as onshore winds to eastern Australia enhance. This increases moisture and rain to the continent’s southeast.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/437375/original/file-20211213-31407-1tphns9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="cars and pedestrian traverse wet road" /> <span class="caption">The negative phase of an IOD typically brings wet weather from Western Australia to southeast Australia.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Dean Lewis/AAP</span></span></p> <h2>What about next year?</h2> <p>The Bureau of Meteorology’s <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/rainfall/median/seasonal/0">seasonal outlook</a> shows an increased chance of rain this summer (January to March) over parts of Queensland and the NSW coast, but not much for the rest of Australia.</p> <p>So while it’s unlikely to be the wettest ever summer in Australia overall, we can’t yet rule that out for the east coast. Safe to say, the climate conditions are ripe for extreme wet weather over the next few months.</p> <p>But rest assured that a third consecutive La Niña, while possible next year, is unlikely. Since 1950, three consecutive La Niñas have occurred only twice: in 1973-75 and 1998-2000. These were preceded by extreme El Niño events, which tend to induce La Niña events.</p> <p>And while the rain might disrupt your summer plans, it’s worth remembering that just three years ago southeast Australia was in the midst of severe drought. The successive La Niñas have brought water and soil moisture back to the Murray Darling Basin – and in that sense that’s a very good thing. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/173684/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrea-s-taschetto-169429">Andréa S. Taschetto</a>, Associate Professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/agus-santoso-123850">Agus Santoso</a>, Senior Research Associate, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/back-so-soon-la-nina-heres-why-were-copping-two-soggy-summers-in-a-row-173684">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Dan Himbrechts/AAP</em></p>

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Trees get sunburnt too – but there are easy ways to protect them, from tree ‘sunscreen’ to hydration

<p>We all know how hot and damaging the summer sun can be in Australia and most of us are only too willing to take sensible precautions, and slop on sunscreen.</p> <p>It’s not only humans that suffer from sunburn and its consequences. <a href="https://www.rspcasa.org.au/protect-white-pets-from-sunburn/">Some pets</a>, such as cats and dogs, can get sunburnt in some of their less furry places, and pig farmers have long known <a href="https://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/FSVD/swine/index-diseases/photosensitization">the damage</a> sun can do to their prized stock.</p> <p>But have you ever wondered about sun damage to plants? Can trees be sunburnt? It may surprise you to know the answer is actually yes!</p> <p>Tree sunburn tends to occur during hot spring days or in early summer, when trees are full of moisture. So let’s explore why it happens, and the easy ways you can protect your trees from damage.</p> <h2>Sun scorch on leaves</h2> <p>Many of you may be thinking of sun scorch, which occurs on the leaves of some of our favourite garden plants on a hot summer’s day: the brown, wilted hydrangea leaves or the large blotchy brown patches that appear on camellia leaves that weren’t there at the beginning of the day. This is sun <em>damage</em>, but is not the same as sunburn on trees.</p> <p>Leaf scorch can occur because leaves are exposed to high levels of solar radiation. The damage is often exacerbated by a low level of <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/evapotranspiration-and-water-cycle?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects">soil moisture</a>, which reduces the cooling effect of transpiration (when water evaporates from leaves).</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436565/original/file-20211209-149721-1jv9r93.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436565/original/file-20211209-149721-1jv9r93.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Sun damage on leaves is more likely to occur if the plant isn’t well hydrated.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>One popular and widely published cause of sun scorch on leaves is water droplets on the surface acting as a lens that focuses the sun’s rays and intensifies the heat – a bit like a magnifying glass. But this is a myth. There is <a href="http://allgreensod.ca/the-myth-of-hot-weather-watering/">little evidence</a> it occurs and considerable evidence that it doesn’t.</p> <p>So what does cause leaf scorch? Well, we’re not sure. However, it’s possible and <a href="https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.03161.x">perhaps likely</a> very high levels of radiation increase temperatures within some of the leaf cells. This damages the cells’ metabolic processes and limits the ability to photosynthesise in a process called “photoinhibition”. If enough cells are damaged, you can get general brown or dead leaf tissue.</p> <h2>Sunscald and sunburn</h2> <p>When dealing with trees, sunburn is also referred to as “sunscald” – which is unfortunate as there are two different processes at work, but even scientists often use the terms sunburn and sunscald interchangeably.</p> <p>In the northern hemisphere, sunscald usually occurs towards the end of winter, when a warm day is followed by a freezing night. The cells in the bark of the trunk or branches have become active during the warm day, and are then badly damaged as they rupture during the cold night.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436577/original/file-20211209-140109-1wjt10.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436577/original/file-20211209-140109-1wjt10.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A sunburnt tree trunk.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Damage can be extensive, or even fatal, for some young trees and is nearly always greatest on the south and <a href="http://pubs.cahnrs.wsu.edu/publications/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/publications/fs197e.pdf">southwest facing</a> tissue.</p> <p>Short term temperature differences in Australia aren’t usually as extreme, so this sort of sunscald rarely occurs here. However, we do come across sunburn in trees when the sun causes serious damage to the bark of the trunk or branches.</p> <p>If the damage is severe enough, sunburn kills the bark causing necrosis – the death of cells or tissue.</p> <p>It’s usually a problem for trees with smooth and thin bark, such as several fruit tree species (stone fruits like apricot, plum and peach), birches, plane trees and some eucalypts. Trees with thick, fibrous or rough bark, such as oaks, elms, conifers and thick, rough barked eucalypts are usually insulated and protected.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436597/original/file-20211209-27-rft1nr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436597/original/file-20211209-27-rft1nr.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A sunburnt plane tree.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Greg Moore</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>In Australia, sunburn nearly always occurs on trunks facing north or northwest, where exposure to the sun is hottest. Sunburn can <a href="http://pubs.cahnrs.wsu.edu/publications/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/publications/fs197e.pdf">also occur</a> on the upward facing side of branches of a tree directly exposed to the sun, and is common after pruning exposes previously shaded branches, such as on thin-barked street trees pruned for powerline clearance.</p> <h2>Why does it happen?</h2> <p>Sunburn tends to occur in <a href="https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/environmental/scorch.aspx">late spring and early summer</a>, when bark tissues are full of moisture and actively growing.</p> <p>Cells in the bark <a href="https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/environmental/scorch.aspx">are damaged or killed</a> by high levels of radiation and high temperatures. While high temperature can directly kill plant tissues, photoinhibition is another probable contributor.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436580/original/file-20211209-15-1bnxf66.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436580/original/file-20211209-15-1bnxf66.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Oak tree" /></a> <span class="caption">Trees like oak, with thick rough bark aren’t vulnerable to sunburn.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Sunburn damage may take time to manifest, but in smooth-barked trees, lesions may be over 1.5 metres in length, and over 100 millimetres wide. The tree tissue browns, dies, dries and splits, with the bark peeling back to expose the wood below. The wound can give access to <a href="https://joa.isa-arbor.com/article_detail.asp?JournalID=1&amp;VolumeID=44&amp;IssueID=1&amp;ArticleID=3436">pests and diseases</a>, and slow growth in young trees.</p> <p>Likewise, sunburn damage <a href="https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/flowers-shrubs-trees/heatwave-garden-how-identify-prevent-heat-stress-plants">to fruit</a> is common and often causes it to rot. In younger trees, it may <a href="https://fruittreelane.com.au/general/sunburn-damage-in-fruit-trees/">prove fatal</a>.</p> <h2>How to slip slop, slap for trees</h2> <p>The risk of both sunscald and sunburn has left an enduring legacy in Australia, as many post-war migrants to Australia from the Mediterranean region – particularly those from Italy and Greece – would routinely whitewash the base of their fruit trees.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436573/original/file-20211209-68670-lelh0s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/436573/original/file-20211209-68670-lelh0s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Fruit trees with painted trunks" /></a> <span class="caption">Whitewashing tree trunks and branches can help keep your tree feel and look cool.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Sunscald may not have been much of a problem in their new home, but the whitewash was, and remains, a protection against sunburn – a literal slip slop, slap for trees! The whitewash shields the bark from the sun, reflects radiation and keeps darker coloured bark cooler.</p> <p>Other ways of <a href="https://www.sgaonline.org.au/protecting-plants-in-hot-weather/">protecting trees</a> from sunburn include wrapping them in light coloured paper, cardboard or cloth, planting susceptible trees in shadier parts of the garden and, for some trees, retaining lower branches that will naturally shade the trunk.</p> <p>But one of the best ways to avoid tree sunburn is to make sure your trees are properly irrigated ahead of very hot days as transpiration, like sweating, keeps tissues cooler. And of course, <a href="https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/leaf-scorch-2-911/">a good mulch</a> around the base of the trees maximises efficient water use and keeps soils cooler.</p> <p>So while you protect yourself from the sun this summer, remember to take care of your trees, too, and keep them well hydrated.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172953/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gregory-moore-1779">Gregory Moore</a>, Doctor of Botany, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/trees-get-sunburnt-too-but-there-are-easy-ways-to-protect-them-from-tree-sunscreen-to-hydration-172953">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Why dingoes should be considered native to mainland Australia – even though humans introduced them

<p>Dingoes are <a href="https://academic.oup.com/cz/article-abstract/57/5/668/5004458">often demonised</a> as a danger to livestock, while many consider them a natural and essential part of the environment. But is our most controversial wild species actually native to Australia?</p> <p>Dingoes were brought to Australia by humans from Southeast Asia some 4,000 years ago. Technically, this means they are an introduced species, and an “alien” species by <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article-abstract/68/7/496/5050532">classic ecological definitions </a>. By contrast, most legal definitions consider dingoes native, because they were here before Europeans arrived.</p> <p>Though it sounds academic, the controversy has real consequences for this ancient dog lineage. In 2018, the Western Australian government declared dingoes <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-the-wa-government-is-wrong-to-play-identity-politics-with-dingoes-102344">were not native fauna</a> due to crossbreeding with domestic dogs. This potentially makes it easier to control their numbers.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://meridian.allenpress.com/australian-zoologist/article-abstract/41/3/358/472935/An-eco-evolutionary-rationale-to-distinguish-alien">new research paper</a>, I find dingoes do indeed fit the bill as an Australian native species, using three new criteria I propose. These criteria can help us answer questions over whether alien species can ever be considered native, and if so, over what time frame.</p> <h2>Why does alien or native status matter?</h2> <p>Humans have been moving animal species around for millennia. Thousands of years ago, neolithic settlers <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2907.1992.tb00129.x">moved rabbits</a> to Mediterranean islands, traders unwittingly took black rats from India to Europe and Indigenous Southeast Asian people took pigs to Papua New Guinea.</p> <p>The rate of species introductions has ramped up with the movement and spread of people, with many recent arrivals posing a major threat to biodiversity.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435486/original/file-20211203-25-eianud.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435486/original/file-20211203-25-eianud.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Pigs were introduced to Papua New Guinea by Indigenous people thousands of years ago. Does that make them native?</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Researchers often distinguish between alien and native using the year the species was introduced. There are obvious problems with this, given the dates used can be arbitrary and the fact perceptions of nativeness can be based on how much <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0309132507079499">humans like the species</a>, rather than its ecological impact. For example, there has been strong opposition to killing “friendly” hedgehogs in areas of Scotland where they are introduced, but less cute animals like American mink get no such consideration.</p> <p>For conservationists, alien status certainly matters. <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2006.0444">Alien species act differently</a> to native species in their new environments, which can give them an advantage over locals in terms of competition for food, predation and spreading new diseases. This can cause native population declines and extinctions.</p> <p>As a result, species considered alien in their ecosystems are often targets for control and eradication. But species considered native are usually protected even if they have extended their range significantly, like eastern water dragons or the Australian white ibis.</p> <p>Native status is, of course, a human construct. Past definitions of nativeness have not directly considered the ecological reasons for concern about alien species.</p> <p>This is what <a href="https://meridian.allenpress.com/australian-zoologist/article-abstract/41/3/358/472935/An-eco-evolutionary-rationale-to-distinguish-alien">my new research</a> seeks to address.</p> <h2>An ecological definition of nativeness</h2> <p>What I propose are three staged criteria to determine when an introduced species becomes native:</p> <ol> <li> <p>has the introduced species evolved in its new environment?</p> </li> <li> <p>do native species recognise and respond to the introduced species as they do other local species?</p> </li> <li> <p>are the interactions between introduced and established native species similar to interactions between native species (that is, their impacts on local species are not negative and exaggerated)?</p> </li> </ol> <p>For dingoes on mainland Australia, the answer is yes for all three criteria. We should consider them native.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435474/original/file-20211203-23-1o19jql.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435474/original/file-20211203-23-1o19jql.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Dingoes on mainland Australia meet the criteria for native status.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Peter Banks</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Firstly, dingoes are not the same dogs first brought here. Dingoes are now <a href="https://www.mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4564.1.6">quite different</a> to their close ancestors in Southeast Asia, in terms of behaviour, how they reproduce and how they look. These <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-14515-6">differences have a genetic basis</a>, suggesting they have evolved since their arrival in Australia. Their heads are now shaped differently, they breed less often and have better problem solving skills than other close dog relatives.</p> <p>Second, it is well established that native prey species on mainland Australia <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rspb.2018.0857">recognise and respond to dingoes</a> as dangerous predators – which they are.</p> <p>Finally, dingo impacts on prey species <a href="https://meridian.allenpress.com/australian-zoologist/article-abstract/41/3/338/447847/Introgression-does-not-influence-the-positive?redirectedFrom=fulltext">are not devastating</a> like those of alien predators such as feral cats and foxes. While hunting by dingoes does suppress prey numbers, they don’t keep them as low (and at greater risk of extinction) as do foxes and cats.</p> <p>Of course, dingo impacts were unlikely to have always been so benign. Dingoes are <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1191/0959683603hl682fa">linked to the extinction</a> of Tasmanian tigers (Thylacines), Tasmanian devils and the Tasmanian flightless hen, which disappeared from mainland Australia soon after the dingo arrived.</p> <p>In my paper, I argue such impacts no longer occur because of evolutionary change in both dingoes and their prey. We can see this in Tasmania, which dingoes never reached. There, prey species like bandicoots still show <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161447">naiveté towards dogs</a>. That means we should not consider dingoes to be native to Tasmania.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435484/original/file-20211203-23-101r65w.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435484/original/file-20211203-23-101r65w.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Native prey species on the mainland recognise and respond to dingoes.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>Alien today, native tomorrow?</h2> <p>This idea challenges the dogma alien species remain alien forever. This is an unsettling concept for ecologists dealing with the major and ongoing damage done by newer arrivals. <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article-abstract/62/3/217/358332">Some argue</a> we should never embrace alien species into natural ecosystems.</p> <p>This makes no sense for long-established introduced species, which might now be playing a <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-dingo-fence-from-space-satellite-images-show-how-these-top-predators-alter-the-desert-155642">positive role</a> in ecosystems. But it’s a different story for recently introduced species like cats, given not enough time has passed to get past the exaggerated impacts on local species.</p> <p>These ideas are not about considering all species present in an ecosystem to be native. Introduced species should still be considered alien until proven native.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435482/original/file-20211203-27-1atm2p2.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/435482/original/file-20211203-27-1atm2p2.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Cat sitting in the outback" /></a> <span class="caption">Cats are a bigger threat to Australian wildlife than dingoes.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>This approach suggests ways of classifying species which might be native to a country but have moved to new places within the country through mechanisms like climate change or re-wilding. For example, we can’t simply assume returning Tasmanian devils to <a href="https://theconversation.com/bringing-devils-back-to-the-mainland-could-help-wildlife-conservation-43121">mainland Australia</a> more than 3,000 years after dingoes drove them extinct there would count as reintroducing a native species.</p> <p>Defining nativeness in this ecological way will help resolve some of the heated and long-running debates over how to distinguish alien and native species.</p> <p>How? Because it targets the key reason conservationists were worried about alien species in the first place – the damage they can do.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172756/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-banks-7272">Peter Banks</a>, Professor of Conservation Biology, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-dingoes-should-be-considered-native-to-mainland-australia-even-though-humans-introduced-them-172756">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Making the tobacco industry pay for cigarette litter could stop 4.5 billion butts polluting the Australian environment

<p>Cigarette butts with filters are the most commonly littered item worldwide, with a staggering <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347528/">4.5 trillion</a> of them tossed into the environment each year. This is a huge problem; many end up on <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935119300787">beaches and in the ocean</a>, and the tar from burnt tobacco in the filter can be toxic to wildlife.</p> <p>Fixing the problem has focused on changing the behaviour of people who smoke, but a <a href="https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/pub-WWF-Australia-Ending-cigarette-butt-pollution-3Dec21.pdf.aspx">new report</a> shows making the tobacco industry responsible for the litter with a mandatory product stewardship scheme is likely to have a much greater impact.</p> <p>In Australia alone, it’s estimated up to 8.9 billion butts are littered each year. Under the proposed scheme, we could potentially reduce this by 4.45 billion a year.</p> <p>So how can it be done in practice? And what would the benefits be from a policy like this?</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433353/original/file-20211123-15-8zbai4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433353/original/file-20211123-15-8zbai4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Three wrens around a cigarette butt" /></a> <span class="caption">Smoked cigarette filters take months or even years to break down.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>Social and environmental costs</h2> <p>Cigarette filters are made of a bioplastic called cellulose acetate, and they typically take <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0117393">years to break down</a>. Smoked cigarette filters are infused with the same chemicals and heavy metals in the tar that harm humans when they smoke.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/cigarette-butts-are-the-forgotten-plastic-pollution-and-they-could-be-killing-our-plants-119958">Research from 2019 found</a> adding cigarette butts to soil reduces the germination of grass and clover seeds and the length of their shoots. Seaworms exposed to used filters have <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/srep14119">DNA damage and reduced growth</a>.</p> <p>And exposure to cigarette filters (even unsmoked ones) are toxic to fish – <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/Suppl_1/i25?utm_source=TrendMD&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_campaign=TC_TrendMD-0">research with two fish species </a> found adding two to four smoked cigarette filters per litre of water could kill them.</p> <p>Currently, the tobacco industry does not have to pay for the clean-up of cigarette butts polluting the environment. Rather, the community bears the cost. Cigarette litter and its management <a href="https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/pub-WWF-Australia-Ending-cigarette-butt-pollution-3Dec21.pdf.aspx">costs</a> the Australian economy an estimated A$73 million per year.</p> <p>Local councils in particular spend large amounts of money cleaning it up. The City of Sydney, for example, has estimated their cleaning crews sweep up <a href="https://campaignbrief.com/the-city-of-sydney-launches-ci/">15,000 cigarette butts daily</a> from city streets.</p> <p>And volunteers spend countless hours picking up cigarette butts from parks, streets and beaches. In its 2020 Rubbish Report, Clean Up Australia Day found cigarette butts accounted for <a href="https://www.cleanup.org.au/cigarette-butts">16% of all recorded items</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433349/original/file-20211123-19-1qwxthm.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433349/original/file-20211123-19-1qwxthm.JPG?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Two smiling men hold bags of rubbish" /></a> <span class="caption">Volunteers, such as for Clean Up Australia Day, spend countless hours picking up cigarette butts from the enviornment.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Glengarry Landcare VIC/Clean Up Australia</span></span></p> <h2>Current strategies are ineffective</h2> <p>The tobacco industry response to product waste has been to focus <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/2/100">responsibility on the consumer</a>. Tobacco companies have created public education campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of the butt litter problem, supplied consumers and cities worldwide with public ashtrays, and funded anti-litter groups.</p> <p>But given the amount of cigarettes that continue to be littered, it’s clear these strategies on their own have been ineffective. Many around the world are <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-explores-next-steps-to-clean-up-tobacco-litter-in-england">now calling for stronger industry regulation</a>.</p> <p>There have also been calls to ban cigarette filters completely. For example, lawmakers in <a href="https://calmatters.org/environment/2019/06/california-cigarette-butt-filter-ban-bill-electronic-disposable-vapes/">California</a> and New York have attempted to ban the sale of cigarettes with filters, and New Zealand is finalising their <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/proposals_for_a_smokefree_aotearoa_2025_action_plan-final.pdf">Smokefree Aotearoa Action Plan</a>, which may include a cigarette filter ban.</p> <p>Many jurisdictions in Australia and worldwide are starting to ban single-use plastics such as straws and takeaway containers, and have <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/367/bmj.l5890">been criticised</a> for not including cigarette filters in these laws.</p> <p>If filters were banned, cigarette butt litter would remain, but without the plastic filter. Although, <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2021/11/18/tobaccocontrol-2021-056815">a recent trial</a> of cigarettes without filters found that people smoked fewer of these than when they were given the same cigarettes with filters. More research is needed on the health impact of smoking filterless cigarettes and the environmental impact of filterless cigarette butts.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433352/original/file-20211123-27-d6ktd4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433352/original/file-20211123-27-d6ktd4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">A pubic cigarette butt disposal facility in Salem, US.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>What would a stewardship scheme look like?</h2> <p>The federal government’s <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/national-plastics-plan-2021.pdf">National Plastics Plan</a>, released in March this year, committed to initiate a stewardship taskforce that would reduce cigarette butt litter in Australia, and would consider a potential stewardship scheme. However, they proposed the stewardship taskforce be industry led.</p> <p>Product stewardship schemes can be voluntary or written into law. For example, waste from product packaging is managed through a voluntary scheme, the <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/plastics-and-packaging/packaging-covenant">Australian Packaging Covenant</a>, which sets targets for reducing packaging waste that aren’t written into law. On the other hand, <a href="https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/product-stewardship/products-schemes/television-computer-recycling-scheme">there is a law in Australia</a> requiring companies who manufacture TVs or computers to pay some of the costs for recycling these products.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wwf.org.au/ArticleDocuments/353/pub-WWF-Australia-Ending-cigarette-butt-pollution-3Dec21.pdf.aspx">new research</a>, commissioned by World Wildlife Fund for Nature Australia, considered four regulatory approaches: business as usual, a ban on plastic filters, a voluntary industry product stewardship scheme, and a mandatory product stewardship scheme led by the federal government.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433344/original/file-20211123-13-tpimfd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;rect=0%2C16%2C5442%2C3600&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433344/original/file-20211123-13-tpimfd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;rect=0%2C16%2C5442%2C3600&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="A hand in blue plastic gloves holds a cigarette butt on the beach" /></a> <span class="caption">Cigarette litter costs the Australian economy an estimated A$73 million each year.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Brian Yurasits/Unsplash</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <p>Each of these options were ranked according to factors such as the regulatory effort required to implement them, their cost, consumer participation and the extent to which they would reduce environmental impacts on land and waterways.</p> <p>A ban on plastic cigarette filters and a mandatory product stewardship scheme were assessed as having the greatest potential environmental benefit. While uncertainties remain about a filter ban, there is no such barrier to implementing a mandatory product stewardship scheme on cigarette waste.</p> <p>This scheme could involve a tax that would pay for the recovery and processing costs associated with cigarette butt litter. The study suggested introducing a levy of A$0.004 – less than half a cent – on each smoked cigarette to manage the waste. Other studies from overseas, however, show this cost would need to be <a href="https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/20/Suppl_1/i36.full">higher</a>.</p> <p>We can look to the UK for an example of where to start. The UK is currently considering implementing an extended producer responsibility scheme to address cigarette litter. In November this year, it released a <a href="https://consult.defra.gov.uk/environmental-quality/call-for-evidence-on-commonly-littered-and-problem/supporting_documents/Call%20for%20evidence%20document.pdf">consultation document</a> on different options.</p> <p>They proposed a mandatory scheme where the tobacco industry would pay for the full costs of cleaning up and processing cigarette waste. Other costs they might be made to pay are for gathering and reporting data on tobacco product waste, provision of bins for cigarette butts, and campaigns to promote responsible disposal by consumers.</p> <p>It is time for the federal and state governments in Australia to make the tobacco industry pay for the mess they create.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/171831/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kylie-morphett-1271253">Kylie Morphett</a>, Research Fellow, School of Public Health, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/coral-gartner-7425">Coral Gartner</a>, Director, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-clarke-380521">William Clarke</a>, Professor of waste management, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/making-the-tobacco-industry-pay-for-cigarette-litter-could-stop-4-5-billion-butts-polluting-the-australian-environment-171831">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shuttershock</em></p>

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Australia has a heritage conservation problem. Can farming and Aboriginal heritage protection co-exist?

<p>Rio Tinto’s destruction of the 46,000 year old Juukan Gorge rock shelters has led to recommendations by the Parliamentary Inquiry on <a href="https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/reportjnt/024757/toc_pdf/AWayForward.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf">how Australia can better conserve Aboriginal heritage sites</a>.</p> <p>Around the time the recommendations were made, Queensland’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act faced an important test when a pastoralist who cleared 500 hectares of bushland at Kingvale Station in Cape York <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/qld-country-hour/scott-harris-cleared-of-breaching-cultural-heritage-act/13592850">was charged</a> with failing to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage.</p> <p>The charges were eventually <a href="https://www.northqueenslandregister.com.au/story/7474626/cultural-heritage-charges-against-scott-harris-dismissed/">dismissed</a> but the prosecution, the first of its kind in Queensland, highlights weaknesses in the law.</p> <p>Like related legislation in other Australian states and territories, Queensland’s law requires landholders to conserve Aboriginal heritage sites or risk prosecution.</p> <p>But the law has been criticised by many Aboriginal people and heritage specialists for allowing destructive development by removing any ability for government to independently assess how proposed clearing would affect Aboriginal heritage.</p> <p>Under the “duty of care” provisions in the Act, Aboriginal heritage must be protected even if it is not known to landholders. However, as the Kingvale clearing case heard, if Aboriginal heritage is not known, how can it be shown to have been lost?</p> <h2>What we learned from the Kingvale clearing case</h2> <p>In 2013, the former Newman government in Queensland removed protection for the environment by introducing the Vegetation Management Act which enabled clearing of what they deemed as “high value agricultural projects” in Cape York.</p> <p>The World Wildlife Foundation argued this would see large areas of forest and bushland destroyed. Advocates for the new Act <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2013-05-22/veg-law-pass/4705890">argued</a> primary producers are “acutely aware of their responsibility to care for the environment”.</p> <p>In opening up new areas of Cape York to clearing, this legislation posed new threats to heritage sites. In this context the landholder of Kingvale decided he did not need to assess cultural heritage when clearing 500 hectares.</p> <p>At the conclusion of the hearing into this case, Judge Julie Dick of the Cairns District Court instructed the jury to return <a href="https://www.cairnspost.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=CPWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&amp;dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cairnspost.com.au%2Fnews%2Fcairns%2Fcape-york-grazier-cleared-of-criminal-land-clearing-charges%2Fnews-story%2F1d124158e58936a302f1ee5d159ad841&amp;memtype=anonymous&amp;mode=premium">a not-guilty verdict</a>, exonerating the landholder, as the offence could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.</p> <p>The landholder’s legal team noted in the media if their defendant had been found guilty, every landholder (including freeholders) who had cleared land, built a fence or firebreak, ploughed a paddock, or built a road or airstrip since 2003 would potentially be guilty of a criminal offence.</p> <p>The defendant argued the ramifications of the legal case were significant</p> <blockquote> <p>for the rest of Queensland […] anyone who mowed a lawn or cut down a tree since 2003 would be automatically liable.</p> </blockquote> <p>In our view, this is hyperbole. <a href="https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/inforce/2016-09-27/act-2003-079">Section 21 of the Act</a> makes explicit a person’s right to enjoy the normal and allowed use of their land to the extent they don’t harm Aboriginal heritage.</p> <p>Further, a person doesn’t commit an offence if they take into account the nature of the activity and the likelihood of it causing harm. Mowing the lawn is quite different to clearing 500 hectares of native vegetation.</p> <p>The setting of this activity is also important. Kingvale Station is located 100 kilometres west of the national heritage listed Quinkan Country. Heritage studies in similar landscapes across Cape York have identified scarred trees, artefact scatters, stone arrangements and cultural burial places.</p> <p>Based on our heritage experience across Queensland, it would be surprising not to find Aboriginal heritage sites at Kingvale.</p> <p>To reduce heritage risks, we assess the potential impacts of an activity, and talk with relevant Aboriginal groups about their sites and heritage values. Archaeologists and anthropologists also develop models to predict where unknown sites are likely to be found.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/431020/original/file-20211109-23-aylfq7.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Recorded archaeological sites across Cape York. The distribution pattern reflects several key heritage surveys. It is expected that cultural sites would be found across the cape, including within the 500 hectares cleared at Kingvale. Image by Kelsey M. Lowe.</span></p> <h2>Can farming and the conservation of Aboriginal heritage co-exist?</h2> <p>The best way to conserve heritage is for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians to work together to identify, document, and protect places. An important example is the discovery of human remains from a mortuary tree west of St George, southern Queensland.</p> <p>The site was discovered during fence clearing by the landholder, who contacted the police. We worked with the landholder who has supported the Kooma nations people to conserve the mortuary tree and enable it to remain on country.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qKJs23hwLXA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><span class="caption">Courtesy of Tony Miscamble, NGH Consulting.</span></p> <p>A further example from Mithaka Country saw a spectacular stone arrangement discovered by a pastoral station manager, who notified the native title holders.</p> <p>All are now engaging with researchers to <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=TAWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&amp;dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theaustralian.com.au%2Fnation%2Fstones-point-way-to-indigenous-silk-road%2Fnews-story%2F8318b531d82263beab4afd089fd8d559&amp;memtype=anonymous&amp;mode=premium">investigate the site’s history</a>.</p> <p>Dozens of other examples around the state illustrate collaborative approaches to heritage conservation. But more effective legislation is urgently needed in response to Kingvale’s failed prosecution.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/430631/original/file-20211107-10010-f752su.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">A spectacular stone arrangement from Mithaka country. Image courtesy of Lyndon Mechielsen</span></p> <h2>How can we improve cultural heritage protection?</h2> <p>The Juukan Gorge case highlighted how Australia has a problem protecting its Aboriginal cultural heritage. The final report of the parliamentary inquiry into the disaster made several <a href="https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/reportjnt/024757/toc_pdf/AWayForward.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf">recommendations</a> that could help pave a way forward.</p> <p>Instances like Kingvale emphasise more work needs to be done. The Queensland government needs to act now to address the glaring problem with its heritage legislation.</p> <p>Heritage management investment will also help. Victoria provides an example of how to improve Aboriginal heritage management. A standout action is the roll-out of a Certificate IV in Aboriginal cultural heritage management, with over 500 Aboriginal graduates to date.</p> <p>This program is decentralising heritage management and empowering Aboriginal people across Victoria, building a level of professionalism rarely seen in other states.</p> <p>Establishing treaties and agreements similar to those in Canada and New Zealand could go a long way to enable First Nations people in Australia to authoritatively protect their respective cultural heritage sites.</p> <p>Heritage conservation will remain challenging, particularly in resource-rich states like Queensland. But we can do better.</p> <p>Judge Dick’s ruling, while frustrating for the effort to conserve heritage, is crucial as it highlights weaknesses in the law.</p> <p>This trial, along with the Juukan Gorge incident, may represent a critical tipping point in the struggle to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage in Queensland and across Australia.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/170956/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-westaway-118240">Michael Westaway</a>, Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Archaeology, School of Social Science, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joshua-gorringe-1237694">Joshua Gorringe</a>, General Manager Mithaka Aboriginal Corporation, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/indigenous-knowledge-4846">Indigenous Knowledge</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kelsey-m-lowe-1287335">Kelsey M. Lowe</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/richard-martin-595866">Richard Martin</a>, Senior lecturer, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ross-mitchell-1288513">Ross Mitchell</a>, Common Law holder and director of Kooma Aboriginal Corporation Native Title PBC, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/indigenous-knowledge-4846">Indigenous Knowledge</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-has-a-heritage-conservation-problem-can-farming-and-aboriginal-heritage-protection-co-exist-170956">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Dave Hunt/AAP Image</em></p>

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Breathtaking wilderness in the heart of coal country: after a 90-year campaign, Gardens of Stone is finally protected

<p>In the rocky upland wilderness of Wiradjuri Country two hours west of Sydney lies a new protected area with a <a href="https://www.nature.org.au/a_history_of_the_gardens_of_stone_campaign">nine-decade-long history</a> of dogged environmental activism: the Gardens of Stone.</p> <p>Last month, the New South Wales government <a href="https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/bill/files/3928/First%20Print.pdf">officially recognised</a> the Gardens of Stone as a State Conservation Area within the National Parks estate. <a href="https://www.nature.org.au/a_history_of_the_gardens_of_stone_campaign">First proposed in 1932</a> and with a small portion of the area designated as National Park in 1994, this decision will see more than 30,000 hectares finally protected.</p> <p>The government has also earmarked the region <a href="https://mattkean.com.au/news/media-release/gardens-stone-and-lost-city-adventures">for ecotourism</a>. With its epic gorges, the globally unique hanging swamps of Newnes Plateau, craggy cliff ravines and slot canyons, this 250-million-year-old geological landscape is a paradise for adventurers.</p> <p>But more than anything, the Gardens of Stone is, as stalwart campaigner Julie Favell puts it, a “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/13/storybook-of-nature-a-landmark-win-as-gardens-of-stone-in-nsws-blue-mountains-protected">storybook of nature</a>”. This is no simple story, but one of a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301421518302489">generational mining community</a> on the brink of social change and an often thankless, hard-won battle for ecological recognition in the heart of coal country.</p> <h2>Sandstone towers and rare wildlife</h2> <p>Towering sandstone and iron-banded <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNcceomLvs0&amp;ab_channel=IntotheWildFilms">pagoda formations</a> are what you’d most likely find on a Gardens of Stone postcard. These intricately weathered structures breach the eucalyptus canopy and cluster on a cliff, like a cross between the temples of Angkor Wat and a massive beehive complex.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MNcceomLvs0?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">The Lost City, Newnes Plateau, in Lithgow.</span></p> <p>For close and curious observers, there are also smaller, less dramatic icons. Rare wildflowers abound, including countless native orchids and the pagoda daisy, which grows only in rocky crags. In fact, the park is home to more than 40 threatened species, including the <a href="https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10841">regent honeyeater</a> and the <a href="https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10207">spotted-tail quoll</a>.</p> <p>A humble jewel of the Gardens of Stone is its endangered upland peat swamps. Resembling a meadow clearing, up close these swamps form watery spongescapes that function as both kitchen and nursery to hundreds of local species. Inhabitants include the endangered <a href="https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10322">Blue Mountains water-skink</a> and <a href="https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10600&amp;linkId=99343958">giant dragonfly</a>.</p> <p>These upland swamps on sandstone are found nowhere else in the world, and they play a critical role in <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09640568.2019.1679100">regional water and climate resilience</a>, as they store carbon and mediate flooding and drought.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434647/original/file-20211130-19-16t5mk1.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434647/original/file-20211130-19-16t5mk1.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Pagoda daisy, which grows nowhere else in Australia.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Julie Favell</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <h2>A rocky battle</h2> <p>The environmental features of the Gardens of Stone are so intertwined with local, state and national conservation efforts that to tell the story of one is to tell the story of the other.</p> <p>Local environment groups have worked relentlessly to <a href="https://ro.uow.edu.au/scipapers/3063/">demonstrate the geological heritage</a> of the pagodas in the <a href="https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/5067592/threat-to-gardens-of-stone-from-proposed-open-cut-mining/">face of open cut mining</a>. They have documented the impacts of mining on <a href="http://www.lithgowenvironment.org/pages/swamp%20watch.php">swamps and waterways</a>, tried to <a href="https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/5268473/springvale-fined-for-damage-to-vegetation-in-endangered-swampland/">hold companies accountable</a> for their destruction, and recorded the presence of <a href="http://www.lithgowenvironment.org/pages/flora%20and%20fauna%201.php">many hundreds</a> of previously undocumented plant and animal species in an effort to have the area’s value formally recognised.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434649/original/file-20211130-17-1wc5fr7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434649/original/file-20211130-17-1wc5fr7.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Gooches Crater swamp, ringed by cliffs and pagodas.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Julie Favell</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>This long campaign has also been the subject of <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-02/springvale-mine-extension-blocked-in-court/8766742">legal battles</a> in the courts of NSW. The last two decades in particular have seen, for example, countless petitions, <a href="https://gggallery.com.au/anne-graham-2/">public events</a>, <a href="http://www.lithgowenvironment.org/pages/stream%20watch.php">environmental testing and monitoring projects</a>, and the task of sifting through technical mining documents with each new mining proposal.</p> <p>Two mines are currently in operation within the conservation area, with an extension to an <a href="https://www.centennialcoal.com.au/operations/angus-place/">existing site proposed</a>. The most significant impacts from mining in recent decades have been sandstone cracking, causing swamps to dry out and die, and disruptions to upland water flows and regional water quality.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434651/original/file-20211130-15-13m3pgj.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434651/original/file-20211130-15-13m3pgj.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Lithgow Environment Group’s Chris Jonkers in a swamp damaged from nearby mining.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Julie Favell</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Conserving the Gardens of Stone has been an uphill battle in overcoming indifference and opposition.</p> <p>At the local level, environmental impacts from mining were <a href="https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/2318819/mining-industry-again-a-target/">derided as inconsequential</a> in the face of mining employment, with campaigners bearing the brunt of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/13/storybook-of-nature-a-landmark-win-as-gardens-of-stone-in-nsws-blue-mountains-protected">distrust and hostility</a> from pro-coal locals towards their perceived interference.</p> <p>At the state level, hard-won environmental protections <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/10/nsw-to-weaken-water-quality-test-for-extensions-to-mines">were overthrown in favour of mining approvals</a>. In 2017, the NSW government weakened laws to allow mining extensions that impacted Sydney’s drinking water quality, with <a href="https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/threatened-species/nsw-threatened-species-scientific-committee/determinations/final-determinations/2004-2007/alteration-of-habitat-following-subsidence-due-to-longwall-mining-key-threatening-process-listing">likely damage</a> to legally protected swamps within the Gardens of Stone not addressed.</p> <p>Due to existing mining developments, the extended Gardens of Stone isn’t officially designated as a National Park, but is instead a “<a href="https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/conservation-and-heritage/state-conservation-areas">conservation area</a>”. This means any new developments, such as extensions to mines, must use processes <a href="https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/7368602/centennial-coal-propose-new-project-to-delight-of-environmentalists/">that support</a> conservation requirements.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434655/original/file-20211130-21-1e6u2x3.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434655/original/file-20211130-21-1e6u2x3.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Spotted-tail quolls are one of the rare species living in the Gardens of Stone.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>Transitioning away from coal</h2> <p>Hopefully, encouraging responsible developments will avoid further <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-30/gardens-of-stone-conservation-proposal/100103246">ecological damage</a> and help enable a smoother economic transition away from coal in the coming decades.</p> <p>Despite Australia’s <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/11/coal-mining-australia-climate-cop26/">national climate strategy</a> remaining entrenched in coal, <a href="https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/7291551/angus-place-in-doubt-after-parent-company-pivots-to-clean-energy-future/">local coal</a> prospects are winding down. This seems heralded by <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-24/wallerawang-coal-demolition/100643694">last week’s demolition of Wallerawang Power Station</a> just outside the new conservation area.</p> <p>The new conservation area comes with a A$50 million investment, and will see hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to explore a range of proposed new attractions. Chief among these will be the Lost City Adventure Experience, featuring Australia’s longest zipline and an elevated canyon walk, as well as a rock-climbing route and a six day wilderness track. These attractions are expected to create an extra 200 jobs.</p> <p>This new pivot towards ecotourism provides an example of a strategic and environmentally just transition pathway for the coal community in practice.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434653/original/file-20211130-23-12arbsv.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/434653/original/file-20211130-23-12arbsv.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Pagodas at Newnes in the Gardens of Stone.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Julie Favell</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>The Gardens of Stone victory may reflect a <a href="https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/5577143/mundey-cfmeu-conservationists-talk-39000-hectare-state-reserve/">new dawn of negotiation</a> that could mark an end to the often antagonistic view of conservation as a threat to local livelihoods in this area.</p> <p>This victory and vision belongs squarely with its environmental campaigners, some of whom have <a href="https://www.nature.org.au/a_history_of_the_gardens_of_stone_campaign">given over 30 years of sustained and dedicated effort</a> to make it a reality.</p> <p>As the world’s attention is increasingly turned towards climate action, the success of this campaign may provide the surge of momentum we need for a more sustainable future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172503/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hannah-della-bosca-416132">Hannah Della Bosca</a>, PhD Candidate and Research Assistant at Sydney Environment Institute, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/breathtaking-wilderness-in-the-heart-of-coal-country-after-a-90-year-campaign-gardens-of-stone-is-finally-protected-172503">original article</a>.</p>

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Even if we halt global warming, local climates will change – and we need new experiments to understand how

<p>There’s a big question mark over whether the world will keep global warming below the limits set out in the Paris Agreement. But even if we do, the climate will keep evolving – and society needs to prepare for this.</p> <p>At the moment, climate models don’t tell us much about a future world in which temperatures have stabilised. As our <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-01225-0">research</a> published today argues, new model experiments are needed to close this knowledge gap and better understand the challenges ahead.</p> <p>For example, in southern Australia, climate change has already caused a <a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-likely-driving-a-drier-southern-australia-so-why-are-we-having-such-a-wet-year-172409">trend</a> towards less rain and more frequent and prolonged drought. If the global climate stabilises, we expect this drying trend to reverse, which could ease future strains on water supply in this region. This would in turn affect urban planning, agriculture and water policy.</p> <p>The new models we’re proposing would enable more useful climate projections aligned with the Paris Agreement targets – and better prepare society for a warmer, but more stable, global temperature.</p> <h2>Targeting a stable climate</h2> <p>Under the landmark Paris Agreement, the world is aiming to keep global warming well below 2℃ compared with <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-a-pre-industrial-climate-and-why-does-it-matter-78601">pre-industrial</a> times, and preferably below 1.5℃.</p> <p>The world is warming at a rate of around 0.25℃ per decade and is already about <a href="https://www.globalwarmingindex.org/">1.2℃ warmer</a> than in pre-industrial times.</p> <p>This warming won’t stop until net greenhouse gas emissions are <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-will-global-warming-stop-as-soon-as-net-zero-emissions-are-reached">near zero</a>. If we don’t greatly reduce emissions in the next decade, we will warm the planet beyond 1.5℃.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433635/original/file-20211124-24-c6db8t.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">The world has warmed and will continue to warm in the coming decades but the Paris Agreement targets a stabilised future climate with low global warming.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>To date, climate simulations used to examine the implications of the Paris Agreement either assume warming continues beyond 1.5℃ and 2℃, or only examine a short period after warming has stopped. This is because most of these simulations were not specifically designed to analyse global warming levels linked to the Paris Agreement, and mostly focus only on what will happen this century.</p> <p>If we manage to stabilise global temperatures, other aspects of Earth’s climate would continue to change. Studies based on <a href="https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/bams/100/12/bams-d-19-0068.1.xml">long model experiments</a> suggest ocean and land temperatures continue to evolve for centuries after global warming slows. That’s because the ocean warms at a slower rate than the land, and warming water can take hundreds, and even thousands, of years to mix into the deep ocean.</p> <p>Even after the global temperature stabilises at the levels set out in the Paris Agreement, many ocean areas would likely warm by at least a further 0.5℃. Meanwhile some land areas would cool by <a href="https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/how-fast-the-planet-warms-will-be-crucial-for-liveability">at least 0.5℃</a>.</p> <p>The ocean takes time to catch up – and as it does, land temperatures have to fall to maintain the same global average temperature.</p> <p>In addition, if global temperature remained near-constant, rainfall patterns would likely <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0397-9">change</a>. In some subtropical regions, such as southern Australia, this might mean a reversal of the drying trends we’ve seen over the past few decades.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433830/original/file-20211125-27-1wn5fny.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="man stands on ice looking at Arctic scene" /> <span class="caption">The ocean takes time to catch up to global warming.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <h2>New models are needed</h2> <p>Clearly, we need new experiments to model Earth’s climate if warming is stabilised at 1.5℃. Our <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-01225-0">new paper</a> proposes a framework for designing these experiments.</p> <p>Our framework differs from the approach taken by various climate modelling groups around the world in recent decades.</p> <p>These groups have all used the same projection of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and how they change through time. This <a href="https://gmd.copernicus.org/articles/9/3461/2016/gmd-9-3461-2016.pdf">approach</a> allows for comparison of climate projections between models for the same greenhouse gas scenarios.</p> <p>But because each group fed this projection into their own climate model – each with their own characteristics – each produced different predictions for how much global warming would occur. Also, these model simulations are mostly run only to 2100, and so represent a world that’s continuing to warm and hasn’t had time to stabilise.</p> <p>Instead, our framework involves reaching the same level of global warming across a range of climate models. This would be achieved by “turning off” the carbon emissions used in various climate models at different times.</p> <p>So, a climate model that warms more strongly in response to greenhouse gas emissions would have its carbon emissions “turned off” earlier, relative to a slower warming model. This would provide a group of climate model simulations at around the same level of global warming.</p> <p>Stopping carbon emissions will <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-will-global-warming-stop-as-soon-as-net-zero-emissions-are-reached">cause</a> global warming to slow and, eventually, stop. Running these simulations for up to 1,000 years after carbon emissions stop will allow us to investigate and understand the effects of climate stabilisation in line with the Paris Agreement.</p> <p>A few global modelling centres have started running simulations following similar frameworks, including Australia’s CSIRO. We invite other climate modelling centres to join us in our experiments, and help policymakers and societies better prepare for a warmer world.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172482/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrew-king-103126">Andrew King</a>, ARC DECRA fellow, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/andrea-dittus-1293606">Andrea Dittus</a>, Research Scientist in Climate Variability, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-reading-902">University of Reading</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ed-hawkins-104793">Ed Hawkins</a>, Professor of Climate Science, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-reading-902">University of Reading</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/josephine-brown-971906">Josephine Brown</a>, Senior Lecturer, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kale-sniderman-20733">Kale Sniderman</a>, Senior Research Fellow, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tilo-ziehn-1293605">Tilo Ziehn</a>, Principal Research Scientist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/csiro-1035">CSIRO</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/even-if-we-halt-global-warming-local-climates-will-change-and-we-need-new-experiments-to-understand-how-172482">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shuttershock</em></p>

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Government to fund PCR tests required for domestic travel

<p>Image: Getty </p> <p>Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed overnight that Australians will not be required to pay an upwards of $150 for a PCR Covid-19 test in order to travel domestically.</p> <p>Instead, PCR tests for interstate travel will be covered by the government under Medicare, funded jointly by the Commonwealth and the states, as has been the case for all walk-in testing clinics.</p> <p>The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed Minister Hunt’s confirmation, and called it a “victory”. This comes after days of confusion and critique over Queensland’s entry requirements.</p> <p>“Minister Hunt says the charge for a PCR test was only when a certificate is required,” she said.</p> <p>“Queensland made it plain weeks ago that the text message most people receive after is a test is acceptable and I am pleased this victory has occurred and people can look forward to being reunited in time for Christmas – without additional cost – as my government has always planned.”</p> <p>It comes as Queensland prepares to re-open its border to those who are fully vaccinated travellers from 17<sup>th</sup> December, pending a negative PCR test.</p> <p>Previously, it was thought that travellers would need a certificate highlighting their negative result, which can only be obtained through a private pathology centre, as opposed to a free walk-in clinic, at a cost of roughly $150.</p> <p>The decision was criticised, as families claimed a trip across the border for Christmas would ultimately cost them hundreds of dollars.</p> <p>However, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said earlier that a text message showcasing a negative result would suffice in order to enter her state from COVID hotspots (currently NSW, Victoria and ACT).</p> <p>This announcement continued to raise questions and cause confusion, as NSW authorities earlier suggested that travellers requiring a PCR test result were not welcome to attend free walk-in clinics.</p> <p>However Minister Hunt has since stated that given Queensland will not require any further evidence apart from a text message result, PCR tests for travel can be performed for free at walk-in clinics.</p> <p>“A pathology test will only be charged for a patient when they are required to obtain an official certificate, rather than using the existing text message system that is in operation in every state and territory,” he said.</p> <p>Meanwhile, earlier this week, Minister Hunt had been in discussions with Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath, urging Queensland to consider rapid antigen testing as an alternative to pricey PCR tests as sufficient for travel into Queensland, or to help foot the bill for PCR tests for travel purposes.</p> <p>“I am concerned about this in two regards,” Minister Hunt wrote. “Firstly, it appears Queensland has failed to give sufficient regard to the value of rapid antigen testing (RAT) in this context, and secondly, that Queensland is proposing not to assist Queenslanders with the provision of these tests.”</p> <p>Additionally, Minister Hunt questioned Queensland’s decision to continue to nominate NSW, Victoria and the ACT as a hotspot, and require a negative test for travel.</p>

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At long last, Australia has a bioenergy roadmap – and its findings are startling

<p>Using organic waste to make energy – think sewage, animal and crop residues, and leftover wood – has finally been put under the spotlight with last week’s release of Australia’s first <a href="https://arena.gov.au/assets/2021/11/australia-bioenergy-roadmap-report.pdf">Bioenergy Roadmap</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://arena.gov.au/renewable-energy/bioenergy/">Bioenergy</a> is a versatile form of renewable energy which produces heat, electricity, transport fuels, chemicals, and by-products like organic fertiliser. It’s a promising way to bring Australia’s emissions down, while re-purposing waste that would otherwise go to landfill.</p> <p>The roadmap predicts that by the 2030s, the sector could boost Australia’s annual GDP by around A$10 billion, create 26,200 jobs, reduce emissions by about 9%, divert an extra 6% of waste from landfill, and enhance fuel security.</p> <p>Still, bioenergy is complex and poorly understood. We were part of the roadmap review reference group, and believe it has a bright future, as the key to successful bioenergy projects is to match the right fuel source with the right technology.</p> <h2>Bioenergy state of play in Australia</h2> <p>Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor commissioned the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to <a href="https://arena.gov.au/news/arena-to-develop-roadmap-to-boost-bioenergy-opportunities-in-australia/">develop the roadmap</a> and, on Friday, announced $33.5 million in funding to implement it. This is on top of <a href="https://arena.gov.au/projects/?project-value-start=0&amp;project-value-end=200000000&amp;technology=bioenergy">more than $118 million</a> already provided by the federal government to help fund bioenergy projects.</p> <p>This funding has been a long time coming, as the sector has <a href="https://theconversation.com/bioenergy-australias-forgotten-renewable-energy-source-so-far-28277">struggled to get the same attention</a> from policymakers as other forms of renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydro.</p> <p>In 2020, bioenergy represented only <a href="https://assets.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/documents/resources/reports/clean-energy-australia/clean-energy-australia-report-2021.pdf">5% of Australia’s</a> renewable electricity <em>generation</em>, putting Australia at the <a href="https://cdn.revolutionise.com.au/news/vabsvwo5pa8jnsgs.pdf">bottom quartile of OECD countries</a> when it comes to bioenergy as a share of total energy supply. And yet, bioenergy is responsible for nearly <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/sites/default/files/Australian%20Energy%20Statistics%202021%20Energy%20Update%20Report.pdf">50% of Australia’s current renewable energy</a> <em>consumption</em>.</p> <p>But the sector has started gaining traction. <a href="https://cdn.revolutionise.com.au/news/vabsvwo5pa8jnsgs.pdf">In 2018, Australia had 222</a> operating bioenergy plants and an additional 55 projects under construction or at the feasibility stage.</p> <p><a href="https://arena.gov.au/projects/logan-city-biosolids-gasification-project">One example</a> is a new project in Logan City Council in Queensland. Each year, Logan City produces 34,000 tonnes of biosolids (treated sewage sludge).</p> <p>A technology called gasification is significantly reducing the need to dispose of these biosolids, and will save about $500,000 in operating costs. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353208070_An_investigation_into_the_mobility_of_heavy_metals_in_soils_amended_with_biosolids-derived_biochar">Research is also underway</a> to see how the by-product of this treatment can be sold as a soil conditioner for agriculture.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/432973/original/file-20211121-21-1v5o50t.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/432973/original/file-20211121-21-1v5o50t.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Gasifier developer Pyrocal is a project partner of the Logan City Biosolids Project.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Pyrocal</span>, <span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <h2>So why is it good for the environment?</h2> <p>Using biomass as an energy source instead of fossil fuels can reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. Bioenergy can be emissions-neutral, especially when wastes are used as a fuel source. This is because:</p> <ul> <li> <p>it captures methane when organic waste breaks down. This methane would otherwise have been released to the atmosphere</p> </li> <li> <p>it’s used in place of fossil fuels, displacing those CO₂ emissions.</p> </li> </ul> <p>For example, <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-just-hot-air-turning-sydneys-wastewater-into-green-gas-could-be-a-climate-boon-150672">the recent biomethane trial</a> at Sydney Waters Malabar plant captures methane from sewage sludge, to replace fossil natural gas in the gas network.</p> <p>What’s more, a strong bioenergy industry can help support Australian farmers looking for the benefits of running a carbon-neutral operation, and boost economic growth in regional areas.</p> <p>Bioenergy can also have <a href="https://www.ieabioenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/BIOENERGY-AND-SUSTAINABLE-DEVELOPMENT-final-20170215.pdf">negative impacts</a> if not developed properly. As we’ve seen in international projects, the biggest concern is inappropriate changes to land use to supply biomass. This could, for example, lead to greater deforestation in order to supply wood.</p> <p>However, bioenergy technologies are neither good nor bad per se. Avoiding unintended risks depends on appropriate governance. A good example is the <a href="https://www.iscc-system.org/">International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Scheme</a>, which aims to ensure bioenergy companies are transparent and uphold ethical values.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433055/original/file-20211122-19-1vnrzxj.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433055/original/file-20211122-19-1vnrzxj.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Avoiding risks in bioenergy depends on good governance.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Shutterstock</span></span></p> <p>Critics have recently <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/19/a-farce-experts-dismiss-government-claims-a-controversial-and-unproven-technology-will-cut-emissions-by-15">voiced their concern</a> about the federal government’s claim that bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, also known as BECCS, will cut emissions by 15% by 2050.</p> <p><a href="https://www.iea.org/articles/unlocking-the-potential-of-bioenergy-with-carbon-capture-and-utilisation-or-storage-beccus">The International Energy Agency</a> has identified BECCS as a technology with the potential to be truly carbon negative, which means it can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing energy for consumption.</p> <p>But the Bioenergy Roadmap did not focus on BECCS. Instead, it gave an expansive overview of all bioenergy technologies in the short to medium term, outlining where bioenergy can complement other low emissions technologies, and create opportunities for industry and governments to drive commercial growth.</p> <h2>A snapshot of the roadmap</h2> <p>The roadmap was developed following extensive <a href="https://arena.gov.au/knowledge-innovation/bioenergy-roadmap/#make-a-submission">consultation</a> with industry, researchers and the public. It identified major opportunities for Australia in four key areas.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433052/original/file-20211122-13-1e1fz24.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/433052/original/file-20211122-13-1e1fz24.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">It’s notoriously hard to reduce emissions from aviation. Biofuel could offer a solution.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Ashim d Silva/Unsplash</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <p>First, in hard-to-abate sectors. This includes generating renewable heat for the manufacturing industry, fuel for sustainable aviation, and renewable gas (biomethane) to displace fossil natural gas in the grid. For example, sustainable aviation biofuels are the only low-emissions alternatives to traditional, high-emitting jet fuel, that are available in the short to medium term.</p> <p>Second, to complement other markets. In road transport, for example, biofuels can offer other low-emissions alternatives such as hydrogen and electric vehicles, and, in particular, can replace diesel in long-haul transport. In the grid, bioelectricity generation can support greater penetration of renewable energy such as solar and wind.</p> <p>Third, in developing our understanding of our vast bioenergy resources across agriculture, forestry, and organic waste. We need further research and innovation to turn Australia’s theoretical bioenergy resource potential – which is massive in every state – into a reality.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/432974/original/file-20211121-13-1gmnguh.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/432974/original/file-20211121-13-1gmnguh.gif?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Breakdown of Australia’s theoretical resource potential in petajoules per annum (PJ)</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Bioenergy Roadmap/ARENA</span></span></p> <p>And finally, increasing collaboration between industry, state and federal governments. For example, developing industry guidelines and standards can help produce reliable results. This in turn helps commercialise mature technologies that are new to Australia. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/172235/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bernadette-mccabe-147872">Bernadette McCabe</a>, Professor and Principal Scientist, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-southern-queensland-1069">University of Southern Queensland</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ian-ohara-4088">Ian O'Hara</a>, Professor, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/at-long-last-australia-has-a-bioenergy-roadmap-and-its-findings-are-startling-172235">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Shuttershock</em></p>

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