Archived News for Green Sector Professionals - February, 2012
A lack of scientific knowledge is no longer the problem in countering the effects of climate change, but rather it is a lack of action.
Conducted by the Australian National University (ANU) and associated colleagues in Germany, the UK and the USA, the study has found that the greatest barrier to sustainability is the inability to convert knowledge into action.
A co-author of the study, Dr Robert Dyball from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, said that sustainability demands urgent and real changes in human behaviour. While more knowledge is useful, the focus needs to be on how and when humans willingly change their behaviour based on what they know.
The Australian Green Infrastructure Council has launched the nation’s first national scheme for rating infrastructure sustainability. The rating system has been developed co-operatively with many of the AGIC’s membership organisations.
The struggle between the Victorian and Commonwealth governments over alpine grazing is continuing after the Victorian Government has requested the Federal Court to review the recent decision by the Commonwealth Environment Minister Tony Burke to stop a research trial into the use of strategic cattle grazing as a bushfire risk mitigation and fuel reduction tool in Victoria's high country.
The South Australian Government has passed legislation that will ban mining in the state’s Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary after the bill was successfully passed by the Upper House.
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, has announced that regulations to establish the Jobs and Competitiveness Program under the Clean Energy Act 2011 are now in place.
The Victorian Government has released the findings from the review into Sustainability Victoria (SV), which State Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith says will help chart a course for a more effective investment in waste reduction and improved energy measures.
The Federal Government has opened the new $15 million Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness (ABIR) Program for applications. The announcement comes after the awarding of a $5 million grant to James Cook University to develop a macro-algae biofuel project.
More than 300 eminent scientists from 21 other countries around the world have urged the Australian Federal Government to create the world’s largest no-take marine reserve in the Coral Sea.
A pioneering scientific expedition that will document the health of coral on the Great Barrier Reef will be undertaken as a joint venture between global technology giant Google, the UQ Global Change Institute, not-for-profit organisation Underwater Earth, and insurance company Catlin.
The Catlin Seaview Survey aims to carry out the first comprehensive study of the composition and health of Reef coral to a depth of 100m.
The project's chief scientist, Professor Ove Hoegh Guldberg from the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland said the scientific data gathered would strengthen the understanding about how climate change and other environmental changes are likely to affect ocean ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef.
“The visual nature of the project will also help bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public awareness,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.
“The Catlin Seaview Survey comprises a series of studies which will reveal to the public one of the last frontiers on Earth: the oceans.
“For the first time in history, we have the technology to broadcast the findings and expedition through Google. Millions of people will be able to experience the life, the science and the magic that exists under the surface of our oceans. This project is very exciting.”
Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said the survey was not just another scientific expedition; it aimed to capture the public's imagination and engage people with the science like never before.
The Catlin Seaview Survey camera, developed specifically for the expedition, will capture thousands of 360-degree underwater panoramas. When stitched together, these will allow people to choose a location, dip underwater and go for a virtual dive at all of the locations visited by the expedition.
Google is collaborating with the Catlin Seaview Survey and is working on a new feature on Panoramio (which links photos to locations), so that the 360-degree panorama images can be uploaded and made available to millions of people worldwide.
This will eventually mean that roughly 50,000 panoramas from the Survey will be accessible on Catlin Seaview Survey in partnership with Google Earth and Google Maps.
The project also will have a dedicated YouTube channel and the ability to broadcast Hangouts on air, which allows people to watch livestreams of the expedition team from the ocean floor.
The Catlin Seaview Survey will include a shallow reef survey, a deep reef survey and a megafauna survey, which combined will provide a baseline assessment of the composition, biodiversity and wellbeing of the Reef. The expedition will launch on the Great Barrier Reef in September 2012.
The Catlin Seaview Survey will comprise three surveys:
1. The Shallow Reef Survey will use a custom-designed underwater vehicle with a 360-degree camera to generate imagery of the reef. In collaboration with The University of Queensland, this will be assessed using image recognition software to enable a rapid visual census of corals, fish and many other organisms at 20 sites across the entire length of the 2300km Great Barrier Reef. This will provide a broad-scale baseline for understanding climate change on coral reefs.
2. The Deep-Water Survey will use diving robots to explore the reef at depths of 30-100 metres. Little is known of this region, yet it may hold some of the secrets of whether or not the coral reefs will survive rapid climate change. Using a combination of high-definition cameras, deep-diving robots and survey equipment, the deep-water component will provide a comprehensive study of the health, composition and biodiversity of the deep-water reefs.
3. The Mega-Fauna Survey team, led by Emmy award-winning cinematographer and shark researcher Richard Fitzpatrick, will study the migratory behaviour of tiger sharks, green turtles and manta rays in response to increasing seawater temperatures. A total of 50 animals will be tracked with satellite tags that continuously monitor their geographic position, temperature and depth. This data can then be compared against oceanographic data to get a better understanding of the animals' behaviour and migrational responses to the warming of the oceans.
The Catlin Seaview Survey is sponsored by Catlin Group Limited, an international insurance and reinsurance company. Stephen Catlin, the founder and chief executive of Catlin Group Limited, said:
“We are sponsoring the Catlin Seaview Survey so that experts obtain objective scientific data they require to make more reliable conclusions about the impact of climate and environmental changes on our oceans and our planet as a whole. The results will be broadcast on a scale never attempted before, so it is an exciting time for science. We're proud to be part of the team leading this pioneering project.”
“As an insurer, Catlin offers our clients protection against many types of risks, so it is natural that we should lead the way in sponsoring research to discover the risks of tomorrow.”
The Catlin Seaview Survey is collaboration between global insurance company Catlin Group Limited, not-for-profit organisation Underwater Earth (project creators) and partner Google.
The content captured through the Catlin Seaview Survey will be added to Google platforms and will also be available on the Catlin Seaview Survey website - www.catlinseaviewsurvey.com.
Poor air quality in Wagga Wagga contributes to ill health, according to a study led by Charles Sturt University (CSU) health researcher, Mr Tony Kolbe.
A team of leading ecologists from the Innovative Research Universities (IRUs) has released a list of the continent’s ten most highly-threatened environments.
The researchers warn that these environments are all at risk of reaching ‘tipping points’ where they may change rapidly and irreversibly into alien landscapes, often dominated by introduced or unfamiliar species.
“Nine of the ten most vulnerable ecosystems in Australia occur here in Queensland. The IRU team has identified and prioritised the key threats to these ecosystems. Unless all parties in the upcoming State election make a commitment to addressing these threats, Queensland faces an irreversible and catastrophic loss to our biodiversity,” says Griffith researcher and School of Environment Head, Professor Hamish McCallum.
“If these ecosystems reach "tipping points", there will be major consequences for our tourism industry, primary industries, and the well-being of the entire Queensland community.
“This needs to be a major issue in the forthcoming election.”
The IRU has published “Protecting Australia’s most endangered landscapes”, ranking landscapes according to the extent of their vulnerability and the scale of threats to them.
The Climate Commission has released a report, The Critical Decade: Tasmanian impacts and opportunities, which warns that changes in Tasmania’s climate will have far-reaching implications for industries including agriculture, tourism, electricity generation, fisheries, as well as for biodiversity and human health.
The Queensland Government has released its Queensland Renewable Energy Plan (QREP) 2012, following a review of the original plan first launched in 2009.
Queensland Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said the plan positions Queensland to leverage up to $8.9 billion in renewable energy investment and deliver 9000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy generation by 2020.
“It will help deliver on our original QREP goals to create up to 3500 new green jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 million tonnes.
“The plan also establishes Queensland’s case as a major competitor for new renewable energy investment, projects and industry growth in Australia.
“For example, the Australian Government's Clean Energy Future Plan includes more than $10 billion in new clean energy funding and targets up to $100 billion in private investment by 2050.
“Substantial opportunities will emerge for Queensland from this national plan. With a strong ongoing program of initiatives and new focus on collaboration and capacity building, QREP 2012 aims to position Queensland as a primary beneficiary.”
Mr Robertson said the state had achieved significant renewable energy success through the original QREP 2009.
“We have increased Queensland’s renewable energy generation capacity 66 per cent from 745 megawatts in 2008 to more than 1235 megawatts today – that’s enough to power roughly 640,000 homes per year.
“We also smashed our 500 megawatt Virtual Solar Power Station target three years early.
“Queensland’s renewable energy industry has attracted around $2.7 billion in total public and private investment and supports more than 1800 jobs.”
Mr Robertson said the Queensland Renewable Energy Plan 2012 will build upon Queensland’s early success with small-scale solar achieved with the help of Bligh Government initiatives like the Solar Bonus Scheme and Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme.
“QREP 2012 seeks to scale up these efforts and accelerate deployment of medium and large scale renewable energy generation projects,” he said.
“We are already co-funding the world’s largest solar integration project at the Kogan Creek power station and have been chosen by the Commonwealth to host the proposed 250 megawatt Solar Dawn solar thermal power project at Chinchilla.
“There are also exciting developments ahead to harness Queensland’s abundance of other renewable energy resources like wind, geothermal, solar thermal and bioenergy.”
QREP 2012 refocuses the Queensland Government’s renewable energy agenda under three key objectives: