Tag Archives: Australia

‘Disastrous News’: Widespread Bleaching of Great Barrier Reef Underway

“This is a sure sign that climate change caused by burning coal, oil, and gas is threatening the very existence of our reef,” said one campaigner.

By Andrea Germanos.  Published 3-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Bleached branching coral at Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef. Photo: J. Roff/Wikimedia Commons/CC

An assessment of the Great Barrier Reef’s health released Friday reveals widespread bleaching of the world’s largest coral organism, sparking fresh demands for the Australian government to ditch fossil fuels and finally commit to protecting both the UNESCO site and planetary health.

“While not yet officially declared a mass bleaching event, this is still disastrous news for our reef, the marine life, and communities that rely on its health,” said Dr. Lissa Schindler, Great Barrier Reef campaign manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

The March 18 update from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority suggests a fourth major bleaching event since 2016 is underway and points to warmer than average sea surface temperatures—0.5−2°C above average throughout the park, with some areas ranging 2−4°C above average.

“Bleaching has been detected across the marine park—it is widespread but variable, across multiple regions, ranging in impact from minor to severe,” the assessment states.

“Most observations of bleaching have been of paling or fluorescing,” the update continues, “but several locations have whole colonies bleached white”—a status “consistent with the patterns of heat stress experienced on the reef this summer.”

Of particular note, say reef defenders, is that the widespread bleaching comes during a La Niña year, which can help cool waters.

“This is a sure sign that climate change caused by burning coal, oil, and gas is threatening the very existence of our reef,” declared Greenpeace Australia Pacific climate impacts campaigner Martin Zavan.

According to bleaching expert Prof. Terry Hughes, “Corals on the Great Barrier Reef are not supposed to bleach in cooler La Niña summers. 2022 is a first, thanks to anthropogenic heating.”

Hughes also pointed to the marine park authority’s aerial surveys that “reveal (so far) a footprint of mass bleaching similar to 2017, when the central 500km region was hardest hit.”

“How many more maps will it take to trigger real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?” he asked.

The right-wing government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has faced sustained criticism from climate campaigners for doubling down on fossil fuel projects amid the planetary emergency. The prime minister also drew sharp criticism last year after launching a successful lobbying effort to keep the reef off a list of World Heritage Sites considered “in danger.” Reporting earlier this month that the Australian government pushed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to soften its assessment of the reef being “in crisis” sparked additional criticism.

In a lengthy Twitter thread Friday, Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO David Ritter debunked Morrison’s claims of having protected the reef and pointed to the government’s multiple climate failures.

“Preserving the reef would require clear and meaningful climate action, like a meaningful net-zero plan and a moratorium on new coal, oil, and gas projects,” said Ritter. “Instead, Australia was recently ranked last out of 170 nations for climate action.”

Ritter also noted that last year his group “delivered legal notice directly to Scott Morrison [and] advised he is in breach of his World Heritage Treaty obligations to protect the reef.”

“So, it’s time to cut the crap,” he added. “We know the reef is in danger, but we also know how to protect it.”

Addressing the prime minister, Ritter said, “Do your job to safeguard Australians and our magnificent natural heritage, by speeding up our transition to clean energy and urgently phasing out fossil fuels.”

The update was released just days before UNESCO’s reef monitoring mission begins.

AMCS’s Schindler said that the mission delegates must “witness the severity and widespread nature of this devastating event and while out there the Morrison government should explain to the mission why they continue to approve and cut red tape for fossil fuel projects.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 
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Greenland’s government bans oil drilling, leads indigenous resistance to extractive capitalism

The young indigenous leadership of Múte Bourup Egede is battling for green sovereignty in a time of climate collapse

By Adam Ramsay and Aaron White.  Published 11-10-2021 by openDemocracy

Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Greenland Prime Minister Múte Bourup Egede. Photo: Secretary Antony Blinken/Twitter

 

In 2016, Greenland’s then minister responsible for economic development, Vittus Qujaukitsoq, welcomed the appointment of Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, as US secretary of state. Despite representing the centre-Left party Siumut (Forward) and being surrounded by some of the most visible consequences of the warming world, Qujaukitsoq and his colleagues saw the growing potential for mining and drilling brought by the melting glaciers on the world’s biggest island as an opportunity to bring in the cash which would allow the long-desired independence from Denmark. Continue reading

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‘Complete Attack on Our Democracy’: FEC Rules Foreign Corporations Can Donate to Influence US Elections

“Foreign donors shouldn’t be influencing our elections, no matter whether it’s at the federal, state, or local level, said Rep. Katie Porter.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 11-2-2021

Photo: Ted Eytan/CC

Democracy defenders expressed concern Tuesday in response to new reporting on a Federal Election Commission ruling that affirmed foreign entities—including overseas corporations—can fund U.S. state-level ballot campaigns.

“This is egregious,” tweeted former Ohio congressional candidate Nina Turner. “A complete attack on our democracy.”

Axios reported on the FEC’s 4-2 July ruling that concerned a Montana ballot initiative on hardrock mining regulations and accusations that a Canadian subsidiary of Australian company Sandfire Resources violated federal campaign law by funding a campaign opposed to the measure. Continue reading

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What is COP26? Here’s how global climate negotiations work and what’s expected from the Glasgow summit

U.N. climate summits bring together representatives of almost every country.
UNFCCC

Shelley Inglis, University of Dayton

Over two weeks in November, world leaders and national negotiators will meet in Scotland to discuss what to do about climate change. It’s a complex process that can be hard to make sense of from the outside, but it’s how international law and institutions help solve problems that no single country can fix on its own.

I worked for the United Nations for several years as a law and policy adviser and have been involved in international negotiations. Here’s what’s happening behind closed doors and why people are concerned that COP26 might not meet its goals. Continue reading

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‘Tidal Wave of Rage’: 100,000+ Australian Women March Against Sexual Violence

“Evil thrives in silence,” said survivor and Australian of the Year Grace Tame. “But… it gives me hope because the start of the solution is also quite simple—making noise!”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-15-2021

Women and allies rally in Melbourne, Victoria on March 15, 2021 during Australia’s mutli-day March 4 Justice against sexual violence and gender discrimination. (Photo: Matt Hrkac/Flickr/cc)

Declaring “enough is enough,” over 100,000 Australian women and their allies took to the nation’s streets Sunday and Monday during a nationwide #March4Justice to denounce sexual violence and gender discrimination.

Over 110,000 people in at least 40 cities and towns took part in the demonstrations, according to event organizers. Janine Hendry, the main organizer, told the New York Times that “there are huge numbers of women around the country that have had enough, quite frankly, of their appalling response to sexual assault and harassment.” Continue reading

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Facebook: Genocide is Cool but Don’t Threaten our Profits

“Facebook’s willingness to block credible news sources also stands in sharp distinction to the company’s poor track record in addressing the spread of hateful content and disinformation on the platform.” — Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia

By Alan Macleod  Published 2-19-2021 by MintPress News

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr?CC

Australia’s 18 million Facebook users woke up yesterday to find that, without warning, local and global news sites were unavailable, meaning that they could not view or share news at all. Facebook users across the world were also unable to read or access any Australian news publications. The tech giant had taken the step of essentially shutting down its site and “unfriending” an entire nation in response to the government’s proposals to tax them.

Lawmakers in Canberra had drawn up plans to “level the playing field” between social media giants and the traditional press. In practice, this would mean Facebook and Google handing over a sizable chunk of their advertising profits to the government to subsidize struggling news outlets, on whom they depend for content. Continue reading

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Two-thirds of Earth’s land is on pace to lose water as the climate warms – that’s a problem for people, crops and forests

Cape Town residents queued up for water as the taps nearly ran dry in 2018. Morgana Wingard/Getty Images

Yadu Pokhrel, Michigan State University

The world watched with a sense of dread in 2018 as Cape Town, South Africa, counted down the days until the city would run out of water. The region’s surface reservoirs were going dry amid its worst drought on record, and the public countdown was a plea for help.

By drastically cutting their water use, Cape Town residents and farmers were able to push back “Day Zero” until the rain came, but the close call showed just how precarious water security can be. California also faced severe water restrictions during its recent multiyear drought. And Mexico City is now facing water restrictions after a year with little rain. Continue reading

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One Year After Declaring Climate Emergency, Scientists Say ‘Massive-Scale Mobilization’ Necessary

“Aggressive, transformative change, framed against the backdrop of social justice, can ignite an enormous deployment that will let us avert the worst of the climate emergency.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-7-2021

Global scientists on Wednesday issued a new warming about the need for bold climate action on six key fronts. (Image: Oregon State University/YouTube)

One year after over 11,000 scientists from 153 countries came together to declare a climate emergency and urge ambitious action, the Oregon State University researchers who launched that effort said on Wednesday that an urgent massive-scale mobilization is necessary to address the human-caused global crisis.

Scientists’ renewed call for bold climate policies came just days after a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change warned existing carbon pollution will cause global temperatures to rise about 2.3 degrees Celsius or 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels—with devastating consequences worldwide. Continue reading

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The TPP Was All but Dead, Now DC Think Tanks Are Quietly Urging Biden to Bring It Back

Former officials are practically begging Biden to revisit the controversial trade agreement, arguing that “China must be isolated.“

By Alan Macleod  Published 12-18-2020 by MintPress News.

Photo: Lorena Müller/CC

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was dead and buried. But now, with the imminent arrival of the new Biden administration, many of the most influential policy groups in Washington are quietly trying to resurrect it.

Writing for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), Joshua Eisenman, the organization’s Senior Fellow in China Studies, argues that it is “time to revisit the TPP,” which has now been rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  Last month, China signed a far-reaching trade agreement with most of the countries of south and east Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. For many in Washington, this is a warning sign that the Pacific region is slipping out of U.S. control. Continue reading

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‘Can Anybody Still Deny That We Are Facing a Dramatic Emergency?’ Asks UN Chief at Climate Summit

“If we don’t change course,” he warned, “we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-12-2020

The Orroral Valley Fire viewed from Tuggeranong, Australia on the evening of January 20, 2020. Photo: Nick-D/CC

World leaders aren’t doing enough to address the human-caused climate crisis.

That seemed to be the main message of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ speech on Saturday at the Climate Ambition Summit 2020, hosted by the U.N., the United Kingdom, and France in partnership with Chile and Italy to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement.

“Paris promised to limit temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible. But the commitments made in Paris were far from enough to get there. And even those commitments are not being met,” Guterres said. “Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs. Today, we are 1.2 degrees hotter than before the industrial revolution. If we don’t change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century.” Continue reading

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