Reef restoration

“Scientists try to save coral micro species”
U.S. scientists have launched a project in Puerto Rico designed to save threatened microscopic species. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo recently acquired 12,000 microscopic Elkhorn coral larvae harvested by zoo scientists as part of an international collaborative program to save the species. The researchers hope to return the animals, once they are grown, to their wild ocean habitat.

Zoo reproductive scientist Mary Hagedorn and invertebrate keeper Mike Henley traveled to Puerto Rico last month with to collect and artificially inseminate coral. Hagedorn is pioneering the cyropreservation of coral sperm and eggs, trying to create a genome resource bank that will help preserve the genetic diversity of coral.

“More subway cars slated for reefs”
More than 1,600 old New York City subway cars are destined for the deep where they will make up new artificial reefs off the Atlantic Coast. The MTA this week approved a $6.3 million contract to farm out the aging cars to reef projects off New Jersey, Delaware and other states, Newsday reported Saturday.

Officials say the cavernous cars that once hauled scores of Big Apple strap-hangers provide excellent shelter for young fish and also will make a great destination for recreational divers. The Long Island newspaper said some environmentalists are concerned about asbestos in some of the older cars despite a New Jersey study that concluded this week that cars used to create earlier reefs had minimal environmental impact.

More climate change cynicism

Wired magazine summarises the Washington conference on the issue of climate change succinctly:

Rice delivered her message at a White House-hosted climate change meeting, held just days after the United Nations met to discuss post-Kyoto greenhouse gas restrictions. Bush, predictably, skipped the UN meeting: he’s refused to ratify Kyoto, and won’t accept strict, mandatory climate change measures, even though nearly ever other nation agrees that they’re necessary. Even China and India are ready to negotiate.”(“Condi’s Latest Doublespeak: Fight Climate Change Like Terror” – Wired)

On the topic, it’s interesting to note the selective editing of Rice’s empty rhetoric by the media:

“If we stay on our present path, we face an unacceptable choice: either we sacrifice global growth to secure the health of our planet, or we sacrifice the health of our planet to continue with fossil-fuelled growth.” (“Warm words unconvincing” – Herald Sun)

“If we stay on our present path, we face an unacceptable choice: either we sacrifice global economic growth to secure the health of our planet or we sacrifice the health of our planet to continue with fossil-fuelled growth.” (“US pushes for clearer goals on clean air” – The Australian)

In stark contrast to the full text from the US State Government transcript:

“If we stay on our present path, we face an unacceptable choice: Either we sacrifice global economic growth to secure the health of our planet or we sacrifice the health of our planet to continue with fossil-fueled growth. This is a choice that we must refuse to make. Instead, we must cut the Gordian Knot of fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and economic activity. This current system is no longer sustainable, and we must transcend it entirely through a revolution in energy technology. So our third task is to work with private industry to develop and bring to market new energy technologies that not only pose no risk to economic growth, but can actually accelerate it.” (US State Government

Keep watching for the UN meeting in Bali this December. Over this side of the world, climate ‘shift’ is “no cause for panic” for John Howard (Link) – even the face of food shortages, water restrictions and escalating prices ( Link). In a surprising move, the federal government have comitted to new national “clean energy” goals by 2020 (Link), including solar, wind and clean coal, but also dropped the term “renewable”, potentially paving the way for nuclear energy (Link). The Sydney Morning Herald has already labelled the federal governments climate strategy “a disaster” (link)

Climate-news roundup

Track records speak for themselves: Australian Government on climate change

As I have posted here on Climate Shifts recently, a meeting scheduled in Bali, Indonesia, for December is aimed at jump-starting talks to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. As it was, the Kyoto Protocol was designed as the first of a series of steps to set the world on the pathway toward controlling and eventually reducing emissions (or would have been, if Bush and Howard would have ratified the treaty). Now the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer says that the Australian government is ready to discuss climate change. To quote the Minister, “This is a discussion about what to do post 2012. And we are fully able to participate and to vote.” I guess that sounds a little hollow doesn’t it given track records so far! (Link to ABC Article)

“Sea change in the response to climate change”

“U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a one-day high-level meeting on climate change on Monday was a turning point in the battle against global warming. “What I heard today is a major political commitment for a breakthrough in climate change in Bali,” Ban said. A meeting scheduled in Bali, Indonesia, for December is aimed at jump-starting talks to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to curb climate-warming emissions. “Science has spoken clearly,” Ban said at a final news conference. “Now we need a political answer.” (Link to Reuters Article)

“Climate change biggest security risk”

“Climate change poses this century’s biggest security threat, possibly forcing the migration of millions of people from countries such as China, Australia’s top policeman has warned. Water and food shortages could send waves of migrants across oceans and borders in the Asia-Pacific region, causing social disruption and unrest, said Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty. “The potential security issues are enormous and should not be underestimated.” Even if only some of the predictions of catastrophic change wrought by global warming materialised, “climate change is going to be the security issue of the 21st century,” Keelty said.”(Link to AFP Article)

While Australia fiddles, the world meets.

Sunday will see 150 countries meeting under the UN umbrella – let’s hope that we get more than aspirational targets. Australia government under the APEC banner has continued to be vague on emission targets. Without emission targets, then can be no framework; with no framework, you have no action. And with no action, we will not see Australia’s (or for that purpose the world’s) emissions being reduced any time soon.

Leaders gather ahead of key UN climate summit
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — World leaders were gathering here Sunday for an unprecedented UN summit aimed at whipping up action against climate change. About 150 countries are taking part in Monday’s one-off event, some 80 of them at the level of heads of state and government, United Nations sources said.

The meeting has been called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has declared global warming one of the top priorities of his mandate.

The summit aims at breaking a crippling deadlock in efforts to craft a global treaty on greenhouse gases, but diplomats discounted that it would be a session where leaders would spell out detailed emissions cuts.

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Coral Sea Marine Park

Caspar Henderson over at Coral Bones has been blogging a story that I had previously missed: WWF Australia is calling for the entire Coral Sea region to be declared a marine protected area (read more: ‘Plunder or protect’)

From The Age newspaper:

The campaign to create the world’s largest marine park, to be launched today by the conservation organisation WWF, aims to protect the abundant shark populations and marine diversity of the Coral Sea, which comprises 780,000 square kilometres bordering the Great Barrier Reef.

The area, a new global diving hot-spot now worth more than $11 million a year in tourism, is under threat due to pollution and illegal fishing to satisfy the market for shark fin. (Link)

CO2 emissions could violate EPA ocean-quality standards within decades

In a commentary in the September 25, 2007, issue of the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), a large team of scientists state that human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will alter ocean chemistry to the point where it will violate U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Quality Criteria [1976] by mid-century if emissions are not dramatically curtailed now. This is the first recognition that atmospheric CO2 emissions will cause ocean waters to violate EPA water quality criteria.


The paper also says that carbon-dioxide induced “changes in ocean chemistry within the ranges predicted for the next decades and centuries present significant risks to marine biota” and that “adverse impacts on food webs and key biogeochemical process” would result.


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Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Peter Ridd on Triple J Radio

I was interviewed recently on Triple J radio (an Australian nation-wide radio station) for a current affairs program called “Hack” along with Peter Ridd to discuss the “Great Barrier Reef Swindle” (as I have blogged here before).


Please feel free to leave your comments below – download the entire Hack episode at Triple J, or the edited interview (as above) here at Climate Shifts

“THE HEAT IS ON – Global warming set to hit hard this summer”

“Global warming set to hit hard this summer” – or so predicts the front page of the Courier Mail newspaper this morning. To soon to tell? The Bureau of Meterology has already predicted a warmer spring in the Australian tropics, with 60-70% chance of exceeding the median minimum spring temperatures and a 55-70% chance of exceeding the median maximum spring temperatures.

Article from: The Courier-Mail

Kerrie Sinclair and Michael Madigan

September 18, 2007 12:00am

FOOD prices are about to soar, the national economy hit hard and even a day at the beach could be ruined by the effects of climate change.

Three new sets of research point to the far-reaching implications global warming is set to have on everyday life in Queensland – as early as this summer.

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Corals Added To IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species For First Time

ScienceDaily (2007-09-12)

For the first time in history, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species includes ocean corals in its annual report of wildlife going extinct.

A comprehensive study of marine life sponsored by Conservation International (CI) and implemented jointly with the IUCN (World Conservation Union) used data from the Galapagos-based Charles Darwin Research Station and other regional institutions to conclude that three species of corals unique to the Galapagos Islands could soon disappear forever.

The 2007 IUCN Red List designates two of the corals — Floreana coral (Tubastraea floreana) and Wellington’s solitary coral (Rhizopsammia wellingtoni) — as Critically Endangered, while a third — Polycyathus isabela — is listed as Vulnerable. The Red List also includes 74 Galapagos seaweeds, or macro-algae, with 10 of them receiving the most threatened status of Critically Endangered. Prior to 2007, only one algae species had been included on the Red List.

“There is a common misconception that marine species are not as vulnerable to extinction as land-based species,” said Roger McManus, CI’s vice president for marine programs. “However, we increasingly realize that marine biodiversity is also faced with serious environmental threat, and that there is an urgent need to determine the worldwide extent of these pressures to guide marine conservation practice.”

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