NOAA report on climate change impacts in the US released


Earlier this week, the Obama administration released a new summary report described as “a new science report representing a consensus of 13 agencies developed over a year and half and focused on potential climate change impacts on the United States.”

It’s the most comprehensive report to date on the possible impacts of climate change for everyone across America, and begins an important process of redefining the sort of information we need in order to deal with climate change at national and regional scales. Effectively managing our response to a changing climate falls into two general categories:

1)  Implementing measures to limit climate change and therefore avoid many of the impacts discussed in the report. These measures must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and might include increasing our reliance on clean energy, and developing energy efficient technologies

2)  Reducing our vulnerability and increasing our resilience to ongoing climate change in pro-active, community-based ways. Examples of this include such measures as developing more climate-sensitive building codes to keep people out of harm’s way, or planting more drought or heat tolerant crops, for example.

Among the main findings are:
• Heat waves will become more frequent and intense, increasing threats to human health and quality of life.
• Increased heavy downpours will lead to more flooding, waterborne diseases, negative effects on agriculture, and disruptions to energy, water, and transportation systems.
• Rising water temperatures and ocean acidification threaten coral reefs and the rich ecosystems they support. These and other climate-related impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems will have major implications for tourism and fisheries.
• Insect infestations and wildfires are already increasing and are projected to increase further in a warming climate.

See the complete key findings here

NOAA, headed by marine biologist Jane Lubchencho, was the lead agency in compiling the report.

“This report stresses that climate change has immediate and local impacts – it literally affects people in their backyards,” said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “In keeping with our goals, the information in it is accessible and useful to everyone from city planners and national legislators to citizens who want to better understand what climate change means to them. This is an issue that clearly affects everyone.”


One thing I really like about the report is that it is written in fairly simple language and makes nice use of images and graphics to illustrate the points and issues. The report has one of the few easy to understand climate change scenario graphs available to the public (above).  It also highlights who will be affected and who needs information about climate change;
• farmers making crop and livestock decisions, as growing seasons lengthen, insect management becomes more difficult and droughts become more severe
• local officials thinking about zoning decisions, especially along coastal areas
• public health officials developing ways to lessen the impacts of heat waves throughout the country
• water resource officials considering development plans
• business owners as they consider business and investment decisions

The White House has set up a web site with footage from a press conference about the report, links to powerpoint presentations, the report itself, images and graphs, ect. Lots of resources about climate change impacts in user-friendly formats.  Very nice.

Three Really, Really Bad Reasons to Want to Be a Marine Biologist

Because it’s a slow Friday and this was a great read – check out the following piece by the ‘piquant’ Dr Milton Love (who really does exist – check out the ‘Love Lab‘ at the University of California) on why being a marine biologist really ain’t that great:

Reason Number Three: “I want to be a marine biologist because I want to make big bucks.”

Okay, here’s the bottom line. By Federal law, marine biologists have to take a vow of poverty and chastity. Poverty, because you are not going to make squat-j-doodly in this job. Just how squat is the doodly we are talking about? Well, five years after finishing my PhD I was making slightly less than a beginning manager at McDonalds. Ooh, a 36 year old guy with 13 years of college and 5 years of post-doctoral experience making just about as much as a semi-literate 19 year old with pimples the size of Bolivia, who can speak perhaps 3 words at a time before the term “you know” enters the conversation.

Indeed. Read more in Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, direct from the Love Lab, or check out the lab’s blog written by their resident fish, the Cow Cod. In the day and age when scientists are assumed to be revered, it’s great to see someone in a high up position (with a great tattoo none-the-less)  not take themselves too seriously:

Milton Love is a Research Biologist at the Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published simply oodles of scientific papers on the fishes of the Pacific Coast and has written several books on that topic. He thinks he knows more about these fishes than just about anyone. Whether this is true or merely the delusions of an individual with an ego the size Mount Kilamanjaro is still an open question.

Biogeochemists Map Out Carbon Dioxide Emissions In The U.


I stumbled across this great mapping system of CO2 emmisions over at Science Daily. Whilst previous estimates of CO2 levels have been calculated per capita in the US, a new map called ‘Vulcan’ created by biogeochemists at Purdue University shows the top local and regional carbon dioxide producers in high resolution.

In the past, CO2 levels have been calculated based on population, putting the Northeast at the top of the list. Now, a new map called Vulcan reveals for the first time where the top carbon dioxide producers are in the country. The answer surprised Kevin Gurney, Ph.D., a biogeochemist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

“There are a lot more emissions in the Southeast than we previously thought, and a lot of that is because it’s not necessarily associated with where people live directly, but actually where industry and activities are,” said Dr. Gurney.

The high-resolution map shows 100 times more detail than ever before and zooms in to show greenhouse gas sources right down to factories, power plants and even roadways. An animated version of Vulcan reveals huge amounts of greenhouse gas gets blown toward the North Atlantic region.

“We’ve never had a map with this much detail and accuracy that everyone can view online,” Dr. Gurney said. (Read more @ Science Daily)

The official website (“The Vulcan Project“) has an amazing Google Earth interface, where you can map the emissions from US power producers, residential and commercial CO2 emissions at 100km2 local scale resolution. Perhaps the most interesting contrast is the maps of residential CO2 emissions when comparing Republican vs Democrat districts. Given the difference in population density between the US and Australia, it’d be interesting to see someone scale this effort to a continental scale, allowing regional comparisons and perspectives on global carbon budgets.

Overfishing – now in a cineplex nearby


Just thought I’d flag a movie thats just started doing the rounds in cinema theatres in the UK and the U.S (and I’m guessing the DVD-release should follow once its done the festival rounds). “The End of the Line” examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna, tackles the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish and investigates the profound implications of a future world with no fish. It also aims to do for overfishing what the “Inconvenient Truth” did for climate change. Although in all fairness, Ted Danson is no Al Gore. Watching the trailer did get me excited (well that, and depressed in light of the HUGE problems facing global fish stocks) as many of the big name marine ecologists and fisheries biologists dealing with the problem of overexploited fish stocks seem to be involved: Daniel Pauly and Boris Worm to name a few.

Bablelgum has some short, related episodes (and some fun interviews and behind the scenes stuff) that you can watch for free.

A place at the negotiating table?


Fisheries must be included in the ongoing discussions of how the world’s most vulnerable can adapt to climate change. The future consequences for global fisheries are uncertain, but what is certain is that there will be winners and losers, and we can bet the losers will be those who don’t have much already, says a recent policy article published in Nature by Nicholas Dulvy and Edward Allison.

Warmer and more acidic waters could result in decreased fish stocks, altered fish migration routes and loss of important fish spawning grounds. Dulvy and Allison highlight that it is the poorest coastal nations of the world that are most susceptible to climate change effects on aquatic ecosystems. People of these vulnerable countries are highly dependent on fisheries for income and food security, while having limited societal capacity to adapt to the ongoing changes:

African and southeast Asian countries are the most economically vulnerable to climate change impacts on their fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Of the 33 nations identified as being most vulnerable to climate impacts on their fisheries sectors, 19 are among the world’s least developed countries, whose inhabitants are twice as reliant on fish and fisheries for food as those of more developed nations.

The authors plea that aquatic resources, and the people dependent on them, are included in upcoming global climate treaties. More specifically, they offer some policy recommendations. For example, combined targets of emission reductions and sustainable fisheries management could be reached by reducing the overinflated global fishing fleet. Countries doing so could gain carbon credits as this action represents a legitimate mitigation activity. Furthermore, a more flexible and diversified fishing sector, which can adapt to changes in catch composition and stock abundances, should be promoted. Finally, fisheries policies should be integrated into a wider development process. For example, artisinal fishers can be provided with alternative livelihoods that lessen their dependence on fisheries, while the social-ecological resilience of vulnerable fishing communities can be promoted by improving their infrastructure, access to markets and social services.

The never-ending jellyfish joyride


Whilst the media have run with a series of entertaining headlines (“Sea of deadly jelly lurks, scientist warns“, second only to “jellyfish joyride threatens oceans“), University of Queensland scientist Dr Anthony Richardson issued a grave warning as to the future of the worlds oceans (co-inciding with World Oceans Day). Dr Richardson’s research shows convincing evidence that jellyfish aggregations, associated with overfishing of their main predators and increases in nutrient run-off from fertilisers and sewage, are likely to take over large parts of the worlds oceans in the decades to come.

“Small pelagic fish like sardines and pilchards are being fished out in many places and they eat plankton, which is partly made up of juvenile jellyfish,”

“Nutrient run-off on land causes phytoplankton blooms which produce water with low oxygen which jellyfish can survive but fish can’t.

“As well, a warming ocean associated with climate change sees increasing numbers of tiny flagellates in surface waters, and they are a favourite food of some jellyfish.” (Read More)

Amongst the more impressive of these are the giant Nomura jellyfish (over 2m in diameter, weighing over 200kg), which is already causing problems for fisherman in Japan by clogging nets (click through the image above for a higher resolution photograph). Despite the serious topic, I think Dr Richardson is a definite contender for the best paper title of the year (“The jellyfish joyride: causes, consequences and management responses to a more gelatinous future“, with a subsection entitled “Self-enhancing feedback: the never-ending jellyfish joyride“).

Reef Relief: Queensland Government enacts new leglisation on the GBR


In a major step to protecting the inshore reefs of the GBR, the Queensland Government have inacted fairly dramatic legislation on the use of fertilisers and pesticides on farms in the reef catchment. Under the new rules, farmers in the Mackay-Whitsunday, Burdekin Dry Tropics and Far North’s Wet Tropic catchments must keep records on fertiliser usage and apply ‘no more than the optimum amount of fertiliser to their soil’. The use of the pesticides Atrazine, Diuron, Ametryn, Hexazinone or Tebuthiuron are also subject to an array of new rules and regulations.

Although not without controversy, this is great news for the reefs on the GBR. Over 32,000 tonnes of fertiliser (worth $32 million) leaches out into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon every year through overfertilisation on farms. There is strong scientific evidence showing that elevated pesticide and nutrients from the land associated with flood waters induce coral bleaching and mortality during flood years (see here for a great post by Jon Brodie on the subject).

Strict controls on fertilisers and pesticides and close monitoring of large and high-risk farms in north Queensland will help heal the Great Barrier Reef, Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said today.

Ms Jones, introducing the Great Barrier Reef Protection Bill 2009 to State Parliament, said the legislation would reduce the levels of farm chemicals and sediment harming the Reef.

“The Bill will help detox the Great Barrier Reef and give it a fighting chance,” Ms Jones said.

“The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s most treasured possession and is worth nearly $6 billion to our economy, supporting about 63,000 jobs.

“But its health has been deteriorating from a number of factors, including damaging run-off from sugar cane fields and beef cattle farms in Reef catchments.

“We must do all we can to ensure this natural wonder of the world survives long after us and that means minimising man-made harm. This Bill is good for the Reef and it makes good business sense for farmers.

“While many farmers are doing the right thing and have minimised their impact, we must go further than the voluntary approach to get the results we need faster.

“Our Reef is too precious so we have no option but to act now and act decisively.

“The Bligh Government told Queenslanders last election that we would regulate to reduce the amount of fertiliser and pesticides entering the Reef by 50 per cent in four years.

“The Bill makes good on that commitment. It’s backed by strong scientific evidence and it gives the Reef every chance of recovering from the damage inflicted by over-fertilising, toxic pesticides and soil run-off.”(Link to media release)

Question and answer session on the new Great Barrier Reef Protection Amendment Bill


I thought this was well worth posting – a comprehensive ‘who, how, what and why’ answer session by the government that neatly answers most common concerns over the new reef protection amendment.

Question – Who and where will the Great Barrier Reef Protection Amendment Bill 2009 affect? When will regulation and Bill commence and come into effect?

Question: Who will the Great Barrier Reef Protection Amendment Bill 2009 affect?


•    Around 4,500 farmers are likely to be affected.

•    Around 1,000 farmers will initially be required to prepare Environmental Risk Management Plans (ERMPs).

•    The level of regulatory impact on individual farmers can vary considerably depending on the hazards, problems, and management practices on each property.

•    ERMPs will be required for cattle graziers with a property greater than 2,000 hectares in the Burdekin Dry Tropics and sugarcane farmers with properties greater than 70 hectares in the Wet Tropics catchment.

Question: Where does the Great Barrier Reef Protection Amendment Bill 2009 and regulations apply?


•    All cattle grazing of more than 100 ‘standard cattle units’ and all sugarcane farming in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin Dry Tropics, and Mackay Whitsunday catchments.

Question: When will the new regime come into effect?
•    The initially targeted high risk farmers who must prepare and implement an Environmental Risk Management Plan will have nine months in total from 1 January 2010 to submit their ERMP which will be implemented over a number of years depending on their circumstances.
•    If further ‘hot spots’ are identified, farmers and graziers in these areas will be required to submit a Plan within three months of being notified.
•    Farmers will be notified by the Department of Environment and Resource Management either directly, by media advertising or by the Department’s other communications channels.

Question – How will the new regulations improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef?

•    The major threats to the health of the Reef are ocean acidification and coral bleaching due to climate change and reduced water quality due to agricultural pollution.
•    The new threat from climate change means it is now even more critical to reduce the existing damage from land runoff of nutrients, sediments, and pesticides to improve the Reef’s water quality and its resilience to the new impacts of climate change.
•    Reducing all of the threats is essential to a healthy Reef, however regulating agricultural runoff is the most immediate and efficient response to halt the decline of the Reef’s health.
•    Therefore, the new regulation focuses on catchment-scale reduction of water pollution from agriculture to increase the health of the Great Barrier Reef by improving the water quality in our waterways generally.

Question – How do we know that agricultural activities are impacting on the Great Barrier Reef?

•    There is substantial and credible scientific evidence that indicates the Reef’s health is suffering long-term decline from the nutrient, pesticide and sediment runoff from broad-scale agriculture in adjacent river catchments.

•    In 2008, the Scientific Consensus Statement on Water Quality in the Great Barrier Reef was released by 13 leading scientists after reviewing 500 technical papers.

•    It confirmed the presence of sediment, nutrients and pesticides in the Reef—up to 60 km offshore—in amounts that will cause it harm. In catchment waterways these contaminants were found at levels proportional to the land under agriculture—there were more contaminants where there was more agriculture.

•    Also in 2006 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s annual marine monitoring report found high concentrations of the agricultural pesticide, diuron, at many river mouth sites.

•    Peer reviewed science in 2006 by leading Reef scientists documented the marked decline in the richness of coral for 400 kilometres south of Cooktown—right next to the catchments dominated by these industries.

•    We know that new science, recently or about to be published, reiterates the growing problem of pesticides and herbicides in freshwater and marine environments.  A paper published this year by Robert Packett and others indicates serious atrazine contamination in the Reef catchment.

Question – What do farmers need to do under the new regime?


The bill applies to cattle and sugarcane production located in the priority catchments of the Burdekin Dry Tropics, Mackay-Whitsunday and the Wet Tropics.

Cattle grazing and sugarcane growing will now be designated agricultural environmentally relevant activities under the Environmental Protection Act.

What farmers will be required to do under the bill:

•    Record and report as required on such things as use of fertiliser, weed poisons and farming management practices.

•    If applying fertiliser, they must calculate the optimum amount for application using a soil test and other information and not apply more than the optimum amount, so as to prevent over-fertilisation and reduce run-off.

•    Some specified high risk Farmers will need to prepare and implement an ERMP to entrench the adoption of best management practices and continuous improvement.

•    They will need to be aware of the change to the restrictions on the use of key damaging pesticides in the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Regulation 1999.
Great Barrier Reef Protection Amendment Bill 2009

Question – How are you choosing who needs to prepare and keep Environmental Risk Management Plans?


1.    Cattle graziers in the Burdekin Dry Tropics catchment with a property greater than 2000 hectares.


•    This will capture most large-scale and extensive cattle grazing properties that contribute the majority of sediment runoff to the Reef.

•    This property threshold will also ensure that coastal pasture and dairy operations that are considered lower priority contributors to runoff do not initially fall under the requirement.

2.    Sugarcane farmers in the Wet Tropics catchment with property greater than 70 hectares.


•    The average size of sugarcane farms in the Wet Tropics is 60 to 70 hectares which will capture a large proportion of the catchment with proportionately fewer producers, hence allowing the most pollution reduction for the least cost.

•    The Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research report for the State of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef Protection Package states that: ‘The Wet Tropics generates large amounts of harmful nutrient and pesticide runoff from sugarcane that is directly harming the Great Barrier Reef.  Seventy-eight percent of all nitrogen pollution from human activities comes directly from sugarcane in the Wet Tropics.’

Question – How will you make sure farmers are doing the right thing? How will you know they are not keeping wrong records?


•    Farmers’ records, management plans, and chemical and fertiliser use will be audited on risk targeted basis and compliance enforced if necessary.

•    Online advice, tools and forms will be provided free to farmers to help them keep records and improve management practices. This will be supported by ‘how to’ guidance that explains why the information is being collected and what form the records should take.

•    Farmers without access to the internet will be provided with local access to online reporting systems and regional staff.  There will also be training courses available.
•    To save farmers work, the required records will as far as possible align with current automated record keeping systems such as AgDat.  Industry organisations will be invited to help design the tools to ensure the maximum practicality and benefit to farmers and the Reef.

•    There will also be regional reviews where the Department will write to farmers and request their records. This will be risk-based focussing on catchments where poor performance is hindering achievement of Reef Plan targets.

Question – How did the government identify which agricultural chemical to control?

•    Key agricultural chemical products to be restricted are: diuron, atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone and tebuthiuron
•    The herbicide residues most commonly found in Reef’s surface waters are diuron, atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone. They come from areas of sugarcane cultivation.
•    Residues of tebuthiuron come from the use of ‘grassland’ on grazing lands for woody weed control.
•    Strong scientific evidence shows the presence of pesticides in the Great Barrier Reef, which have been detected at harmful concentrations up to 60kilometres offshore during the wet season.
•    A recent report noted that river water plumes entering the Reef contain a profile of diuron, atrazine, and hexazinone residues.  Contrary to general belief, these pesticides were not removed by natural physical or biological progress like mixing or dilution with seawater.
•    The study found that exposure to high diuron concentration for four days will hinder the coral’s ability to produce energy, causing bleaching.

Question – Will there be a cost burden on farmers?

•    The level of regulatory impact on property owners will vary considerably depending on the level of risk to the Reef of the activity and what current management practices are in place.
•    It is expected that the cost of the regulatory measures are likely, in many instances, to be offset by cost savings from increased productivity and reduced input costs.  Those whose risks are greatest will usually have most to gain by reducing the loss of fertiliser and pesticides, which are increasingly expensive.
•    Many farmers are already doing the right things by keeping a management plan, applying the correct level of fertiliser, using pesticides responsibly and taking measures to minimise Reef run-off.  These farmers will not be greatly affected.
•    For example, a cattle grazing operation implementing a land management agreement under the Delbessie arrangement for leasehold land is likely to be able to satisfy relevant requirements for sediment management on grazing lands without significant additional work.
•    Those who have a plan to implement management practices equivalent to an ERMP will not have to duplicate their effort.
•    The cost of record keeping, preparing plans and reporting under the legislation will vary according to the level of risk of the activity.  Low risk activities will only incur small costs and take very little time.
•    Property owners classified ‘low risk’ will not be required to have an ERMP.
•    For a medium level risk activity an ERMP may cost around $3,500 to prepare.
•    Grazing property owners with an ERMP may need to fence erosion hazard areas, provide off-stream watering points and manage vegetation cover to reduce sediment loss. These measures will vary greatly in cost, but may average around $5,000 a year over three years.  There are major economic benefits in applying these improved management practices.
•    However, ERMPs will be flexible to allow for the spread of investment in new practices over a reasonably long period.
•    There is evidence that optimal application of fertiliser possibly using precision farming equipment (possibly costing about $30,000) might save about $3,000 per year in reduced fertiliser costs for each farmer.  Farmers can use contractors to apply fertiliser or share costs of equipment between a number of farmers.
•    A worst case scenario relates to property owners who perform poorly and:
o    have done no training relating to the use of atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone, diuron, and tebuthiuron handling and application
o    have no property plans relating to environmental management
o    use the atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone, diuron, and tebuthiuron across all areas of their operation
o    do not do any soil testing
o    have not implemented practices that minimise environmental impact
o    do not access any subsidy or grants for training or implementation.
•    The upfront cost to such an operator would be approximately $6,000, consisting of: training ($500); soil testing ($320) and preparation of an ERMP ($5,000 assuming a specialist is employed.  For a simple low risk activity, the farmer should be able to prepare the ERMP without paying for assistance, utilising online and other support provided free by the government).
•    The implementation cost would vary depending on the property and costs would need to be traded off against the benefits in productivity and profits as a result of lower input costs and increased yield.

Question – Will the new laws affect food quality?

•    The new laws will not affect food quality.

•    The new laws encourage adoption of better management practices that improve water quality.  It does not require farmers to change practices with respect to production of food that would impact on quality.

•    Food crops will take up the nutrients they need from the soil. Fertiliser that is excess to the crop’s requirements will run off properties to the Reef.

•    The use of atrazine, ametryn, hexazinone, diuron, and tebuthiuron will be restricted in waterways and drainage lines and within certain distances from waterways.  As these are herbicides, there will be no impact on the quality of food.
•     A concern may be around the security of the food generated for local and export markets. The new laws may have some implementation costs for farmers but these costs should be weighed against the benefits in productivity and profits as a result of lower input costs or increased yield. Therefore there should be no impact on security of food supply.

Question – How will we know if Reef run-off has been reduced in four years and the legislation’s objectives have been achieved?

•    There will be a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation program to effectively measure the legislation’s progress towards its targets.
•    Program monitoring and evaluation will focus on identifying what effect the regulation has on the level of land practice change and pollution reduction.
•    This data will be modelled to estimate the likely improvement of the quality of water entering the Reef.
•    Monitoring and evaluation will be done collaboratively between Queensland and Australian Government departments, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and regional groups.
•    Development and design of the monitoring and evaluation program is underway in conjunction with statistical experts. The program will be thoroughly peer reviewed.

Question – What else are Governments doing to protect the Reef?


•    Since the commencement of Reef Plan in 2003, the Queensland Government has invested about $125 million on natural resource management in Reef catchments, including reef water quality related projects.
•    This is an investment in the health of the entire catchment that is ultimately essential to a healthy reef ecosystem.
•    Earlier this year, the Queensland Government introduced a moratorium on the clearing all native re-growth vegetation within 50 metres of identified watercourses in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay/Whitsunday.
•    The Delbessie land management agreement between rural leaseholders and the Government commenced in 2008 offering extended leases to landholders in Reef catchments who improve the condition of their land.
•    Water Quality Improvement Plans are being completed by regional natural resource management groups to identify regional targets for water quality improvement and the management actions needed to reach those targets in specified timeframes.
•    Under the Reef Plan, nutrient management zones were identified to focus water quality investments on the critical ‘hot spots’.
•    The Australian Government’s out a $200 million Reef Rescue Plan which is supporting farmers, regional groups and industry groups to help make management practice change to protect the Reef.
How the programs fit together

•    The Australian Government’s Reef Rescue program will deliver an immediate improvement in management practices. This will be locked in for the long term by the Queensland Government’s regulatory package through its extension support services and regulatory measures.

•    The key issue is the need to significantly reduce pollutant loads of up to 90,000 tonnes year of nutrient mainly from cane farming and up to 66 million tonnes of sediment mainly from cattle grazing.

•    The targets announced as part of the Reef Protection Package by the Queensland Government in 2009 aim is to reduce nutrient and pesticides by 50 percent in four years.

•    Achieving Reef Plan targets will require the permanent adoption of management practices, compatible with Reef health, by farmers of about 80 per cent of cane land and over half of cattle grazing land.  It is likely that less than 10 per cent of this land is currently managed at the necessary standard.

•    While it will be impossible to determine the individual contribution to water quality improvement from any program, the outcome will be better, faster and more permanent with both programs operating together in harmony.

•    This is because Reef Rescue grants mainly help farmers to purchase equipment while the regulation ensures equipment is used to achieve the required outcome and continues to be used and replaced when it depreciates. It locks in the benefits of Reef Rescue for the long term and prevents the waste of the Reef Rescue investment.

•    Furthermore, the regulation is performance based so it drives innovation and continuous improvement, further reducing the call on Commonwealth resources for future Reef protection.

‘Reef beef’ – Great Barrier Reef pesticide controls anger farmers


Conservationists are anticipating a victory in their long running battle with farmers over the effects of runoffs from pesticides and fertilisers on the Great Barrier Reef.

Legislation has been introduced into the Queensland Parliament that would restrict farmers’ use of the chemicals. Failure to comply could trigger a $30,000 fine.

But farmers say there’s no proven links to coral bleaching and infestations of the crown of thorns starfish, and it’s just part of Green preference deals.

(Link to ABC Radio, click below for audio)


Paul Gilding: “Don’t sweat the small stuff, Copenhagen is just a training exercise”


Paul Gilding, a climate change activist and independent writer has published an astonishing piece on his blog (‘The Cockatoo Chronicles‘) on why we shouldn’t worry too much about the outcome at Copenhagen Conference in December this year:

Now the world is slowly waking up to the climate threat, passionate debates are raging around the world on climate policy – cap and trade systems vs taxes, renewables vs coal with CCS and global agreements vs national action. From the US, to China, from South Africa to Australia, policy makers are examining their options and vested interests are furiously protecting their turf.

As recently as a year ago I would have been deeply engaged by these debates, deeply concerned that we got the right reduction target, the right policy mechanism, the right strategy in place. Now I find myself watching with an almost surreal detachment, observing with interest but rarely getting excited or disappointed as the debate swings this way or that.


This is all just shadow boxing, the training session before the game really begins. What happens this year and next, even at the Copenhagen conference is of marginal significance only. What? That’s heresy! Isn’t the Copenhagen Climate conference the most critical global meeting in history, the one that will determine the future of civilisation? No, not really. Here’s why.

(Read More)