From The Orangutan Project: On Wednesday 9 November members of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in East Kalimantan rescued a tiny baby orangutan from East Kutai district in East Kalimantan. They handed the infant over to the Bornean Orangutan Rescue Alliance (BORA) so she could receive urgent medical care in the BORA Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.
This short documentary shows the problems that birds face in the US, but they face the same problems in Australia. The current push by powerful property developers, niched in our government, will remove more habitat for the birds where most of us live. Birds Australia's report, The State of Australia's Birds 2015, showed shorebirds in steep decline, and that our familiar friends, magpies, kookaburras, and willy-wagtails, are now struggling.
By Brian McGavin, UK-based writer and analyst. 2013
Burning the candle at both ends
Today there is a ‘Silent Crisis’ in our midst. The crisis, still largely unrecognised, is potentially greater than all the other problems that transfix our policy makers.
For many decades now there has been a wilful blindness in recognising that relentless human population growth is one of the pre-eminent problems we face. A problem that is driving the astonishing growth of fossil fuel use and its depletion, climate warming, bio-diversity loss, the growing shortage of fresh water to meet human needs - and as a consequence of these changes - the prospect that agriculture will be unable to produce enough food to feed us.
Our children our facing a hugely challenging future. We are already feeling the changes – declining real wages, soaring commodity and energy prices, growing infra-structure pressures and overcrowding, driven by unsustainable population growth. Add to this a now faltering global economy based on the impossibility of endless growth and debt, with politicians throwing billions in taxpayers' money around to feed ‘business as usual’. This will need to be radically rethought to keep our complex society functioning.
In most countries today existing populations are not living environmentally sustainably, yet even if the UN’s assumption of birth-rate decline in developing countries happens, global population will rise to over 9.6 billion by 2050. Less reported is that if current birth rates persist, the United Nations Population Division warned in October 2011, that the world's population could more than double to over 15 billion in the lifetime of many people alive today.
In Africa, the UN admits that it won’t meet key Millennium Development Goals. Many countries in Africa already have massive unemployment and not enough food. How will they provide all the schools, jobs, hospitals and food to sustain populations that are set to more than double and in some cases triple in size in less than 40 years?
Governments will be struggling with millions of unemployed and hungry people attracted to violence and extremism. Look at the problems already in our news in countries like Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Yemen, Egypt and Afghanistan – all countries on food aid, with exploding populations and increasingly scarce resources, who export surplus people to North America, Europe and Australia – yet population growth is barely mentioned!
In a few years, we face major oil energy decline as global demand outstrips supply.
A huge problem is most alternative energy sources are poor net energy performers.
Professor John Beddington, former UK Chief Scientist, warned in March 2009 that: “Our food reserves are at a 50-year low, but by 2030 we need to be producing 50% more food, we will need 50% more energy, and 30% more fresh water. They are dramatic problems, and they are all intimately connected.”
You can try reducing consumption all you want, but when you keep adding 100 million and another 100 million, you simply drive every human to a lower and lower standard of living. You cannot escape that reality.
Saving the planet and greenwash
Most environmental organisations tell us that ‘if only we each reduced our environmental demand, population growth would not be a problem’. But our economic system based on growth is driving us in the opposite direction. Even if all the efficiency and renewable alternatives could be implemented the savings would be quickly wasted if populations continue to grow.
Demographic impacts were discussed sensibly back in the 1970s but since then a combination of political blindness and political correctness, an alliance of ill-informed religious dogmatists and an economic doctrine of 'out with limits', has undermined common sense and political backbone.
Climate change is heard, but many people, not least politicians, are in profound ignorance of the huge challenges we now face, nearly all linked to the relentless rise in human numbers and diminishing resources. Aiding and abetting this is a celebrity and sport obsessed media that cheers endless growth to prosperity and drowns out wider coverage on key issues impacting on our future.
Why would we think it better to create energy shortages, resource shortages, lowered quality of life, a housing crisis, lowered standard of living, more air pollution, grid-locked traffic, bio-diversity loss, and many more calamities caused by ever increasing population pressures?
If governments won’t talk population, then they are not serious about cutting emissions, managing the water supply, managing food supplies, and a secure quality of life for our people.
It is not a question of ‘either or’ and who needs to act. We are in this together. Rich nations are consuming too much and populations continue to rise. Legitimate aspirations to raise living standards in high population countries like China and India are consuming ever-more resources. In many developing countries with acute water and food shortages, populations are projected to double or triple in size within 40 years – driving social unrest and migration on a massive scale.
There are several key challenges we have to talk about and face. In particular, ensuring development aid from donor countries delivers fully accessible and properly funded reproductive health care for all, along with equal access to education for girls and women. In many countries there are still barriers to this. We also have to start incentivising welfare systems to encourage fewer births rather than more and aim for balanced migration.
Some people believe they have a right to have as many children as they want, whether they can look after them or not and fail to understand or just ignore the consequences of growing populations. Many commentators wilfully promote an ever-larger population in the name of freedom of choice and growth. There will be precious little choice left if we go on multiplying with no thought for the future.
Others claim their religion for actions that impact on others: Have large families "in the name of God" ; Over-consuming resources? "God will provide” - so we don't need to think about the consequences; and when the day of reckoning and collapse arrives - "It is God's will" – an opt-out from moral responsibility.
We have higher intellect to understand the consequences of our actions. Do we plan for a secure and better life or do we carry on blindly toward a minefield of lethal limits?
Rights come with responsibilities. Society has a right to expect its citizens to act in ways that do not endanger others. We still have a choice. The world badly needs a grown-up, rational discussion on population - without blame, abuse and hysteria.
Our children will not thank us for being driven to an abyss.
International Biodiversity Day May 22
Humans are appropriating too much water for their own needs and not leaving enough for the survival of other species, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says that water is essential for all life, not just for humans.
“The more water that is taken from rivers and aquifers to supply humans for domestic use, industry and agriculture, the less there is for the myriad of other organisms,” says Ms Goldie.
“Habitat loss or fragmentation, introduced exotic species and diseases, overfishing, and deterioration of aquatic environments due to eutrophication are all threats to inland aquatic biodiversity,” says Ms Goldie.
“Both the world and Australia are suffering a biodiversity crisis. In New South Wales, for instance, the Macquarie Perch, once widespread throughout Australian rivers, has disappeared from the Lachlan River except in one tributary. In a few short years the introduced species, Red Fin, has annihilated not only the perch but possibly also the Yellow Spotted Bell Frog.
“Climate change – an outcome of human activities - is an additional threat to Australia’s biodiversity. Large parts of the country will be desertified while other parts subject to extreme flooding. The effect on biodiversity is likely to be dire,” says Ms Goldie.
There are 7.1 billion humans on the Earth and it is likely there will be at least another two billion mid-century, mostly in developing countries, many of which are already experiencing water stress (when annual water supplies fall below 1,700 cubic metres per person) or scarcity (when annual water supplies fall below 1,000 cubic metres per person). All Arab countries are deemed water scarce; likewise 300 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“As still expanding populations take whatever water is available to grow food, other species will suffer. In parts of China, for instance, excessive pumping of groundwater for agriculture has caused trees to die, taking associated fauna with them.”
Ms Goldie says that for the sake of biodiversity, population growth must end.
As human overpopulation in Victoria Australia fuels new sprawling suburbs, kangaroos are being continually deprived of habitat and pushed out into roads. There is an ongoing pantomime to pretend that it is not the human population, but the kangaroo population that is making new impositions on the environment. Culls are called for and, not unexpectedly, country MPs are trying to win votes from the fringes by calling for a commercial kangaroo meat processing industry. Maryland Wilson, President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Counsel, has leapt into the breach to defend kangaroos. Among other things she has said that it is inappropriate for the Minister for Agriculture to make decisions affecting wildlife. She has also repeated her call for wildlife corridors.
Nationals MP Mr O'Brien has asked Minister Peter Walsh (Agriculture and Food Security) to consider a proposal to use kangaroo meat commercially from 'culls' in Victoria. Victoria is currently undergoing government engineered human population growth to such an extent that kangaroos are being pushed out of their habitats by new suburbs and onto new roads. Victorians often find this shocking and would protest so the government tries to get rid of the kangaroos with so-called humane culls before their dreadful plight becomes obvious to those moving into the new suburbs. The human population pressure is mostly caused by mass immigration, which now accounts for well over half of all population growth in Australia.
"This is 2013, not 1788," says AWPC's Maryland Wilson
On 23 February, Maryland Wilson, President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, said that Mr O'Brien was behaving as if it was 1788 (the year of Australia's settlement by the British) rather than 2013. She implied that in Victoria there is an attitude of "If it moves SHOOT it and if it doesn’t chop it down."
"This is 2013 Sir, not 1788 and we must establish interconnecting linking wildlife corridors for remaining native species to survive," said President Wilson.
She added that, "Alarmingly, no one knows how many kangaroos there are in Victoria- NO ONE!" And she asked, "Should that not be a starting point before [the Minister allowed or condoned] any industry or farmers to profit from their demise?"
She said, "Farmers must act responsibly, as must Councils/Shires like the South Grampians Shire who for years have been pushing this barrow [of commercial harvesting of kangaroos].
Kangaroos are not an agricultural product; they are wildlife with intrinsic value
She pointed to issues of cruelty and of gene pool depletion. She also warned that there was a "lack of meat hygiene as kangaroos are killed in the outback NOT abattoirs."
Finally, she asked why the Minister for Agriculture would be making such decisions when kangaroos are not an agricultural product. Her implication was, of course, that a department with responsibilities for wildlife should involved here.
The Greens are expected to oppose any move to lift commercial bans, with Victorian Leader Greg Barber stating that it wouldn't work in practice. "It's cruel, it's wasteful, and it wouldn't pass the food safety rules other farmers have to comply with," Mr Barber has said.
Tony Burke had no legal obligation to even consider the threatened koalas in Leard forest for the Maules Creek and Boggabri approval. New loopholes could see developers and miners determining if koalas are under threat.
Federal documents obtained by the ABC unveiled on 13 February that the Federal government is endeavouring to make it even easier for miners and developers to avoid protecting koalas.
This comes as Federal Minister Tony Burke approves the Maules Creek and Boggabri open cut coal mines in Leard forest, despite never considering the impacts to koalas.
"The thousands of hectares of Leard State forest to be destroyed by the open cut coal mines are teeming with koalas, however they are offered absolutely no protection by the 2012 addition of the koala to the federal threatened species list," said Naomi Hogan of The Wilderness Society.
Tony Burke had no legal obligation to even consider the hundreds of Koalas that will certainly die as a result of the Boggabri and Maules Creek open cut coal mines in Leard forest. The Maules Creek and Boggabri open coal mining applications were lodged before the koala became a federally listed threatened species, so the Federal government isn't obliged to even consider the koala's plight. The koalas in Leard forest now face a slash and burn future. In essence, the federal koala protection law is useless to the koalas facing a forest wipe out by the Maules Creek and Boggabri open cut approvals."
This date discrepancy is just one of many loopholes in our Federal environmental protection law.
On 13 February it was revealed by the ABC that under the leaked draft federal guidelines, the applicant seeking to develop an area must establish for themselves if an area has koalas and if their proposed activity will have an impact on the habitat. The guidelines to not include any koala maps nor a requirement for long term koala surveys.
"No developer, no mining company can be trusted to undertake their own assessments of threatened species. Mining companies are driven by their legal requirement to make money, not to protect our threatened koalas. I have no doubt that many mining companies would rather see koalas dead than have them interrupting with their profits," said Ms Hogan.
Media Release 13 February 2013 from The Wilderness Society
Four scientists at the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens have won important research funding to study cycads, marine algaes, Australian mints and a carnivorous bladderwort plant. Cycads, the descendants of the giant ferns we associate with dinosaurs are now menaced by human population growth, expansion and activities in Australia and elsewhere. Dr Oliver Sachs made cycads famous in The Island of the Colorblind, in his study of one species' association with a fatal neurological disease that became a leading cause of death in Guam, but world-wide and in Australia, cycads need humans to start caring about them.
Four young scientists based at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden have won awards worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in major science grants for their work on cycads, marine algaes, Australian mints and the prey-capture mechanisms of carnivorous bladderworts. The scientists are Dr Nagalingum, Dr Trevor Wilson, Yola Metti, and Dr Richard Jobson.
Their work is in collaboration with Dr Alan Miller, Dr Barry Conn (Royal Botanical Gardens and Domain Trust) and Dr Murray Henwood (University of Sydney).
Dr Nagalingum and Australian Cycads
Dr Nagalingum (pictured above and at end of article) has won a prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship for her work in cycad conservation genetics in overseas laboratories. Cycads are listed as the most endangered plants and most likely victims of a mass extinction caused by humans. There are studies for the cycads of Tonga, Japan, Guan and Fiji, but information about Australian cycads is very limited. Dr Nagalingum intends to develop skills for cycad conservation here. She wants to use her knowledge to inspire young people to become scientists and to train younger scientists, as well as to raise awareness of the problem of cycad conservation. (More about cycads and Dr Nagalingum at end of article.)
As well as Dr Nagalingum’s significant achievement, three of the youngest new scientists based at the National Herbarium of NSW at the Royal Botanic Garden have brought in over $500,000 through the highly competitive Australian Biological Research Study (ABRS) grant scheme – including salaries for two three-year postdoctoral positions.
“The funding goes towards three projects that will help the NSW Government and the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust (RBG&DT) meet our goals to contribute to understanding and conserving Australian plant biodiversity and as these grants are highly competitive, success indicates how well regarded these workers are nationally,” commented Ms Parker, the NSW Environment minister.
Yola Metti and marine algae
For one project Yola Metti, in collaboration with Dr Alan Miller, will investigate the Laurencia complex - a group of common red algae or seaweeds.
These seaweeds are very important in near coastal ecosystems in temperate and tropical parts of the world and provide food, oxygen and shelter to a vast array of organisms including fish and worms. The group of algae contains approximately 170 known species and Australia is a major centre of diversity with 61 identified species.
The coastline along the bottom half of Australia, including most of the New South Wales coast, is the world’s most diverse algae zone – making us custodians to all this diversity.
“Our fisheries and natural ecosystems wouldn’t survive without it,” the Minister noted.
“This important three year study by Yola Metti and Alan, in collaboration with many overseas workers, could lead to doubling or tripling the number of known species and will make an important contribution to our knowledge of Australia’s marine flora biodiversity.”
Dr Trevor Wilson and Australian mints
The second ABRS grant awarded is for a three year study of Australian native mints. Dr Trevor Wilson, the principle investigator will work in collaboration with Dr Barry Conn (RBG&DT) and Dr Murray Henwood (University of Sydney) to undertake the country’s first rigorous comprehensive revision of the subfamily Prostatantheroideae (Lamiaceae, the mint family). The mint family, which also includes herbs such as oregano, is particularly diverse in Australia.
Dr Richard Jobson and the Carnivorous bladderwort
The third ABRS grant was received by Dr Richard Jobson. In this three year project he will study all 62 Australian species of the carnivorous bladderwort genus Utricularia.
Dr Jobson said a well resolved phylogeny will shed light on the evolution of the carnivorous suction bladder-traps that are possessed by all species.
“These extraordinary modified leaves have evolved for capture of small aquatic prey, thereby sustaining the plants in nutrient deficient habitats,” Dr Jobson said.
Cycads and the dinosaurs, Cycads and us
Many of us picture cycads as giant ferney backdrops for dinosaurs. Dr Nagalingum says, "There were cycads back then, but what we have today are not from that era. Most of the ones around at the time of the dinosaurs (64 million years ago) became extinct. We do not know why. The fossil record is lacking . What we study today are from a new suite of species that originated 10-12 million years ago. Like their ancestors, these more recent cycads are often dramatic looking ferney and spikey plants, some of them producing massive cones 50 to 100 cm in size.
Some cycads are also poisonous, producing neurotoxins. Australian aboriginal women found a way to get rid of the toxins and use the plants for food. They used to leave them in dilli bags hanging in a stream for two weeks, after which the toxins leached out. In South America similar practices prepare some cycads for use in tortillas."
Neurologist Oliver Sacks, famed for his investigations of unusual neurological conditions (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, etc.), wrote about his studies in the US island territory of Guam in 1993 of lytico-bodig, a common fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disease there, which causes paralysis, dementia and catatonia. Some believe that lytico-bodig is caused by eating the seeds of cycads or the flesh of bats that concentrate the associated neurotoxin from cycad meals and others believe a virus is implicated. More on this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lytico-Bodig_disease
Cycads have not entirely internalised the process of photosynthesis. They have a symbiotic relationship with photosynthesising cyanobacteria in their roots, which also help them to access nitrogen from the atmosphere. One kind (Welwitschia mirabilis)lives for one hundred years and only produces two leaves. Because cycads grow so very slowly and prefer the tropics, they are greatly menaced by human population growth, economic expansion and industrial activity. Because they prefer tropical to subtropical climates and dislike frost, Australian cycads are concentrated in the North of Australia with some representatives in northern NSW. We do not know how they may respond to climate change but because their circumstances are so fragile we need to do everything we can to promote and protect them.
All three ABRS projects will provide treatments for the Flora of Australia or the Algae of Australia. More detail about these and other award winning scientists at the Royal Botanical Gardens in NSW can be found here: http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome/feature_stories/Outstanding_success?SQ_DESIGN_NAME=printer_friendly
Save the tiger and save man's self-respect. I mean, if we can't save the tiger we aren't much good for anything are we? Cronulla Beach to Barrenjoey Lighthouse Tiger Trek starts Saturday 10th March. The Trekking Tiger is a man in a tiger mask - his identity is unimportant. His main purpose is to draw attention to this vital campaign which recognizes the tiger, a flagship species in the biodiversity crisis. The trekker will be barefoot or wearing thongs in sympathy with the poverty that accompanies human populations that encroach on tiger territory.
Early on Saturday 10 March 2012 The Trekking Tiger (also known as T3) will leave Cronulla Beach on the coastal south of Sydney, Australia on a trek of close to 90 kilometres finishing at the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, the coastal northern tip of the city.
The trek will be attempted in one long push (with some possible beach power naps!) to draw attention to the BAN TIGER TRADE petition which is part of the global TigerTime campaign run by the UK based David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.
“TigerTime, the global campaign from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is currently gaining thousands of signatures on its petition to put an end to the tiger trade www.bantigertrade.com. 100,000 signatures are needed for the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in United Kingdom to accept it on the 13th March. Please help us by signing the petition and spreading the word. For more information, please see our website #10;<h3>About The Trekking Tiger (T3): </h3> <p>The Trekking Tiger is a man in a tiger mask - his identity is unimportant. His main purpose is to draw attention to this vital campaign which recognizes the tiger, a flagship species in the biodiversity crisis. The Trekking Tiger is also known as T3, a reference to the three extinct sub-species of tiger; the Caspian Tiger, the Java Tiger and the Bali Tiger.</p> <p>T3 is an experienced mountain and jungle endurance trekker. And this challenge will hurt! The T3 concept has been brought forward several months (there will be another trek announcement soon) to link in the petition to be presented to the Chinese Embassy in London in March to ban the tiger trade. Despite the reduced preparation time, T3 will undergo the trek in bare feet on beach sections and thongs (flip flops) on rock and road sections. This is in dedication to the porters of Nepal and other Himalayan areas where very basic footwear is often used while carrying huge loads. This is a poverty driven situation and poverty is a big factor in people turning to poaching, threatening the tiger and much other wildlife. </p> <p>With this in mind T3 requests that so as not to dilute the purpose of the trek, the emphasis in any media contact remains on the campaign and not on the man behind the mask.<br /> <img src=" vspace="3" hspace="3" align="left">
T3 is an entity of WildTiger. More information can be found at www.wildtiger.org and www.facebook.com/TheTrekkingTiger
Contact: [email protected]
See www.tigertime.info for full details of the campaign.
Delightful koala pictures in this film which talks about why we need to speak up for koalas at the upcoming Federal Inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia's koala population.
Federal Inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia's koala population
On 17 November 2010 the Senate referred the following matter to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 1 June 2011, with effect from the first day of sitting of 2011.
See Submissions here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/ec_ctte/koalas/submissions.htm.
Some of the reasons to be worried for koalas
Koalas also get trampled by cows, which are aggressive towards them, so expecting the koalas to travel on foot across paddocks isn't a solution. Everyone needs more trees in Australia but koalas need them most of all.