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Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate change

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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:10 pm

Real and imminent
extinction risk to whales


Only a few hundred North Atlantic right whales remain

Image

More than 350 scientists and conservationists from 40 countries have signed a letter calling for global action to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction.

They say more than half of all species are of conservation concern, with two on the "knife-edge" of extinction.

Lack of action over polluted and over-exploited seas means that many will be declared extinct within our lifetimes, the letter says.

Even large iconic whales are not safe.

"Let this be a historic moment when realising that whales are in danger sparks a powerful wave of action from everyone: regulators, scientists, politicians and the public to save our oceans," said Mark Simmonds.

The visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol, UK, and senior marine scientist with Humane Society International, has coordinated the letter, which has been signed by experts across the world.

Growing threats

"Save the whales" was a familiar green slogan in the 1970s and 1980s, part of a movement that helped bring an end to commercial whaling.

While stricken populations in most parts of the world have had a chance to recover from organised hunting, they are now facing myriad threats from human actions, including plastic pollution, loss of habitat and prey, climate change and collisions with ships.

By far the biggest threat is becoming accidently captured in fishing equipment and nets, which kills an estimated 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises a year.

Hundreds of scientists have expressed the same concern - that we are moving closer to a number of preventable extinctions. And unless we act now, future generations will be denied the chance to experience these intelligent social and inspiring creatures.

They point to the decline of the North Atlantic right whale, of which only a few hundred individuals remain, and the vaquita, a porpoise found in the Gulf of California, which may be down to the last 10 of its kind.

And they say it is almost inevitable that these two species will follow the Chinese river dolphin down the path to extinction. The dolphin, also known as the baiji, was once a common sight in the Yangtze River but is now thought to have died out.

The letter, which has been signed by experts in the UK, US, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil, among others, points out that these "dramatic" declines could have been avoided, but that the political will has been lacking.

Dr Susan Lieberman of the Wildlife Conservation Society said she signed the letter to help scientists raise these issues more widely.

"It is critical that governments develop, fund, and implement additional needed actions to better protect and save these iconic species - so they don't end going the way of the baiji," she told BBC News.

The scientists say that more than half of the 90 living species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, are of conservation concern, and the trend of acting "too little, too late" must end.

They are calling on countries with whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) in their waters to act to monitor threats and do more to protect them.

Sarah Dolman of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, UK, said accidental capture in fishing gear, known as bycatch, is an issue around UK waters, causing the deaths of thousands of cetaceans and other animals, including seals and birds, a year.

These include harbour porpoises and common dolphins, and increasing numbers of minke and humpback whales off the coast of Scotland.

She said entanglement in fishing nets was a "horrible way to die" with some animals surviving with broken teeth or beaks, or losing their young.

She told BBC News: "We have a long way to go before we can be confident the fish we are eating is not causing bycatch of protected species like whales and dolphins."

The letter is part of a growing movement by scientists and conservationists to raise awareness of the threats faced by whales and their smaller relatives, the dolphins and porpoises.

The matter was discussed in September at a meeting of the scientific conservation committee of the International Whaling Commission, which has a core mission to prevent extinctions.

Members have set up an "extinction initiative" to work out how many extinctions we may be facing and what more we can do to prevent them.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54485407
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:15 pm

Hedgehog deaths in UK
as high as 335,000


Image

The team have been monitoring road crossings, roadkill and use of tunnels

Up to 335,000 hedgehogs are dying each year on UK roads, a study suggests.

The figure represents a three-fold mortality rate on 2016 data, described as "alarming" by a team at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) researchers.

A study in 2016 put the UK road death figure at 100,000 but experts suggested that was a "mid-line estimate".

Researchers said measures such as tunnels and speed bumps "could" protect the animals but ultimately relied on drivers' behaviour to change.

PhD student Lauren Moore led the review, which has been jointly funded by wildlife charity People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and NTU.

Recent estimates put the hedgehog population in England, Wales and Scotland at about one million, compared with 30 million in the 1950s.

Image

"Hedgehog roadkill is sadly a very familiar sight both in the UK and in Europe," Ms Moore said.

The research considered a number of measures to protect the creatures, including speed bumps, road signs and tunnels, but concluded none would be effective without help from drivers.

"Although we know some hedgehogs use road-crossing structures, we don't yet know how effective these solutions are," Ms Moore continued.

"Changing drivers' behaviour has been shown to be difficult to achieve and sustain, reducing the potential for meaningful reductions in roadkill."

She thought the solution may lie in a combination of measures constructed "in carefully chosen locations" close to hedgehog hotspots.

Nida Al-Fulaij, grants manager at PTES, said: "With thousands of hedgehogs killed on UK roads every year, the continuous development of road networks, without any mitigation, puts this already endangered species at even further risk."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-n ... e-54524338
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:32 pm

China steps-up on climate action

China’s President Xi Jinping surprised the global community recently by committing his country to net-zero emissions by 2060. Prior to this announcement, the prospect of becoming “carbon neutral” barely rated a mention in China’s national policies

China currently accounts for about 28% of global carbon emissions – double the US contribution and three times the European Union’s. Meeting the pledge will demand a deep transition of not just China’s energy system, but its entire economy.

Importantly, China’s use of coal, oil and gas must be slashed, and its industrial production stripped of emissions. This will affect demand for Australia’s exports in coming decades.

It remains to be seen whether China’s climate promise is genuine, or simply a ploy to win international favour. But it puts pressure on many other nations – not least Australia – to follow.

Goodbye, fossil fuels

Coal is currently used to generate about 60% of China’s electricity. Coal must be phased out for China to meet its climate target, unless technologies such as carbon-capture and storage become commercially viable.

Natural gas is increasingly used in China for heating and transport, as an alternative to coal and petrol. To achieve carbon neutrality, China must dramatically reduce its gas use.

Electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles must also come to dominate road transport - currently they account for less than 2% of the total fleet.

China must also slash the production of carbon-intensive steel, cement and chemicals, unless they can be powered by renewable electricity or zero-emissions hydrogen. One report suggests meeting the target will mean most of China’s steel is produced using recycled steel, in a process powered by renewable electricity.

Modelling in that report suggests China’s use of iron ore – and the coking coal required to process it into steel – will decrease by 75%. The implications for Australia’s mining industry would be huge; around 80% of our iron ore is exported to China.

It is critically important for Australian industries and policymakers to assess the seriousness of China’s pledge and the likelihood it will be delivered. Investment plans for large mining projects should then be reconsidered accordingly.

Conversely, China’s path towards a carbon neutral economy may open up new export opportunities for Australia, such as “green” hydrogen.

A renewables revolution

Solar and wind currently account for 10% of China’s total power generation. For China to meet the net-zero goal, renewable energy generation would have to ramp up dramatically. This is needed for two reasons: to replace the lost coal-fired power capacity, and to provide the larger electricity needs of transport and heavy industry.

Two factors are likely to reduce energy demand in China in coming years. First, energy efficiency in the building, transport and manufacturing sectors is likely to improve. Second, the economy is moving away from energy- and pollution-intensive production, towards an economy based on services and digital technologies.

It’s in China’s interests to take greater action on climate change. Developing renewable energy helps China build new “green” export industries, secure its energy supplies and improve air and water quality

The global picture

It’s worth considering what factors may have motivated China’s announcement, beyond the desire to do good for the climate.

In recent years, China has been viewed with increasing hostility on the world stage, especially by Western nations. Some commentators have suggested China’s climate pledge is a bid to improve its global image.

The pledge also gives China the high ground over a major antagonist, the US, which under President Donald Trump has walked away from its international obligations on climate action. China’s pledge follows similar ones by the European Union, New Zealand, California and others. It sets an example for other developing nations to follow, and puts pressure on Australia to do the same.

The European Union has also been urging China to take stronger climate action. The fact Xi made the net-zero pledge at a United Nations meeting suggests it was largely targeted at an international, rather than Chinese, audience.

However, the international community will judge China’s pledge on how quickly it can implement specific, measurable short- and mid-term targets for net-zero emissions, and whether it has the policies in place to ensure the goal is delivered by 2060.

Much is resting on China’s next Five Year Plan – a policy blueprint created every five years to steer the economy towards various priorities. The latest plan, covering 2021–25, is being developed. It will be examined closely for measures such as phasing out coal and more ambitious targets for renewables.

Also key is whether the recent rebound of China’s carbon emissions – following a fall from 2013 to 2016 – can be reversed.

Wriggle room

The 2060 commitment is bold, but China may look to leave itself wriggle room in several ways:

    First, Xi declared in his speech that China will “aim to” achieve carbon neutrality, leaving open the option his nation may not meet the target.

    Second, the Paris Agreement states that developed nations should provide financial resources and technological support to help developing countries reduce their emissions. China may make its delivery of the pledge conditional on this support.

    Third, China may seek to game the way carbon neutrality is measured – for example, by insisting it excludes carbon emissions “embodied” in imports and exports. This move is quite likely, given exports account for a significant share of China’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
So for the time being, the world is holding its applause for China’s commitment to carbon neutrality. Like every nation, China will be judged not on its climate promises, but on its delivery.

https://theconversation.com/china-just- ... obal-en-GB
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