Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)


The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”



"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Banned! New York sends plastic bags packing

Yahoo – AFP, Peter HUTCHISON, February 29, 2020

A shopper with groceries in plastic bags walks in New York's Upper East Side
neighborhood on February 28, 2020, ahead of the statewide ban on plastic
bags (AFP Photo/TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

New York (AFP) - Consumerist mecca New York targets its throwaway culture this weekend with a ban on single-use plastic bags that has been years in the making and is still rare in America.

New Yorkers like to see themselves at the forefront of efforts to save the environment but are used to receiving groceries in free plastic bags, often doubled up to ensure sturdiness.

On Sunday, that will change when New York becomes only the third US state to outlaw the non-biodegradable sacks blamed for choking rivers, littering neighborhoods and suffocating wildlife.

Environmental activists welcome the new law but caution that exemptions will weaken its effect, while some small businesses worry the ban might negatively impact their profits.

At the Westside Market in Manhattan, 66-year-old Janice Vrana, who says she has been shopping with a reusable cloth bag for a decade, is delighted "pervasive" plastic sacks are being banished.

"You could drive over them 500 times with a Mack Truck and they probably wouldn't break down. Whatever little I can do, I do," she told AFP.

Janine Franciosa, a 38-year-old who works in advertising, said it is great people are becoming more aware of how their "everyday purchases are affecting the environment."

But not everyone is happy.

Westside Market manager Ian Joskowitz, 52, told AFP some customers were "upset" because they use free plastic bags as garbage bags.

California and Oregon have statewide bans of plastic bags while Hawaii has a de 
facto ban. Four other states have bans starting soon (AFP Photo/TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Fines

New York uses some 23 billion plastic bags every year, according to the state government.

About 85 percent are thrown away, ending up in landfills, and on streets and beaches, it says.

After several failed attempts, lawmakers finally approved the ban in April 2019.

It bars all retailers who pay state taxes -- such as department stores, supermarkets, neighborhood corner stores and gas stations -- from providing plastic bags to customers.

Violators can expect fines of up to $500, although officials have said they will give stores time to adapt to the new rules.

The ban will "protect our natural resources for future generations," said Governor Andrew Cuomo when he announced the legislation last year.

The law allows New York city and counties to levy a five-cent tax on paper bags, with part of the resulting revenue going to an environmental protection fund.

Kate Kurera, deputy director of Environmental Advocates of New York, says the ban will cause "a tremendous reduction" in plastic waste pollution.

She laments, however, that food takeouts, beloved by the city's 8.6 million inhabitants, are exempt.

Other exemptions include bags for prescription drugs, plastic wrapping for newspapers delivered to subscribers, and bags used solely for non-prepackaged food such as meat and fish.

Kurera wishes the government would make the paper bag fee mandatory to force customers to bring their own carriers, noting that producing paper bags is intensive in terms of oil, fossil fuels and trees used.

A shopper with groceries in plastic bags walks in New York's Upper East Side 
neighborhood on February 28, 2020, ahead of the statewide ban on plastic bags
(AFP Photo/TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

'Live with it!'

"Ideally neither bag is preferable," she told AFP. "Behavior is slower to change when people know they can get a free paper bag."

Greg Biryla, New York state director at the National Federation of Independent Business, says alternatives can cost up to seven times more than plastic bags.

"They are proportionally more burdensome on small businesses who aren't ordering in as big a quantity as their big business counterparts," he told AFP.

California and Oregon have statewide bans of plastic bags while Hawaii has a de facto ban.

Four other states have bans starting soon while Texas has prevented its cities from outlawing plastic bags.

New York is viewed as one of the most innovative cities in the world, but on the issue of plastic it has some catching up to do internationally.

Ubiquitous across the Big Apple are single-use plastic utensils such as cutlery, straws and stirrers, which European Union countries have voted to outlaw by next year.

New York's older residents note that plastic bags only became available in US grocery stores in 1979, signaling how quickly habits can change.

"When I was growing up we brought our own bags," shopper Denise Shaleaon told AFP, adding of the ban: "The New Yorker will have to live with it!"

Friday, February 28, 2020

Shell, Gasunie and Groningen join forces for mega wind and hydrogen plant

DutchNews, February 27, 2020 

An offshore wind farm. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Oil giant Shell, gas group Gasunie and Groningen’s port authority are joining forces to build a massive offshore wind farm and hydrogen plant in the northern province, Dutch media reported on Thursday. 

The plan, dubbed NortH2, will be formally presented on Thursday afternoon but will, the companies say, be one of the ‘biggest renewable energy projects in the world’. 

The project is still at the planning stage and definitive investment decisions still have to be taken. 

A feasibility study will completed at the end of this year but the project will require government support, the Financieele Dagblad said. More partners may also be brought on board. 

The electricity would be brought onshore at Eemshaven where it would be used to produce hydrogen for northern European industry and distributed via Gasunie’s current network. 

The factory will have capacity to produce 800,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year. ‘Green hydrogen, produced via renewable sources such as wind and solar power, is central in the Dutch climate agreement and in the European Green Deal,’ the three companies say. 

Hydrogen is widely used in industry but is currently mainly produced with gas. 

Last October, Groningen hosted a major conference on developing a hydrogen based economy. 

Economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes said at the time the region has everything it needs, including infrastructure (gas pipelines, deep-sea port), the space and the knowledge to make the transition to a hydrogen economy a reality. 

Households 

The offshore wind farm will kick off with production of some three to four gigawatts by 2030, expanding to 10 gigawatts by 2040. This would be enough to supply 12.5 million households, or more than the total number of households in the Netherlands, the project group said. 

Dutch offshore wind farms currently generate just under one gigawatt of power.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Bushfires burned a fifth of Australia's forest: study

Yahoo – AFP, Patrick GALEY, February 24, 2020

Australia's annual average forest loss to wild fires is typically well below 2 percent --
but a study has shown around 21 percent was lost between September and January
(AFP Photo/SAEED KHAN)

Paris (AFP) - Australia's wildfires have destroyed more than a fifth of the country's forests, making the blazes "globally unprecedented" following a years-long drought linked to climate change, researchers said Monday.

Climate scientists are currently examining data from the disaster, which destroyed swathes of southeastern Australia, to determine to what extent they can be attributed to rising temperatures.

In a special edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, Australian researchers examined several other aspects of the blazes, including investigations into their extent and possible causes.

One study showed that between September 2019 and January 2020 around 5.8 million hectares of broadleaf forest were burned in New South Wales and Victoria.

This accounts for roughly 21 percent of the nation's forested area, making this fire season proportionately the most devastating on record.

"Halfway through Spring 2019 we realised that a very large part of the eastern Australian forest could be burned in this single season," Matthias Boer, from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University, Penrith, told AFP.

One study author warned the data almost certainly underestimates the extent of
forest loss as the island state of Tasmania was not covered by the research (AFP 
Photo/PETER PARKS)

"The shock came from realising that this season was off the charts globally in terms of the percentage of the continental section of a forest biome that burned."

Boer said his study almost certainly underestimates the extent of forest loss as the island state of Tasmania was not covered in the data.

Australia's annual average forest loss to wild fires is typically well below 2 percent.

Droughts linked to sea temperature

Another study published Monday looked at the conditions that made the fires so damaging -- a years-long dry spell in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin.

Droughts create more fuel for wildfires and make it harder for forests to recover after each blaze.

Andrew King, from the University of Melbourne, and colleagues looked at a phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which has a direct effect on rainfall levels in Australia and elsewhere.

Since 2017 much of Australia has experienced widespread drought, something the study attributed to a relative lack of negative IOD events -- when there are warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the east Indian Ocean with cooler waters in the west.

Climate scientists are currently examining data from the disaster, which saw swathes 
of southeastern Australia destroyed, to determine to what extent they can be attributed
to rising temperatures (AFP Photo/TOM BANNIGAN)

These events tend to shift weather patterns and typically bring greater rainfall to southeast Australia, and are made less frequent as global sea temperatures warm.

King and the team examined rainfall statistics and found that the winter of 2016 saw extremely heavy precipitation and a corresponding negative IOD event.

Since then, the Murray-Darling Basin has experienced 12 consecutive seasons with below-average rainfall, the longest period on record since 1900.

"With climate change there have been projections that there will be more positive IOD events and fewer negative IOD events," King told AFP.

"This would mean that we'd expect more dry seasons in Australia and possibly worse droughts."

Boer said that climate change was all but certain to make Australia more prone to wildfires and urged the government to strengthen fire readiness measures and "take urgent and effective action on climate change."

Related Articles:


(*)  Kryon explains what is going on with the Weather/Climate Change 
(**) Kryon gives Australia fire suggestions

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Netherlands in EU top three for recycling, says circular economy report

DutchNews, February 21, 2020

Plastic waste awaiting collection in Amstelveen. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The Netherlands is in Europe’s top three for recycling, according to the latest figures published by the Dutch statistics office

A report on the ‘circular economy in the Netherlands’ – looking at the extent to which the country uses raw materials and recycles what it uses – shows that it is apparently improving. 

In 2018 the country consumed around 20% less in materials than in 2000 – including goods that are used in production. On average, each resident used 10,000 kilos of materials in 2018 – however another 21,500 kilos per head were produced, intended for export. 

The report says that the Netherlands’ material use ‘footprint’ is relatively low, partly because it is small and densely populated so less material is needed for infrastructure such as roads. 

The Dutch produce more rubbish per head than the European norm, at 2,500 kilos in 2016, compared with an average 1,800 kilos – partly due to packaging from goods that are imported and then exported, according to the report. 

However, it is third for recycling rates, after Luxemburg and Belgium – sending 1,698kg of rubbish for reuse per head in 2016, the most recent year for which there are comparative figures. 

The government is aiming to build a ‘completely’ circular economy by 2050, in which material is used sparingly, products are designed with reuse in mind and everything possible is recycled.

Monday, February 10, 2020

As nations bicker, a greener future evolves in finance

Yahoo – AFP,  Jitendra JOSHI,February 9, 2020

Analysts believe that green finance could help save the planet and make
money for investors (AFP Photo/Philippe HUGUEN)

London (AFP) - Away from the toxic atmosphere at climate summit talks, in boardrooms, banks and trading houses, a transformation in green finance is under way.

Its backers hope it could profitably help save the planet.

Regardless of the politics of climate change, there is real money to be made today in the exploding market for bonds and other instruments invested in environmentally sustainable projects.

But in the final analysis, uniform regulation derived from collective political action will be vital both for the markets and for the planet itself, observers acknowledge.

Hard-nosed US investors in fields such as solar panels are not necessarily driven by anxiety about global warming, Climate Bonds Initiative chief executive Sean Kidney said.

"Most of them are Republicans for god's sake," he said at a conference on climate finance organised by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London.

"They care only about price," he added, predicting the transition to a low-carbon future would generate $90 trillion investment by 2050 in areas including low-energy cooling, urban farming and greener transport.

Kidney's independent organisation certifies "green bonds" issued by governments, municipalities and companies whose proceeds are devoted to sustainable development.

Notable issuers last month included the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, one of a slew of US cities unwilling to wait on President Donald Trump's climate-sceptic administration as they vie to adapt their creaking infrastructures to a low-carbon future.

Tipping point

The investment community more broadly is running ahead of climate politics, which have been stymied by the refusal of the United States and other major economies to chart a way forward on the 2015 Paris accord.

BlackRock, the world's biggest asset management fund, shook the industry last month by announcing it would transition out of coal-based investments.

"Climate risk has become mainstream (for investors). It does feel we have reached a tipping point," said Nick Anderson, board member of International Financial Reporting Standards, which is crafting new climate guidance for company accountants.

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
 set up a task force on climate-related financial disclosures in 2015 (AFP Photo/
JEFF KOWALSKY)

In 2019, the green bonds market worldwide expanded by more than half to about $258 billion, and further breakneck growth is expected this year, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative.

Departments at major banks in charge of environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters, once a backwater in high finance, now have real teeth as banks get serious about profitable alternative investments and their wider public image.

Environmental finance is "absolutely real and tangible", said Alexandra Basirov, global head of sustainable finance for financial institutions at French bank BNP Paribas.

Banks such as BNP and ING have pioneered lower-interest loans that give greener projects an edge over more carbon-intensive ones.

But Basirov also cautioned at last week's EBRD conference: "Ultimately markets don't operate efficiently without adequate data."

Therein lies the rub for many engaged in the ESG business: how to tally assets at risk from climate change, and how to quantify the risk itself given the array of catastrophic outcomes in store as temperatures rise.

Green for greenbacks

Credit risk agencies have been writing new models that seek to calculate corporate exposure, such as the weight of assets that companies already hold in potentially obsolete carbon investments.

Green investments are already turning into greenbacks for firms, according to James Leaton, vice president for climate risk at Moody's Investors Service.

Sustainable projects show a "lower default rate" because investors see them as more future-proof and creditworthy, he said.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, an initiative launched by former New York mayor and now US presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, aims to rationalise what companies must report to investors on their climate exposure.

In the acronym-heavy field of climate finance, central banks are also getting in on the act.

One initiative derived from the Paris accord is the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), a platform for central bankers to examine the global financial risks of climate change.

A notable holdout has been the US Federal Reserve, hobbled by Trump's vocal objections to climate action. Fed chief Jerome Powell hinted last month that it might soon sign up.

Morgan Despres, head of the NGFS secretariat and deputy chief of the financial stability department at the Banque de France, told AFP that network staffers were in contact with Fed counterparts "on a regular basis".

"Any action does need to be global," he added, echoing environmentalists who say that policymakers must in the end bury their differences and catch up with financiers on climate change.

For investors, the EBRD conference heard that the most meaningful policy action would be for governments to agree a true market price for carbon that properly reflects its climate impact.

"Without carbon pricing, you can only go so far," Eric Usher, head of the UN Environment Programme's finance initiative, said.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Bumble bee numbers tumble with climate change: study

Yahoo – AFP, Marlowe HOOD, February 7, 2020

One-in-six species of bees have gone regionally extinct somewhere in the world
(AFP Photo/Odd ANDERSEN)

Paris (AFP) - Climate change has contributed to a sharp drop in bumble bee populations across North America and Europe in recent decades, scientists said Friday.

Compared to the period 1900-1974, bumble bee numbers across dozens of distinct species dropped, on average, 46 percent during the first 15 years of the 21st century in Canada and the United States.

In Europe, the corresponding decline of the pollinators was 17 percent, they reported in the journal Science.

Many species of bees and other insects are in a downward spiral, previous research has shown.

Nearly half of all insect species worldwide are in decline and a third could disappear altogether by century's end, scientists concluded last year in a landmark study, warning about dire consequences for crop pollination and natural food chains.

But the main drivers of extinction are thought to be habitat loss and pesticide use, and teasing out the possible impact of climate change -- a more recent threat -- "has proven exceptionally challenging," researchers led by Peter Soroye, a biologist at the University of Ottawa, said in the new study.

To get around that problem, the scientists analysed more than half-a-million geo-localised bumble bee sightings mapped onto a 100-km2 grid in each continent.

They analysed population changes over time in each grid and matched those to average increases or decreases in temperature, as well as heat peaks beyond the threshold of bumble bee tolerance.

As expected, areas most affected by global warming showed the most acute declines in bumble bee density, while populations rose in regions that had previously been too cool for the bees to thrive.

But the numbers did not offset each other -- even after taking into account the new bee colonies in cooler climes, total population were way down.

The results, the scientists concluded, "suggest that recent climate change has driven stronger and more widespread bumble bee declines than have been reported previously.

"Climate change-related local extinction among species greatly exceeded those of colonisation, contributing to pronounced bumble bee species decline across both Europe and North America."

Insects are the world's top pollinators -- 75 percent of 115 top global food crops depend on animal pollination, including cocoa, coffee, almonds and cherries, according to the UN.

One-in-six species of bees have gone regionally extinct somewhere in the world.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Wind farm shuts down turbines to protect birds and bats

DutchNews, February 6, 2020 

Photo: DutchNews.nl 

A wind farm in the province of Zeeland is the first to fit a system to switch off turbines automatically to guarantee the safety of nearby birds and bats, Omroep Zeeland reports. 

Wind farm Krammer is situated near the Krammersluizen in the middle of three Natura 2000 protected nature reserves. 

A number of the park’s 34 turbines have been fitted with cameras, microphones and loudspeakers, and mainly cover the area where the rare sea eagle hunts and breeds. 

If the camera spots a sea eagle at a distance of 600 metres the turbine is stopped automatically. The detection system also cuts the power when other birds venture too near, such as cranes, spoonbills and great egrets. 

The wind farm loses between €120,000 and €180,000 a year because of the stoppages. ‘It’s quite a lot of money. But we really want the birds to stay in the area, particularly the sea eagle,’ project manager Gijs van Hout told the broadcaster. 

Not all birds manage to steer clear of the turbine blades but they are not dying in great numbers. The tip of the blades is 60 metres from the ground which means most birds pass underneath, ecologist Roland-Jan Buijs said. ‘But sea eagles mostly look down from higher up and the system was designed for them,’ Buijs explained.

Bats are detected by recording the ultrasonic sounds the animals make. Three such indications of the bat’s presence will stop the turbine until no ultrasonic sound is heard for the duration of 15 minutes. 

It is rare for the park’s turbines to be working simultaneously on any given day and the park is keen to reduce energy loss. It may also employ loudspeakers to keep the birds from coming too close to the blades. 

‘But we are still exploring that possibility. The question is what the effect of the sound will be on the birds which look for food and rest up at the foot of the turbines. If it chases them off we shouldn’t use it,’ Buijs said.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

More farmland goes organic, but the Netherlands still trails in Europe

DutchNews, January 22, 2020 

Organic curly cale being farmed in Noord Holland. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The amount of Dutch farmland devoted to organic fruit, cereals and vegetables grew by 4% last year, according to figures from official regulator Skal. 

In total, the amount of land used for organic farming has doubled in 10 years, and now just over 2,000 of the 50,000 Dutch farming companies are classified as organic. 

Nevertheless, despite the growth, the Netherlands is still trailing in European terms. Just 3.2% of the total amount of cultivated land in the Netherlands is farmed without pesticides and artificial fertiliser, compared with a European average of 7.5%. In Austria almost a quarter of farmland is devoted to organic farming. 

One reason for this, according to Michael Wilde, from organic farming lobby group Bionext, is that the Dutch government does not provide any subsidies for organic farming. 

And one scheme, to help farmers move from traditional to organic farming was scrapped several years ago, Wilde told the Financieele Dagblad.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Right fire for right future: how cultural burning can protect Australia from catastrophic blazes

The Guardian, Lorena Allam, Sat 18 Jan 2020

Traditional knowledge has already reduced bushfires and emissions in the top end, so why isn’t it used more widely?

Kija Rangers conduct prescribed burning in the East Kimberley in 2019.
Photograph: Supplied/Kimberley Land Council

Indigenous fire practitioners have warned that Australia’s bush will regenerate as a “time bomb” prone to catastrophic blazes, and issued a plea to put to use traditional knowledge which is already working across the top end to reduce bushfires and greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a time bomb ticking now because all that canopy has been wiped out,” says Oliver Costello of the national Indigenous Firesticks Alliance.

“A lot of areas will end up regenerating really strongly, but they’ll return in the wrong way. We’ll end up with the wrong species compositions and balance.

 “That’s why we need to get Indigenous fire practices out into the landscape in the coming months, to start to read the country and look at areas that need restoration burning in the short term.”

As Australia comes to terms with this season’s catastrophic fires, Indigenous practitioners like Costello are advocating a return to “cultural burning”.

What is cultural burning?

Small-scale burns at the right times of year and in the right places can minimise the risk of big wildfires in drier times, and are important for the health and regeneration of particular plants and animals.

Different species relate to fire in different ways, Costello explains. Wombats, for example, dig burrows to escape, while koalas climb into the canopy.

“When you understand the fire relationships they have, their own fire culture, then you are really applying the right fire for that culture so that you’re supporting the identity of that place.

“When you do that, you get more productive landscapes, you get healthier plants and animals, you get regeneration, you discourage invasive elements, which are sometimes native species that might belong in the system next door.

“It’s so important to apply that right fire for right country, so you can maintain the right balance.”

Aboriginal rangers and traditional owners conduct burns in the Katiti-Petermann
 Indigenous Protected Area, in the remote desert country near the Western
Australia and Northern Territory border. Photograph: Helen Davidson/The Guardian

Dr David Bowman is a professor of pyrogeography and fire science at the University of Tasmania. Bowman describes Indigenous fire management as “little fires tending the earth affectionately”.

“The affectional is the opposite of mechanical. It’s with emotion. So it can be reverence, affection, fear, a whole range of emotions, but it’s an emotional relationship you have with land using fire to create mosaics and flammable habitat mosaics, which are really good for biodiversity and a really good way of managing fuel load.”

Where is it used in Australia?

In northern Australia, Indigenous land ownership is widespread. Caring for country and ranger programs in protected areas has delivered a degree of autonomy to traditional owners to walk the country, burning according to seasonal need and cultural knowledge.

Indigenous fire management involves “cool” fires in targeted areas during the early dry season, between March and July. The fires burn slowly and in patches.

In the Kimberley, the Land council holds community fire planning meetings throughout the early dry season to ensure the correct people are burning their country.

“Traditional owners are consulted and native title holders design burn lines and fire walk routes,” the KLC acting CEO Tyronne Garstone says.

“These burn lines are approved by the group and Indigenous rangers perform the on-ground work, backed up by modern technology with rangers taking constant weather readings and recording the conditions of the day.

“They work very well at combining the old people’s fire practices with modern techniques.”

Even so, climate change is affecting their ability to do “right way” fire management, Garstone says.

“These ‘right way’ fire days are getting fewer and fire behaviour is changing along the same lines as over east. Late season conditions are also driving more fires in unusual ways due to the climatic conditions we are currently facing.”

Kija Rangers conduct prescribed or ‘cool’ burning in the East Kimberley
in the dry season, 2019. Photograph: Supplied/Kimberley Land Council

How effective is it?

The Darwin centre for bushfire research at Charles Darwin University maps bushfires weekly. Since traditional burning was reintroduced on a large scale, the centre has collected enough data to show that the area of land destroyed by wildfires has more than halved, from 26.5m hectares in 2000, to just 11.5m hectares in 2019.

“We have annual fires up here,” the centre’s research fellow Andrew Edwards says. “Forty per cent of the top end could burn every year. So we had to do something about that.”

“We were originally much more interested in biodiversity, Aboriginal employment and getting people back on country to manage it properly, but when the carbon economy came along we saw a way to manage fire to abate greenhouse gas emissions.

“It was pretty bad before that happened,” Edwards says. “It was just fires running wild across huge tracts of north Australia that nobody was doing anything about.”

Edwards says the top end cooperative model can be adapted to southern conditions.

“That’s what needs to be looked at. Obviously there’s a lot more infrastructure to set up, but it’s collaboration and education.

“If we want to manage our natural environment properly, we need to be doing prescribed burning. There’s so much cultural knowledge out there still, and it’s being totally ignored. There’s hundreds of Indigenous rangers out there now doing this work.”

The Oriners and Sefton Savannah Burning Project creates carbon credits, using
strict scientific methodologies, approved through a rigorous accreditation process
with the Department of Environment, to store carbon in the natural landscape.
Photograph: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia

Will these practices be widely adopted?

In southern Australia, Oliver Costello says, Aboriginal knowledge systems are far less valued but hold important solutions.

The Coag national bushfire management policy includes a commitment to “promote Indigenous Australians’ use of fire”, but Indigenous fire groups like Firesticks Alliance say they need more resources to build capacity.

“There are a lot of policy settings at a high level that support us, but there’s nothing in between. There’re no resources,” Costello says.

“There’s no investment really outside of northern Australia Indigenous fire management of any significance, and they had to build a whole new economy to support it through carbon.

“There’s always investment going into future firefighting capacity, more trucks, more helicopters, more this, more that. What we need is people getting out into the landscape now, with the knowledge to start to heal it.

A small cool burn managed by Indigenous firesticks alliance.
Photograph: Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation/PA

Professor Bowman says it is possible to “blend Aboriginal with European and modern scientific approaches to create an opportunity for all land users and land owners”.

He suggests small-scale local “Green fire” groups modelled on the Landcare program.

“I would like to see a crossover between Indigenous and mainstream fire management groups, where there can be exchange and recognition.

“Because in the end there’s two things which are important to [remember]: all humans have come from a fire management background in their cultures, it’s just that some cultures ended up obliterating that knowledge because of industrialisation.

“We should really prioritise employment of Aboriginal people. But when there’s a gap we could be filling that gap with community groups. And there’s a really good opportunity for Aboriginal people to be involved in training.

“We need to encourage and promote the philosophy of Aboriginal fire practice because that’s going to be a really important pathway for sustainable fire management and also for healing because so many communities have been traumatised and shocked by the scale of the burning.”

Costello says the areas that haven’t burned this time around are now even more vulnerable.

“They are critical parts of the landscape [that need] to be able to support the animals and plants that have survived. And so those areas are going to be under increasing pressure and they’re also at risk of a future fire.

“There was an economy before settlement that supported this, a resource economy based on people looking after the land and having all that they needed.

“Now in the modern society it revolves around money. So we need to build economies that support cultural practice and acknowledge traditional custodianship.

“There’s all this canopy that’s been burnt away. We’ve got knowledge and techniques that can help heal that country in the future. It’s going to take some time. We’ve got probably two or three years before we can really be effective in some of that country because it needs to recover. But if we don’t get in there after that, then we miss our chance.”


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Friday, January 17, 2020

Germany looks to step up coal exit timetable

Yahoo – AFP, Tom BARFIELD, January 16, 2020

Germany is exiting coal far too late, campaigners say (AFP Photo/Ina
FASSBENDER)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Bowing to public pressure on climate change, Germany on Thursday promised to speed up its exit from coal power generation and to pay operators compensation in a strategy instantly rejected by environmental campaigners.

With the announcement that coals could be history by 2035, instead of 2038 as previously planned, "the exit from coal begins now, and it's binding," Environment Minister Svenja Schulze told reporters in Berlin.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and premiers from the states of Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg agreed overnight a "shutdown plan" for the country's power plants using the highly polluting fossil fuel.

The scheme will be written into a draft law set to be presented later this month and ratified by mid-2019.

Meanwhile the government will compensate coal plant operators to the tune of 4.35 billion euros ($4.9 billion) for plants set to fall off the grid in the 2020s alone, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said.

The payouts "will be spread out over the 15 years following the shutdown" and represent an "affordable and in my view good result," Scholz added.

Giant RWE, with its power stations in North Rhine-Westphalia, will take the lion's share at 2.6 billion euros.

But the group complained that was "well below" the 3.5 billion of losses it expects.

Some 3,000 jobs are set to go at the energy firm "in the short term" and 6,000 by 2030, mostly via early retirement, RWE added.

That represents around 60 percent of RWE workers in the especially dirty brown-coal sector and one-quarter of the company's total workforce.

'Too late!'

Plans to wind down coal power by 2038 have been in the air since last year, and the three-year cut to the timetable did not impress environmentalists.

"Exiting coal is not a technical challenge, but a question of political will... 2035 is much too late!" tweeted Ende Gelaende, a protest group that has organised multiple occupations of brown coal mines.

Thursday's deal lays out for the first time in detail which brown coal plants will be shut down when, beginning with one operated by RWE near the massive Garzweiler open-pit mine in western Germany.

The plan also provides for an end to the razing of the ancient Hambach forest, which had been threatened by another open-cast project and became a symbol of the anti-coal movement.

RWE said more than half of its 2.1 billion tonnes of coal reserves would now remain buried.

But environmentalist group BUND complained that the government's scheme pushes more closures back beyond 2030, keeping some plants running longer than previously thought.

New coal plant

Activists also highlighted that the latest plan will still allow a newly-built coal power plant in the Rhineland known as Datteln 4 to begin operation.

"It's simply absurd," tweeted Luisa Neubauer, a leading figure of Germany's "Fridays for Future" protest movement.

In coal-mining regions, the state plans an "adjustment fund" for workers in plants and mines to compensate them until 2043.

And the coal zones will receive 40 billion euros in support by 2038.

The task of quitting coal has been complicated by Merkel's decision to end nuclear power generation by 2022.

At one-third of Germany's electricity supply, the fossil fuel is the main backstop to sometimes intermittent current from renewables during the transition period.

A plan agreed in December under pressure from demonstrators calls for Germany to reduce output of greenhouse gases by 55 percent compared with 1990's levels.

The country has already admitted it will miss an intermediate target for 2020.