Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

State Of The Environment: A Nation In The Dark

Ecosystem services are the foundation of sustainable development; without them we'd have no food, shelter or wilderness 'escapes'. We need to better understand them, and how they contribute to our well-being.
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Jul 03, 2008
Australia is not in a position to reliably track changes in its environment caused by climate change and other threats due to a lack of critical 'baseline' data and long-term monitoring programs, according to three experts quoted in the latest issue of Ecos (143, June-July 2008).

Dr Andrew Campbell and Professors Hugh Possingham and Will Steffen believe our intelligence on the state of our terrestrial environment falls well short of standards set by the US and the UK, and will prevent us from making effective management decisions in responding to future environmental threats.

Dr Campbell says Australia has too few botanists, entomologists, vertebrate taxonomists and soil scientists and, surprisingly for the 'marsupial country', one full-time marsupial taxonomist.

Professor Steffen argues we need a coordinated, national approach to environmental monitoring, with water, the carbon cycle and biodiversity the highest priorities.

"We have a world-class national carbon accounting system, but we also need to understand the long-term behaviour of carbon in the environment, to complement carbon flux measurements and satellite assessments of vegetation cover, which are important tools in understanding the processes that drive the terrestrial carbon cycle," he says.

Ecos also looks at the role of solar and other small-scale power technologies in decentralising our power networks. Compared to the inefficient, centralised coal-power grid, a national distributed network that incorporates small on-site power supplies - a kind of 'energy Internet' - will smooth out peaks and troughs and result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Covered in this issue too is the emergence of a movement of young Aboriginals advocating genuine involvement of indigenous people in managing the land - the Indigenous Environment Foundation (IEF).

In recent years, a debate ignited about whether Cape York's rainforests, wetlands, pristine rivers and savannah grasslands should be managed as restricted-access natural heritage sites or handed to the 10,000-strong indigenous communities living on the Cape manage using traditional knowledge.

Shaun Edwards, an IEF founder and member of the Kokoberrin people, says the IEF's aim is to help shape policy and the broader environmental agenda. "We also want to invest in traditional knowledge for the future through conservation, management and research, establishing conservation scholarship programs, and up-skilling youth to protect their cultural knowledge."

Michael Winer from Cape York Institute says: "In the midst of the unprecedented social reform that is occurring in Aboriginal communities all over Australia, it is fundamental to their culture's survival that they are given reasonable prospects of economic sustainability, where they are living."

Other stories in Ecos 143 include:

Green roofs turning cities upside down: As urban density increases, green roof and wall technology provides a way to replace vegetation lost on the ground.

Acacia plantations for sustainable Sarawak forests: Australian forestry science is assisting Malaysian forest authorities to protect Sarawak's rainforest through the development of biodiversity corridors in acacia plantations.

Thoughts on a national sustainability agenda: With the dust settled on the national election, and more recently the 2020 summit, Ecos asked five commentators for their top priorities for a new national sustainability agenda.

Natural assets: Ecosystem services are the foundation of sustainable development; without them we'd have no food, shelter or wilderness 'escapes'. We need to better understand them, and how they contribute to our well-being.

National business leaders call for risk adjustment: With many global indicators of climate change tracking beyond the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's worst case extrapolations, the annual National Business Leaders Forum on Sustainable Development discussed recalibrating risk.

Ecos is Australia's magazine on sustainability.

Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Poor countries should set climate targets: Brazil leader
Tokyo (AFP) July 2, 2008
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has urged developing countries, including his own, to join rich nations in setting targets to reduce emissions blamed for global warming.

  • Australia, Japan, US plan disaster relief exercises
  • AIDS epidemic is disaster like drought, floods for Africa: Red Cross
  • US helicopters lift aid to typhoon-ravaged Philippines
  • Bangladesh steps up earthquake response plans

  • State Of The Environment: A Nation In The Dark
  • Poor countries should set climate targets: Brazil leader
  • Oil shock helps put global warming on G8's back burner
  • New Report Available On Ecosystems And Climate Change

  • ESA Satellite Assesses Damage Of Norway's Largest Fire
  • Bird Watchers And Space Technology Come Together In New Study
  • Ocean Satellite Launch Critical To Australian science
  • GAO Report Reveals Continuing Problems With NPOESS

  • Norwegians fume as new 'climate tax' on fuel takes effect
  • Chinese oil major CNOOC blames supply concerns for price hike
  • Kenya greenlights sugar power project
  • Analysis: Government invests in clean tech

  • Anti-retroviral drug cocktails slash AIDS deaths: study
  • China seals off quake town over epidemic fears: report
  • Epidemics emerge as major threat in China's quake zone: report
  • Bird flu hits southern China: state press

  • Looming Tropical Disaster Needs Urgent Action
  • Extinction risks vastly underestimated: study
  • Passports For Penguins
  • Closing The Gap Between Fish And Land Animals

  • Italy's Berlusconi vows to clean up Naples by mid-July
  • Mayfly-Mimicking Sensor Could be High Tech Canary In The Coal Mine
  • Global waste meeting fails to break impasse: delegate
  • Database Shows Effects Of Acid Rain On Microorganisms In Adirondack Lakes

  • New Map IDs The Core Of The Human Brain
  • Growth hormone might increase life span
  • Scientists Identify New Role For Power Plants In Human Cells
  • Mechanism And Function Of Humor Identified By New Evolutionary Theory

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement