Environment

Environment

‘Rolling the dice’: Sydney faces challenging fire season, charts show

The Sydney region will enter spring primed for large bushfires after its third dry winter in a row, with maps showing moisture levels are below those in the run-up to the blazing 2013 season. Moisture levels of trees and other live vegetation for the fortnight up to August 12 show much of the region around Sydney to be dry, particularly to the north-west and in the Blue Mountains. The dry conditions mean it is likely all forested areas in the state will have the start of their dangerous bushfire period brought forward to September 1, the NSW Rural Fire Service said. A bushfire near Springwood in the Blue Mountains in October 2013. Dry conditions this winter have fire experts wary of the coming season.Credit:Dallas Kilponen "It's dry across the Sydney basin," said Rachael Nolan, a fire ecology lecturer at Western Sydney University who compiled the data from satellite imagery. "Our research shows when the live stuff dries out, you're more likely to get the more severe fires..

Environment

Warming climate to stir up more damaging waves as ‘rare event’ nears: research

Waves are forecast to become larger and more powerful and to shift direction if the climate continues to warm at its current rate, with southern Australia among the regions to be hardest hit globally, new research says. The study, led by scientists from Griffith University and published in Nature Climate Change on Tuesday, comes as meteorologists forecast a "quite rare event" later this week as a potentially damaging swell hits eastern Australia. A monster wave in January 2015 that washed a woman off Nobbys breakwall in Newcastle.Credit:Cordelia Troy Using about 150 model simulations, the researchers found about half the world's coastline was "at risk from wave climate change" by the final two decades of this century if greenhouse gas emissions remained at their current "business-as-usual trajectory". The wave changes, driven primarily by strengthening winds "might potentially exacerbate or even exceed in some coastal regions, impacts of future sea-level rise", the paper said...

Environment

‘Quite rare’: Potentially damaging surf to pummel NSW coast this week

Coastal NSW can expect unusually powerful swells late in the week, with hazardous and potentially damaging waves generated by a deep low in the Tasman Sea, the Bureau of Meteorology says. The bureau has issued a warning for gale force winds on Monday for Sydney's closed waters and the Eden Coast, and for strong winds for most of the rest of the NSW coast. Waves crash over the Wollongong breakwall in November 2015. Similar weather might well be on the way for the NSW coast later this week. Credit:Adam McLean While similar conditions are expected on Tuesday, the bureau is likely to raise the alerts to hazardous conditions on Wednesday and for damaging surf on Thursday, Jordan Notara, a forecaster, said. The combination of the deep low and a high pressure system is the source of the big swells. Wave heights for offshore Sydney will approach six metres on Thursday, "quite a rare event, particularly for August", Mr Notara said. Advertisement The record wave recorded for offshore ..

Environment

Call for Australia’s Pacific membership to be suspended over coal

Australia's membership of the Pacific Island Forum should be "urgently reviewed" for possible sanctions or suspension over the Morrison government's pro-coal stance, says Anote Tong, a former president of Kiribati. Prime Minister Scott Morrison's resistance to demands by forum leaders at last week's gathering in Tuvalu for a global ban on new coal-fired power plants and coal mines has also drawn criticism from Rachel Kyte, a special United Nations representative, who described support for the fossil fuel as "reckless and cruel". Welcome mat to go?: Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at the Leaders Retreat during the Pacific Islands Forum last week in Funafuti, Tuvalu.Credit:AAP Mick Tsikas Mr Tong, who has been an advocate for low-lying nations facing catastrophe as sea levels rise, said Fiji was suspended from the forum in 2009 "for not adhering to the rules", and Australia's behaviour was hardly better. "It is supposed to be about the ..

Environment

NSW’s koalas ‘in crisis’ as threats rise on many fronts, inquiry told

Koala populations are facing increased threats across NSW with even the healthiest colonies at risk as critical habitat is destroyed, and the climate grows hotter and drier, a parliamentary inquiry has heard. Among the submissions to the inquiry in Sydney on Friday was an Office of Environment and Heritage document obtained under freedom of information laws. It showed "less than one per cent of identified koala habitat is protected" under new land clearing codes introduced by the Berejiklian government in 2017. Koalas face threats on multiple fronts, including in Sydney's south-west where even the state's healthiest population are facing loss of habitat and humans move in.Credit:Jessica Hromas "Koala populations in NSW are in crisis," said Jack Gough, a researcher at the Nature Conservation Council who obtained the document. "Koalas face a range of pressures – climate change, disease, cars and dogs – but the number one threat is habitat loss and fragmentation." The docume..

Environment

Australia has lost Pacific’s trust on climate change

Prime Minister Scott Morrisons difficult week at the Pacific Islands Forum is only the first of many such diplomatic challenges Australia will face until it gets a comprehensive policy on climate change. Mr Morrison went to the meeting of the 18 island states hoping to counterbalance the growing influence of China in a region that is Australias backyard but instead he spent much of his time fighting over climate change with countries he says are part of Australias “family”. Pacific island leaders were not impressed by Mr Morrisons intransigence in fighting against the inclusion of calls for tougher action on climate change in the final communique. Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, the host country whose low-lying atolls are already being washed away by the effects of climate change, said Mr Morrison was trying to save his economy but he was trying to save his people. Advertisement There was a spat after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Mr Morrison had to “answ..

Environment

Elephant’s ‘bony body’ hidden under costume during Sri Lankan festival

An elephant was put on display at a Sri Lankan festival, but its old, bony frame was covered by a costume, wildlife advocates said. Images of 70-year-old elephant Tikiri's frail frame were shared on Facebook by the Save Elephant Foundation, a charity dedicated to protecting Asian elephants. Tikiri's frail frame was shown on Facebook by the Save Elephant Foundation in Thailand.Credit:Facebook, Save Elephant Foundation Tikiri was from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy and was paraded during the Perahera Festival, one of the oldest Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka held in July and August. "She is one of the 60 elephants who must work in the service of the Perahera Festival in Sri Lanka this year," the foundation wrote. Advertisement "Tikiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for ten consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke. "She walks many kilometers every night so that people will feel blessed during t..

Environment

‘Disdain’: Anger as Broken Hill pipe business case finally released

The justification for the $500 million Broken Hill water pipeline prioritised irrigators and all but ignored the environment, according to the project's business case that has finally been released by the government. The so-called Final Business Case for the Broken Hill Long-Term Water Supply Solution was handed to independent MP Justin Field after multiple "calls for papers" and requests since its proposal in 2016. The business case for the water pipeline linking Broken Hill to the Murray River shows Northern Basin irrigators were to be among the primary beneficiaries.Credit:ABC/Laura Brierley Newton While the report underscored the water security benefits for Broken Hill, it also highlighted how supplying water to the city from the Murray River would free up extraction for irrigators upstream. Instead of tapping the Menindee Lakes, the city has, since March, been drawing water from near Wentworth in the 270-kilometre pipeline. The project would avoid "costs of water embargoe..

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