all OECD countries to commit to phasing out coal by 2030, and for non-OECD countries to do so by 2040. Science tells us this is essential to meet the Paris Agreement goals and protect future generations.
Shamefully, Australia has one of the highest extinction rates in the world. And the number one threat to our species is invasive or “alien” plants and animals.
But invasive species don’t just cause extinctions and biodiversity loss – they also create a serious economic burden. Our research, published today, reveals invasive species have cost the Australian economy at least A$390 billion in the last 60 years alone.
Our paper – the most detailed assessment of its type ever published in this country – also reveals feral cats are the worst invasive species in terms of total costs, followed by rabbits and fire ants.
Here is how they stack up:
It depends where you are:
Red imported fire ants are the costliest species in Queensland, and ragwort is the economic bane of Tasmania.
The common heliotrope is the costliest species in both South Australia and Victoria, and annual ryegrass tops the list in WA.
In the Northern Territory, the dothideomycete fungus that causes banana freckle disease brings the greatest economic burden, whereas cats and foxes are the costliest species in the ACT and NSW.
2. Humans are the biggest pest
I remember on our trip down the Rhine in 2008 a tour guide explaining that in Europe ‘nature’ had been mostly pushed into the mountains. Last week Gigi Forster and Peter Martin in the ABC RN program The Economists talk about Valuing nature, which economists mostly don’t. They tell us that humans and their domestic animals make up 96% of mammals on earth, with natural mammals squeezing into just 4%. Apparently domestic fowls make up 70% of the bird population. In the program:
A landmark report has urged the world’s governments to come up with a better form of national accounting from GDP, to reflect the value and depletion of nature. Plus, an update on carbon markets and the emerging field of biodiversity offsets.
“What we found is that 41 per cent on average of all insect species that we know are declining,” said Dr Sanchez-Bayo.
“Among those, a third of all the species are going into extinction. They’re in danger right now. The rate of extinction in insects is about eight times higher than the rate of extinction of vertebrates.”
Most of the studies surveyed were form the US and Western Europe:
One study, in Germany, saw a 75 per cent decline in insect biomass over 27 years. Another study in Puerto Rico reported losses of between 78 and 98 per cent over 36 years.
The rates of decline are so dramatic — up to 2.5 per cent a year — that Dr Sanchez-Bayo claims that at current rates there may be no insects in those regions within 10 years.
4. There is another story beneath our feet
For a long time now farmers and landholders have been told that storing carbon in soil was not only a good thing to do, it was something they could make money from by selling carbon credits.
One teaspoon of healthy soil contains more bacteria, fungi and other microbes than there are humans on Earth. Those hungry organisms can make soil a difficult place to store carbon over long periods of time.
It’s a long article, but the short story is that the assumption that carbon molecules stored in soil cam remain there for long periods of time. What we know now is that no such molecules can be found. Everything can be munched, although some do stick around.
Climate modellers apparently ‘simplified’ the issue by leaving microbial activity out. Some scientists are :
pushing to replace the old dichotomy of stable and unstable carbon with a “soil continuum model” of carbon in progressive stages of decomposition. But this model and others like it are far from complete, and at this point, more conceptual than mathematically predictive.
Researchers agree that soil science is in the midst of a classic paradigm shift. What nobody knows is exactly where the field will land — what will be written in the next edition of the textbook.
In short, they are in a muddle.
5. Pests found inside a hill in Canberra
Here it is:
Every week Federal parliament is sitting Tony Burke, leader for the opposition in the house, sends around to party members on his mailing list some pithy comments. Last week he told of one of his constituents, a woman who is 102 and lives in:
Western Sydney, which is the epicentre of the current COVID outbreak. She’s been on the pension for 40 years – and yet the government sent her a letter saying she’d be cut off unless she left the house in the middle of the lockdown zone to present proof of age documents she doesn’t actually have.
Luckily Burke’s office was able to get the matter fixed by Stuart Robert’s office. However, it continues the narrative that there is no blunder beyond the capability of this government. Their fiercest critic however is possibly Dennis Atkins, now retired and liberated from writing for the Courier Mail. He is particularly eloquent about their leader:
Brian and I have agreed to try running some posts as short conversation starters instead of the much longer posts we have both produced in the past.
This conversation post was prompted by “The climate change panic button is coming” by Allan Kohler. It looks at climate change from a financial risk perspective, in particular how the rising number and size of climate change disasters is making is making it harder and harder for the insurance industry to the point where more and more insurance will become unaffordable. Banks will not lend money to projects that cannot be insured.
This post asks you to discuss what might be done to avoid or survive a future of shrinking insurance, shrinking loans and a deteriorating environment.
Too many Australians are struggling to find secure, affordable accommodation in places where they need/want to live. This can be true for those seeking to own a house of their own as well as those seeking rental accommodation.
When Warren Truss was leader of the National Party from 2007 to February 2016, just about no-one in the general public knew who he was. That was one of the reasons why Barnaby Joyce succeeded him.
Now lots of people know a lot about Barnaby for a variety or reasons, and a saw enough of his successor Michael McCormack this week to realise he was simply not up to the job. The numbers that matter are the 21 members of the federal National Party room. More than half prefer Barnaby Joyce, warts and all. So we have Barnaby Joyce victorious in Nationals leadership challenge.
I have to say that his deputy, David Littleproud, looked absolutely miserable next to Barnaby on TV, although he says he was just cold. Word is that Matt Canavan moved the spill motion, and Littleproud’s support made the difference, in the interests of longer term stability.
If so, strange thinking. As Jennifer Hewitt says in the AFR today:
The public will now have a front row seat at Joyce’s more explosive brand of political fireworks. And he does bear grudges.
Every-one not living under a rock knows that the Biloela community loves the Tamil family Nades and Priya Murugappan, and their daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, who were taken from their homes in March 2018 in a dawn raid without warning the day their bridging visa expired, and have now been banged up in Christmas Island for several years.