Curated by Natasha Truelove.
As New South Wales and Queensland are struck by droughts, federal and state governments in Australia are trying to come up with ways to guarantee water supplies into the future. However, on the other side of the continent, Perth is already creating a survival plan, which includes recycling water from toilets, a move still considered unpalatable by many consumers.
Since 2017, residents in the city of Perth have been drinking water recycled from sewage. The water is filtered using osmosis, disinfected with ultra-violet light at a treatment plant and subsequently pumped into natural aquifers and extracted. Clare Lugar from Western Australia’s Water Corporation did admit that convincing residents of the benefits of drinking recycled sewage took time, but only a very small percentage of the water that comes into the plant is directly taken from toilets.
Ian Wright, an expert in environmental science at Western Sydney University, believes other parts of Australia should embrace this type of recycling. More than 95 percent of New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, is officially in drought, and the next three months are forecast to be drier than average. Wright said, "In Sydney there is probably 150 litres per day per person of water that is completely wasted, and, yes, we have the availability of desalination on the coast, but Canberra does not have desalination and then the poor drought-stricken towns like Tamworth and Dubbo, and Broken Hill, they could really, really use that now," he said.
The speed of climate disruption is outstripping many animals’ capacity to adapt, according to a study published in Nature Research. The scientists behind the research have labelled the results alarming as they show a dangerous lag between a human-driven shift in the seasons and behavioural changes in the natural world.
Previous academic work has shown that species respond to warming temperatures by earlier timing of biological events, for example egg-laying by birds, budding of plants and flying of insects. However, this new study reveals that species cannot adapt to their changing environments at a sufficient pace to ensure that populations are viable. Viktoriia Radchuk of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany, said, “Climate change has caused irreversible damage to our biodiversity already, as evidenced by the findings of this study. The fact that species struggle to adapt to the current rate of climate change means we have to take action immediately in order to at least halt or decrease the rate.”
A similar message was delivered to the UK parliament on Tuesday as senior conservation figures warned that the nation’s natural infrastructure was being undermined by the climate crisis. Tony Juniper, the chair of Natural England, the government’s main advisory body on conservation seemed optimistic when he outlined plans for a “nature recovery network” that would rebuild woodlands and peatlands, and work with farmers to protect species and restore soil quality.
Researchers show that the speed and extent of current global warming exceeds any similar event in the past 2,000 years, including famous historic events like the “Little Ice Age”.
The science teams reconstructed the climate conditions that existed over the past 2,000 years using 700 proxy records of temperature changes, including tree rings, corals and lake sediments. They determined that none of these climate events occurred on a global scale. One of the papers states that the warmest period of the past two millennia occurred during the twentieth century for more than 98 per cent of the globe.
The researchers found that prior to the modern industrial era, the most significant influence on climate was volcanoes. They found no indication that variations in the Sun's radiation impacted mean global temperatures. Thus, the current period, say the authors, significantly exceeds natural variability. While the researchers did not set out to test whether humans were the chief influence on the current climate, their findings indicate clearly that this is the case, and other scientists have been impressed with the quality of the new studies.
"This paper should finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural climate cycle," said Prof Mark Maslin, from University College London, UK, who wasn't part of the studies.
2019’s All-Energy Australia Exhibition & Conference, to be held in Melbourne this October, will showcase clean and renewable energy. The conference, which was attended by over 8,500 local and international energy industry professionals last year, is a free conference and exhibition focused on opportunities for the clean energy sector.
This year, the event’s theme is ‘Advancing Australia’s transition to a clean energy future’, with the aim of driving the sector’s continued growth whilst working together to create a nation powered by clean energy. Presentations will include talks from Dr Phil Blythe, CEO of GreenSync, and Dr Adrian Panow, director at Deakin Energy.
This year’s exhibition will feature over 250 industry-leading companies, from market leaders to start-ups. Companies with confirmed attendance include Risen Energy, Samsung SDI and LONGi Solar.
Pacific nations have identified climate change as the single greatest threat to their security, with leaders such as Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoage warning that Australia needs a “more progressive reponse”. However, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has brushed off these suggestions as she heads to Fiji for a regional meeting of foreign ministers.
Senator Payne said that Pacific leaders “should be pleased that Australia is meeting our Paris commitments, that is something we are absolutely locked in doing”. Speaking to the ABC ahead of her departure, Payne defended the Coalition’s credentials on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “We are very serious and meeting out Paris commitments is the best symbol of that, in my view”.
The Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting comes at a time of renewed focus on the Pacific as Australia tries to maintain is pre-eminence as an economic and strategic partner against China’s growing assertiveness. However, Payne said the changing power dynamic isn’t cause for concern.