Daily Links May 17

What happens to small towns whose water becomes big business for bottled brands? On so many levels, there’re issues here. Bottled water is the triumph of marketing over common sense, management of groundwater is so hit and miss, availability of water declines as climate impacts hit – where is the public interest being protected here?

Top Post
The way scientists set climate goals has given the world a false sense of hope
Some argue we need to completely rethink the way climate policies are set.

Today’s Celebration
Constitution Day – Nauru, Norway
Dia das Letras Galegas – Spain
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day – http://www.itu.int/en/wtisd/Pages/default.aspx
World Hypertension Day – https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/world-hypertension-day/
Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day – https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/neurofibromatosis-awareness-day/
Global Accessibility Awareness Day – https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/global-accessibility-awareness-day/
More about May 17 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_17

Climate Change
UK must secure billions in investment to meet climate targets, MPs warn
Influential committee says collapse in low-carbon investment is endangering jobs and threatening climate commitments

Global 2 degrees C rise doubles population exposed to multiple climate risks compared to 1.5 degrees C
New research identifying climate vulnerability hotspots has found that the number of people affected by multiple climate change risks could double if the global temperature rises by 2 degrees C, compared to a rise of 1.5 degrees C.

U.S. insurers unprepared for climate change disasters
Most U.S. insurance companies have not adapted their strategies to address the dangers of climate change, making them likely to raise rates or deny coverage in high-risk areas, said a study released on Tuesday.

As climate risks grow, Pakistani Kashmir boosts emergency plans
Pakistan – one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change – is now trying to boost its ability to respond to disasters, including in the Kashmir region, which is prone to deadly floods, drought, landslides and earthquakes.

Pay-backs to Africa from the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets
Scientists investigate potential benefits to Africa of limiting global warming to 1.5°C instead of 2°C. The study suggests that continued efforts to limit warming to 0.5 °C lower than 2°C offer substantial paybacks in terms of reducing heat extremes and their associated socio-economic impacts across Africa

NZ faces a looming health crisis without proper planning for climate change
Unchecked climate change could mean mosquitoes carrying disease, a rise in respiratory illnesses and greater contamination of water sources.

Labor considers tougher environmental laws as branches call for new agency
Tony Burke says Labor isn’t afraid to strengthen laws as grassroots campaign calls for more proactive protections

NFPs Encouraged to Make the Switch to Solar
A new campaign has launched aiming to help the not-for-profit and community sector make the switch to renewable energy.

Clearing not the future of farming [$]
Lyndon Schneiders
A noisy minority demands the right to destroy vegetation while science and industry leaders unite to work with the environment

EV range anxiety – is Big Oil ready for the “volt-age”
Giles Parkinson
Electric Vehicles will help lessen Australia’s dependence of fossil fuel imports, and provide cheaper and cleaner transport. But is the oil industry ready for this? Apparently not.

Road that swallowed homes may return for second bite
Keith Fitzgerald was set to lose his home before the East West Link was dumped. Now, the 75-year-old is worried again.

Failing to grease squeaky rails caused train to jump tracks: watchdog
Metro Trains’ poor track maintenance led to the derailment of a train carrying more than 100 passengers, an investigation has found.

Andrews government opens up state’s western coastline to gas drilling
More than 1300 square kilometres of coastal waters and coastline in western Victoria has been opened up to gas exploration by the Andrews government, including potential drilling from onshore.

No prime time for solar [$]
Rural communities are trying to short-circuit solar farm developments across some of Victoria’s prime irrigation land.

Geelong water fountains shut off after high lead levels detected
About 30 water fountains are shut off while Barwon Water and the City of Greater Geelong investigate the cause of the contamination.

Armchair scientists needed to count fur seals using drone footage
A new citizen science project using drone photos needs volunteers to monitor fur seal numbers on Victoria’s offshore islands and help identify those tangled up in plastic.

What happens to small towns whose water becomes big business for bottled brands?
Emma Kathryn White and Rebecca Louise Nelson, University of Melbourne
Groundwater being pumped from a highland aquifer, only to be whisked away in tankers and sold in little plastic bottles by a multinational corporation – it’s a difficult concept for a small farming town to swallow.

New South Wales
New rules launched to fight ‘dodgy’ power bill discounts
Energy regulators will bring in new rules to fight confusing electricity bills in an effort to halt “deceptive” discounting.

Koala protections prompt ‘serious new threat’ to NSW’s native forests
Efforts to secure more habitat for koala protection have triggered a shortage of supply of native timber in NSW that will spur more intensive …

Bargain price for power stake [$]
A half-share of the Vales Point power station is being offered for $350 million just four years after the entire plant sold for $1m.

ACT brings forward zero emissions target to 2045
ACT government brings forward its zero emissions target to 2045, turning its focus to transport and gas, and laying down the gauntlet for other states and Canberra to follow.

Carmichael rail line: engineering firm says it has ‘demobilised’ from Adani project
Indian miner says ‘current phase’ of AECOM’s engineering and design complete

Hinchinbrook Island resort could be reborn as tourist glamping destination
The once-lavish eco-resort in north Queensland is in ruins, but a WA businessman is talking to the State Government about a plan to bring it back to life for the international tourist trade.

Watch first walk-through of Brisbane’s Metro station
The biggest single cost of the $944m Brisbane Metro project is the underground Cultural Centre station.

Brisbane City Council backtracks and bans plastic straws
Brisbane City Council has committed to banning plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons less than two weeks after they ruled out implementing a ban.

Shoppers advised to plan for plastic ban [$]
Time is ticking until Queensland’s ban on plastic bags, with shoppers reminded not make a last-minute rush on environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Brisbane’s shock plastic ban [$]
Thousands of events across Brisbane will be pressured to follow Brisbane City Council’s shock ban on plastic straws, helium balloons and single-use water bottles.

Cape York land clearance defended for economic rewards [$]
Australian Conservation Foundation policy analyst James Trezise said the clearing would endanger the habitats for threatened species.

Multi-million-dollar island development knocked back near Gladstone
As idyllic islands up and down the Great Barrier Reef sit in ruins, a regional Queensland council knocks back a multi-million-dollar resort development.

Long-running battle ends in a win for residents, koalas and local council planning rules
Philippa England, Griffith University
Gold Coast City Council has won a four-year legal battle with Boral Resources, with the courts upholding the council’s refusal to approve a proposed quarry because of its impacts on the amenity of local residents – including the area’s koalas.

Climate ‘highly likely’ a factor in Hobart floods: climatologist
It is “highly likely” climate change contributed in some capacity to the Hobart floods, a leading climatologist says.

A bad outcome for Dover
Vica Bayley
The Wilderness Society believes the proposal for a woodchip port at Dover is a bad outcome for the the town itself, the local and broader environment and industry.

Northern Territory
Barramundi farm first NT beneficiary of $5bn government incentive
The NAIF was set up to give the northern Australian economy a boost, but two years later, only two businesses have received funds

Asbestos ‘likely dumped for decades’ sparks health fears in remote Aboriginal community
Northern Territory Government representatives visit a remote Indigenous community amid fears residents, including children, have been exposed to asbestos, likely dumped there for decades.

NT seabed mining moratorium extended, drawing mixed reaction from stakeholders
A moratorium on seabed mining, which was due to expire, will now remain in place until 2021, although there has been no public announcement.

Western Australia
Chevron’s winter gas plan [$]
Western Australia’s two big LNG exporters have put in bids to supply AGL Energy’s planned LNG import terminal.

Rare WA ‘armoured’ spiders under threat from habitat destruction
Rare species of armoured trapdoor spiders native to Western Australia are already added to the threatened species list, despite being newly discovered.

Mysterious rise in banned ozone-destroying chemical shocks scientists
CFCs have been outlawed for years but researchers have detected new production somewhere in east Asia

Water shortages to be key environmental challenge of the century, Nasa warns
Freshwater supplies have already seriously declined in 19 global hotspots – from China to the Caspian Sea – due to overuse, groundbreaking study shows

Electric school buses can be backup batteries for the US power grid
American school buses guzzle $3.2B of carcinogen-laden diesel a year, but they could do a lot of good if electrified.

5 things that sound, move, or smell like a nuclear explosion
After most of the world’s nations signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, in 1996, they set up a new commission to watch out for clandestine explosions.

Switzerland to vote on pesticide ban ‘in 3 years’
Campaigners force a referendum on the future use of synthetic pesticides in Switzerland.

Trump mulls new global institution to promote fossil fuels
The Trump administration is considering forming “a new, central institution” to advocate for natural gas and coal technology and exports, according to a document E&E News obtained from an administration source.

Wind power overtakes nuclear for first time in UK across a quarter
News of milestone comes as MPs say policy changes have caused collapse in investment in renewables

First ‘plastic free’ label to help shoppers curb pollution
A new “plastic-free” logo launched in Britain on Wednesday will allow shoppers to identify products with plastic packaging, as companies come under growing pressure to use green alternatives.

Glyphosate shown to disrupt microbiome ‘at safe levels’, study claims
Study on rats said to show that the chemical, found in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, poses ‘a significant public health concern’

Bitcoin estimated to use half a percent of the world’s electric energy by end of 2018
Bitcoin’s burgeoning electricity demands have attracted almost as much attention as the cryptocurrency’s fluctuating value. But estimating exactly how much electricity the Bitcoin network uses remains a challenge.

A Green Approach to Making Ammonia Could Help Feed the World
Researchers have developed a new ‘green’ approach to making ammonia that may help make feeding the rising world population more …

UK won’t need new gas plants after 2025 coal phase-out
UK is on track to phase-out coal by 2025, but won’t need to build any new large-scale gas plants in order to keep the lights …

Overcoming the ‘Collaboration Conundrum’
The Sustainable Development Goals present a unique opportunity for businesses to align their strategy and activities to the needs of society, but it requires effective collaboration between business, government and the not-for-profit sector to achieve this aim, according to a UK expert.

Tesla unveils 18.2MW big battery in Belgium
Tesla has unveiled its latest grid-scale battery – a 140 Powerpack 18.2MW system in Belgium the company says was installed in five weeks.

A new farming technique using drastically less water is catching on
The idea is seen as an important innovation for adapting farming to climate change and a way to increase yields at a time when human populations are growing fast.

Beyond the Flint tragedy: Contaminated drinking water is everywhere in America
Agricultural runoff is poorly regulated and turning many waterways across the country into dangerous cesspools.

Hunters Point is a textbook case of environmental injustice
It’s one thing to read about “environmental justice.” It’s another thing to see it play out before our very eyes. Case in point: the unfolding saga of the Hunters Point Shipyard cleanup, which could be one of the worst environmental injustices in California history.

Nature Conservation
Climate change in Quebec equals a much greater diversity of species???
A team of researchers believe that, paradoxically, climate change may result in Quebec’s national and provincial parks becoming biodiversity refuges of continental importance as the variety of species present there increases. They calculated potential changes in the presence of 529 species in about one third of the protected areas in southern Quebec. Their results suggest that fifty — eighty years from now (between 2071-2100) close to half of the protected regions of southern Quebec may see a species turnover of greater than 80 %.

Climate change impacts fragile river ecosystems
Research undertaken in South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP) has shown that some of the world’s most sensitive and valuable riverine habitats are being destroyed due to an increasing frequency of cyclone-driven extreme floods.

Climate change to shift many fish species north, disrupting fisheries
Climate change will force hundreds of ocean fish and invertebrate species, including some of the most economically important to the United States, to move northward, disrupting fisheries in the United States and Canada, a Rutgers University-led study reports. The study, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, covers the North American continental shelfs on the Pacific and Atlantic coast

Study links malaria to deforestation in the Amazon
To keep malaria from becoming an even bigger threat, the authors call for better monitoring of mosquito populations, land planning, and income generation schemes for forest-dwelling communities.

NASA satellites reveal major shifts in global freshwater
NASA Satellites Reveal Major Shifts in Global Freshwater (NASA Headquarters). In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists have combined an array of NASA satellite observations of Earth with data on human activities to map locations where freshwater is changing around the globe and to determine why.

Natural Regeneration or Tree-Planting? Study Points to Bias in Forest Restoration Studies
At a time when countries are pledging to restore millions of hectares of forest, new research argues that recent studies on …

437 Million Tons of Fish, $560 Billion Wasted Due to Destructive Fishing Operations
Industrial fisheries that rely on bottom trawling wasted 437 million tonnes of fish and missed out on $560 billion in revenue over the past 65 years

Coal ash contains lead, arsenic, and mercury – and it’s mostly unregulated
Can science find solutions where policy lags before the damage deepens?

Europe is demolishing its dams to restore ecosystems
The growing trend of dam removals calls for monitoring of environmental effects — both good and bad.

Leaked report warns Cambodia’s biggest dam could ‘literally kill’ Mekong river
Government-commissioned report says proposed site at Sambor reach is the ‘worst possible place’ for hydropower due to impact on wildlife.

The destruction of nature in S. Sumatra has given rise to a criminal generation
Taufik Wijaya
Could incidents of violence, lawbreaking and general lack of respect for order be related to diminishing natural resources and destruction of the landscape?

Maelor Himbury