Big surf flips boulders across road in Port Fairy, reigniting climate change, coastal erosion concerns


Wild surf has battered Victoria’s south-west coast, sweeping large boulders onto roads and trapping a family on an island off Port Fairy.

Emergency services rescued the family from Griffiths Island on Sunday after large waves and a high tide left them stranded, unable to access the narrow pedestrian walkway that would link them to the mainland.

Port Fairy-based shire councillor Jordan Lockett said the force of the ocean was incredible and roads were strewn with seaweed and large boulders.

Locals reported some rocks had been moved up to 20 or 30 metres from the sea wall, which lined a road along the town’s South Beach precinct.

Cr Lockett said the impact of climate change on the shire’s “vulnerable coastline” would continue and worsen over the years to come.

The Victorian government has already instructed councils to plan for a 0.8-metre sea level rise by 2100.

But updated data released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted sea level rises of up to 1.1m.

Speaking to the ABC last year, coastal geomorphologist David Kennedy from the University of Melbourne said Victorian coastal areas were under threat from changes to swell patterns as a consequence of climate change.

Friends of the Earth climate activist Leigh Ewbank said the “startling” images of displaced boulders at Port Fairy were “a sign of things to come”.

“It raises the question, if this is what Port Fairy is seeing today, how will this community cope with sea level rises of 10, 20 centimetres — let alone a metre of sea level rise,” he said.

Mr Ewbank said other Victorian towns, such as Apollo Bay and Inverloch, had already sounded the alarm about the issue.

“It was only a matter of time before the Port Fairy community started connecting the dots,” he said.

But some Port Fairy locals are already involved in a citizen-science program gathering data about coastal erosion and monitoring changes to the coastline.

The group formed after 4m of coastline was lost to coastal erosion in 2013 and threatened to expose an old rubbish site.

The wild weather over the weekend also impacted local penguin populations.

Tracey Wilson has been running a wildlife centre near Warrnambool and said she rescued three penguins that washed up on nearby beaches.

“The seas down here were absolutely horrendous,” she said.

Ms Wilson is urging anyone who sees a penguin on the beach to contact wildlife rescuers.

“Please don’t ignore a penguin that’s on the beach, if it’s still alive please get it help,” she said.

“If you can approach them, they’re in a lot of trouble and just shouldn’t be there at all.”

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World’s wealthiest ‘at heart of climate problem’


The world’s wealthy must radically change their lifestyles to tackle climate change, a report says.

It says the world’s wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%, according to the UN.

The wealthiest 5% alone – the so-called “polluter elite” – contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.

The authors want to deter SUV drivers and frequent fliers – and persuade the wealthy to insulate their homes well.

The authors urge the UK government to reverse its decision to scrap air passenger duty on UK return flights.

And they want ministers to re-instate the Green Homes Grant scheme they also scrapped recently.

The report comes from the UK-based Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change.

It’s a panel of 31 individuals who study people’s behaviour relating to the environment. They were tasked to find the most effective way of scaling up action to tackle carbon emissions.

Their critics say the best way to cut emissions faster is through technological improvements – not through measures that would prove unpopular.

But the lead author of the report, Prof Peter Newell, from Sussex University, told BBC News: “We are totally in favour of technology improvements and more efficient products – but it’s clear that more drastic action is needed because emissions keep going up.

“We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions.

“These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they’re well insulated or not.

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Climate distress is real and it's rational. Here's how to manage it



You’ve got the reusable cups and bags, the beeswax wraps, the shampoo bar.You collect your cans and soft plastics and you compost, recycle and reuse what you can. You research brands so you can support sustainable, environmentally conscious businesses.  Why? Because you’re trying to do your bit for the environment and climate. But if you find that when you can’t do these things it causes you to feel anxious, guilty or hopeless, you might have something called climate distress.It may sound like a newly invented first-world problem but it is very real and experts say there are ways to manage it. While researching how to reduce her carbon footprint a few years back, Brisbane woman Zara Monteith quickly fell down an anxiety-inducing rabbit hole, with each search opening her eyes to a different environmental problem to try to solve. “It feels overwhelming — like you’re helpless in a way, because it’s just such a big problem,” Zara says. Despite doing everything she could, Zara felt like nothing she did to reduce her consumption or environmental impact made a difference. “I see a psychologist and that was something that had come up a couple of months ago and I talked about it for the whole session,” she says.”I was like, ‘What do I do? I just can’t do anything,’ and … she was like, ‘I feel the same way.'” Climate psychologist Dr Suzie Burke speaking at an event. (Supplied: Suzie Burke)Climate Psychologist Susie Burke says being distressed about the climate is rational.”It’s normal and understandable to feel deeply worried and concerned … and to be worried about the existential threat to humanity and to species and ecosystems all over the planet,” Dr Burke says.And not everyone responds to their distress the same way. “We can deny, or we can minimise the threat, or we can decide it’s somebody else’s fault not ours, or we can become helpless and hopeless, we can give up, we can become cynical, we can believe it’s somebody else’s problem to fix,” Dr Burke says.So how are you supposed to manage the threat to our very existence and your day-to-day life to somehow keep your mental health in check?How climate experts parent their kidsLast summer made me wonder how I should prepare my children for climate change. So I asked climate experts who also have young children, Ginger Gorman writes.Read moreNo-one is perfectFirst up, recognise that you’re not always going to be able to make the environmental choice and be the perfect Instagrammable eco-warrior. For some families disposable nappies are necessary, for some products styrofoam containers are unavoidable and on some days the air conditioner is going to run for much longer than the climate (or your wallet) would like. Dr Burke said it was important not to be too hard on yourself and instead focus on how you could do something differently in the future.Be a part of the ABC Everyday community by joining our Facebook group.It’s not on you alone to fix the problemPsychologist Carol Ride said, for too long, the responsibility to solve some of the world’s biggest problems has been plonked, solely on the shoulders of individuals.”And that has suited the politicians to some extent, to sort of leave it to the individuals rather than recognise that this is a global and national problem,” Ms Ride says.  Psychologist Carol Ride runs workshops on climate distress.(Supplied: Carol Ride)”Sure, the little things we do personally are perhaps modelling what should be happening on a larger scale, but they are not going to solve it.”She says this narrative has left well-intentioned, climate-conscious people open to distress and guilt. That’s where coping strategies can help.Problem-focused copingThis is all about doing things that directly address the problem that is causing the distress  — so, the kinds of things environmentally conscious people do every day.”That can be at an individual level, around the things that we do in our household, or around the choices that we make around whether we ride or drive,” Dr Burke says. “It could involve writing to, or emailing, politicians or leaders of businesses that are doing environmentally destructive things.” Ash Berdebes and Jess Hamilton host the Greenpeace podcast Heaps Better, which aims to turn climate anxiety into action.(Supplied: Ash Berdebes)Jess Hamilton, one of the hosts of Greenpeace’s Heaps Better podcast, recommends finding out where your banks and super funds are investing your money and changing providers if you are not happy with the answer. “It all comes back to money,” Jess says.”The power of thousands of people doing that does change minds and does have impacts on AGMs (Annual General Meetings) and does have impacts on the way directors are investing our money.”For Zara, actively doing these things she knows will reduce her footprint can help, but sometimes it doesn’t do enough to address the distress she is feeling. That’s when you might like to turn your focus away from your actions — and on to how you’re feeling.If you or anyone you know needs help:Emotion-focused copingDr Burke says emotion-focused coping means addressing the uncomfortable feelings like guilt or hopelessness. She says this can be done by “moving” the stress hormones out of your body through actions. “That might be things like having a cry — which is a very appropriate response to knowing that the environment that we depend on for our very existence is threatened,” Dr Burke says.But that could also be spending time in nature, exercising, talking with others, singing, dancing, cooking or evening taking a shower — basically anything that tells your body you are safe.Jess said finding a community of like-minded people, can make “such a difference”. “It all happens when you’re working with other people,” Jess says.”There are] some really great examples of schools that, thanks to a collective of teachers and parents and people in the community … [created] the Sustainable Schools Alliance … to get solar panels put on school roofs that are then powering the community,” Jess says.Zara says she has had a lot of success in bringing her workplace on board, helping to introduce a range of recycling and composting options to the office Zara Monteith helped to introduce a range of measures to reduce waste in her office.(Supplied: Zara Monteith)Meaning-focused copingThis is about cultivating and maintaining a hopeful and optimistic head space. “Meaning-focused coping might be noticing all the other people around the planet working to restore a safe climate,” Dr Burke said.”[Another] example would be to take a historical perspective and to note how in the past, enormous, wicked and complicated problems have been solved in the face of what might have at the time seemed like insurmountable difficulties.”Looking at the abolishment of slavery, or the end of apartheid, or the women’s suffragette movement.””We might recognise a problem is pretty huge and the things that we might do might not solve the problem, but we do it anyway because it’s the morally right thing to do whatever we can.”Of course, if you are concerned about the level of distress you are feeling, be sure to reach out to your doctor. ABC Everyday in your inboxGet our newsletter for the best of ABC Everyday each week

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Climate change protesters delay Sydney traffic


Climate change protesters are causing traffic chaos across Sydney’s CBD this morning.

Members of the Extinction Rebellion group have chained themselves to barrels in the city.

Earlier, one woman glued herself to the road and was arrested.

Traffic had been unable to get through but has now started to move.

The protests are centred around Bathurst and George Streets, with Live Traffic warning of heavy traffic in the area.

A second group of protesters were rallying against a gas pipeline.

Last week, Extinction Rebellion protesters also disrupted traffic in Melbourne for five days.

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Biden wants Russia, China to take part in climate talks


U.S. President Joe Biden is including rivals Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China among the invitees to the first big climate talks of his administration, an event the U.S. hopes will help shape, speed up and deepen global efforts to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel pollution, administration officials told The Associated Press.

Biden is seeking to revive a U.S.-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both used and Donald Trump let languish. Leaders of some of the world’s top climate-change sufferers, do-gooders and backsliders round out the rest of the 40 invitations being delivered Friday — including to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It will be held virtually April 22 and 23.

Hosting the summit will fulfil a campaign pledge and executive order by Biden, and the administration is timing the event with its own upcoming announcement of what’s a much tougher U.S. target for revamping the U.S. economy to sharply cut emissions from coal, natural gas and oil.

The session — and whether it’s all talk, or some progress — will test Biden’s pledge to make climate change a priority among competing political, economic, policy and pandemic problems. It also will pose a very public — and potentially embarrassing or empowering — test of whether U.S. leaders, and Biden in particular, can still drive global decision-making after the Trump administration withdrew globally and shook up longstanding alliances.

The Biden administration intentionally looked beyond its international partners for the talks, an administration official said.

“It’s a list of the key players and it’s about having some of the tough conversations and the important conversations,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. plans for the event. “Given how important this issue is to the entire world, we have to be willing to talk about it and we have to be willing to talk about it at the high levels.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among a group of 40 world leaders the U.S. is inviting to participate in a virtually-hosted forum on climate issues next month. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

Leaving behind Trump’s approach

Trump mocked the science underlying urgent warnings on global warming and the resulting worsening of droughts, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. He pulled the United States out of the 2015 UN Paris climate accords as one of his first actions. That makes next month’s summit the first major international climate discussions by a U.S. leader in more than four years, although leaders in Europe and elsewhere have kept up talks.

U.S. officials and some others give the Obama administration’s major-economies climate discussions some of the credit for laying the groundwork for the Paris accord. The United States and nearly 200 other governments at those talks each set targets for cutting their fossil-fuel emissions, and pledged to monitor and report their emissions. Another Biden administration official said the U.S. is still deciding how far the administration will go in setting a more ambitious U.S. emissions target.

Putin, seen listening during a meeting in Moscow this week, has been invited to participate. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin/The Associated Press)

The Biden administration hopes the stage provided by next month’s Earth Day climate summit — planned to be all virtual because of COVID-19 and all publicly viewable on livestream, including breakout conversations — will encourage other international leaders to use it as a platform to announce their own countries’ tougher emission targets or other commitments, ahead of November’s UN global climate talks in Glasgow.

The administration hopes more broadly the session will help galvanize governments on getting moving on specific, politically bearable ways to retool their transportation and power sectors and overall economies now to meet those tougher future targets.

Showing commitment

The U.S. summit isn’t just “about the deliverables, it really is about engaging at the leader level — sending a signal from the U.S. perspective about how serious we are, and putting our own cards on the table in a significant way,” the first official said, referring to Biden’s upcoming announcement on a more aggressive U.S. emissions target. “And hoping that countries will join us.”

Like Bush’s and Obama’s major-economies climate forums, Biden’s invite list includes leaders of the world’s biggest economies and European blocs. That includes two countries — Russia and China — that Biden and his diplomats are clashing against, over election interference, cyberattacks, human rights and other issues. It’s not clear how those two countries in particular will respond to the U.S. invitations, or whether they are willing to co-operate with the U.S. on cutting emissions while sparring on other topics. China is the world’s top emitter of climate-damaging pollution. The U.S. is No. 2. Russia is No. 4.

Brazil is on the list as a major economy, but it’s also a major climate backslider under President Jair Bolsonaro, who derailed preservation efforts for the carbon-sucking Amazon and joined Trump in trampling international climate commitments.

The 40 invitees also include leaders of countries facing some of the gravest immediate threats, including low-lying Bangladesh and the Marshall islands, countries seen as modelling some good climate behaviour, including Bhutan and some Scandanavian countries, and African nations with variously big carbon sink forests or big oil reserves. Poland and some other countries on the list are seen as possibly open to moving faster away from dirty coal power.

Biden as a candidate pledged $2 trillion in investment to help transform the U.S. into a zero-emission economy by 2050 while building clean-energy and technology jobs. Biden and other administration officials have been stressing U.S. climate intentions during early one-on-one talks with foreign leaders, and Biden climate envoy John Kerry has focused on speeding up emissions cuts internationally in diplomacy abroad.

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Rio Tinto swings behind activist shareholder demands on climate


“We’re looking forward to the company improving its [direct] emissions reduction targets over the next year to actually match the trajectory required to meet the Paris climate goals and are glad to have the company on board with that mission,” Mr Vincent said.

In the second resolution, the ACCR called on Rio Tinto to immediately review its links to powerful fossil fuel lobby groups to determine whether their public positions were aligned with the Paris climate accord’s goals. It calls on Rio Tinto to suspend membership of groups deemed out of step.

“The board of Rio Tinto, already under significant pressure from shareholders, has finally acknowledged that its funding of Australia’s climate stalemate goes against its own long-term interests,” Mr Gocher said.

“Groups including the Minerals Council of Australia, the Queensland Resources Council and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia should see this as a clear warning: lobby in support of the Paris Agreement or they will lose one of their largest members.”

Rio Tinto supported the motion, telling investors it regularly reviewed its membership of industry associations yearly, but would “further enhance this review process in 2021”, he said.

“If we identify significant differences in climate-related policy and advocacy, we will as part of that process consider suspension of membership,” he said. “Our preference is to work within, and influence, industry associations to ensure that their policy positions and advocacy is consistent with the goals of the Paris agreement.”

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Since former Rio CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques resigned amid the fallout from the blasting of ancient Aboriginal rock shelters last year, Mr Stausholm has laid out ambitions to lift the company’s environmental, social and governance performance, improve ties with traditional owners and accelerate its decarbonisation agenda.

On climate change in particular, Rio and other big emitters around the world are facing ever-growing pressure from activists and long-term institutional investors seeking to reduce their exposure to greenhouse gases on ethical and financial grounds.

Shareholder activist groups have become a feature of corporate Australia’s annual general meeting season in recent years. By encouraging enough shareholders to co-file strategic meeting resolutions, groups including the ACCR and Market Forces have managed to elevate social and environmental issues above the usual debates over executive pay, and their motions have been attracting growing levels of support.

Mr Vincent predicted the dual Rio resolutions could receive an extraordinary 95 per cent of investor support due to the boardroom’s support.

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Mark McGowan’s win a potential victory for Australian climate goals


Labor’s landslide victory in the WA Election could mean a greener future for the state and hopefully inspire the Federal Government to do better, writes David Ritter.

WA PREMIER Mark McGowan has won an unprecedented electoral mandate in the midst of the climate emergency. He has both the authority and the ability to act decisively to help secure the future security and prosperity of West Australians.

As a WA boy who now lives in Sydney, I spent last spring and summer inhaling the smoke from the fires that devastated our eastern seaboard. But in February this year, I found myself going to sleep worrying about my home town, as out-of-control fires devoured homes and swept through thousands of hectares on the outskirts of Perth. Just as the West Australian Election campaign went into full swing, severe climate damage was felt in the west.

As everyone who’s spent time in the Perth Hills and the Swan Valley knows, these are incredibly precious places of extraordinary natural beauty, with tight-knit communities and magnificent wildlife. Growing up on the scarp was a life of gumtrees, bikes, gilgies and orchards that could seem a world away from the brighter lights to be found “down the hill”.

McGowan’s Labor given huge mandate in WA Election result

Labor’s victory was always predicted, but its historic triumph leaves the State Liberal Party enfeebled, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark.

As the fires took hold, I thought of my sisters and their families who live on the Darling Range and of the old friends still in the area. Like so many Australians over recent years, I found myself sending hasty text messages, checking that loved ones were okay.

Pouring over the Emergency WA website to monitor the progress of the blazes brought up precious memories of more carefree summers. One meeting place for evacuees, I noticed, was Brown Park, a place I associate with some memorable and hard-fought cricket matches – not as a gathering place for escapees from severe climate damage.

The last time I batted at Brown Park, the amount of global CO2 in the atmosphere was at around 355 parts per million. Today, it is over 410 and rising, mainly driven by the continued use of fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – which is why the world is in a state of climate emergency.

Catastrophic fire conditions are a symptom of the climate emergency because global warming is responsible for record heat, drought and dry conditions. Historically, we’ve always taken some perverse pride in the heat of the sunburnt country, but global warming is taking the temperature off the dial of what we have ever experienced before.

Seeing images of the blinding orange haze covering communities once again and the streets of my childhood choked with smoke, it seems impossible that our governments could not comprehend that Australia needs a clear and binding commitment to net-zero emissions. We need to get there by 2040 at the latest, with a comprehensive and fair plan to show our path – and that means rapidly phasing out mining and burning coal and gas, which are driving dangerous climate change.

Stand for something: WA election candidates stick to platitudes

With the Western Australian State Election looming, candidates are playing it safe on various election issues, writes Tyson Adams.

WA is used to feeling aggrieved at some of the treatment from Canberra, but on climate, the current Prime Minister is letting down the whole of Australia. Despite the USA under Joe Biden now moving rapidly forward on reducing emissions, along with recent step-change commitments from China and many others, Scott Morrison remains out of step with the direction of the world community. Australia has no binding net-zero emissions target and no credible mechanisms in place for reducing carbon pollution consistent with the science.

And let’s be clear, the people whose homes and livelihoods are being ravaged by fire should not be left to foot the bill for the clean-up once the fires are out. Ordinary Australians have been placed in the path of harm by the coal and gas companies who have hampered Australia’s progress in tackling climate change for decades.

Again, this is where Canberra should definitely step in. We need a national Climate Compensation Fund, paid for by fossil fuel companies, to repair the damage they have caused. As the largest contributors to climate change and thereby direct feeders into these devastating extreme weather events, the onus should be on them to clean up the mess left behind. It’s only fair.

But not all the responsibility sits with the Commonwealth. Western Australia can do more to reduce domestic emissions faster, in line with what is needed across the world. And in terms of exported emissions, WA’s own fossil fuel extraction industry is a major contribution to driving the climate emergency.

The Conservation Council of WA’s (CCWA) landmark report into the Burrup Hub, a Liquefied Natural Gas mega-project currently proposed in the Northwest of Western Australia, concluded that if allowed to proceed, it would be the most polluting project ever to be developed in Australia.

WA Government has betrayed its homeless

Despite ranking among the wealthiest Australian states, WA is still ignorant towards rescuing its homeless population.

As noted by Piers Verstegen, CCWA’s Director, the proposal would be:

Western Australia, one of the sunniest, windiest places on Earth, stands to gain so much from a swift transition to a solar and wind-powered energy system and, conversely, faces increasingly graver threats from climate change unless action is taken to reduce emissions. Damaging proposals like the Burrup Hub should not move forward when there are so many clean and reliable renewable options ripe for investment.

With great power comes higher responsibility. No Western Australian premier has ever possessed the mastery now held by Mark McGowan. He has the ability to do very great good, for the future of all Western Australians – and for us all.

David Ritter is CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, adjunct professor at Sydney University and an honorary fellow of the Law Faculty at the University of Western Australia. You can follow David Ritter on Twitter @David_Ritter.

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More than 100 Australian faith groups have teamed up to demand greater action on climate change


Faith leaders across Australia have held a day of protest for more government action on climate change. 

A group of a dozen people sat in meditation outside New South Wales Parliament house in Sydney on Thursday morning, as part of a silent protest calling on the Morrison government to submit higher emissions reduction targets.

Director of the Buddhist Council of NSW Gawaine Powell Davies said that while some protests are loud, others “draw attention by being very quiet”.

“What we are wanting to do is lend the voices of faith to demands that governments and others move quickly on the climate catastrophe before it’s too late,” he said.

“As a Buddhist, I have a strong sense that we are connected to all of creation and that we need to have a care for everything, and if we don’t we will all suffer.”

A protest outside a church in Melbourne.

Supplied.

The event was one of over 100 protests that took place around Australia on Thursday morning at religious locations and offices of senior federal politicians. 

It was part of a multi-faith climate justice event called ‘Sacred People, Sacred Earth’ coinciding with faith events around the world.

In Australian capital cities, church bells cities rang their bells, Islamic calls to prayer rang out and Jewish Rabbi’s blew the Shofar horn.

One of the key demands of the movement is that Australia sets a target to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said that our goal is “to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050”.

However, he has declined to formally set the target, unlike other nations like the United Kingdom and Japan.

In a statement to SBS News a spokesperson for Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said Australia was on track to meet and beat its 2030 Emission Reduction Target.

“Our emissions have fallen faster than many other countries, and significantly faster than the OECD or G20 averages,” they said.

“This is thanks to the Morrison Government’s real and practical action to reduce emissions while maintaining a strong economy.

“Action and outcomes are what matter, and our track record is one that all Australians can be proud of.”

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Scientists studying krill want to know how the tiny fish are affected by climate change and fishing


They are known as the building blocks of the ocean and great swarms of them can even be seen from space.

But not only are these tiny krill the favourite snack of whales, there is a growing fishing industry catching them for aquaculture feed and high value krill oil.

Right now a team of scientists is working around the clock to figure out how many are in Antarctic waters near Australia’s Mawson and Davis stations.

“There has been an increase in the interest in krill fishing in this area,” krill biologist Jessica Melvin said.

“Understanding their biomass is important for the ecosystem as a whole.”

Krill being studied under a microscope.(

Supplied: CSIRO

)

Just like on land, all energy in the ocean comes from the sun.

Single-celled floating plants called phytoplankton absorb that energy through photosynthesis.

The krill eat the phytoplankton and they are then eaten by large marine species.

Three women scientists wearing heavy coats on board a research ship in the Southern Ocean
Jessica Melvin and Abigail Smith are part of a team studying how climate change and increasing fishing is affecting krill in the Southern Ocean.(

Supplied: CSIRO

)

Growing industry

A graph showing the krill fishing industry harvests 122,400,000 krill per day, and one blue whale which eats 3,600,000 per day
A graph showing the amount of krill harvested by the entire krill fishing industry, compared with a single blue whale, seal and Adelie penguin(

Supplied: Australian Antarctic Division

)

Scientists estimate there are 400,000 tonnes of krill in the Southern Ocean.

The krill catch around Antarctica sits at just 0.1 per cent.

But the industry is growing and scientists want to make sure it does not impact on marine life.

Melting sea ice, due to climate change, is allowing boats into areas they previously could not fish and technology is more efficient.

“Krill are one of the biggest fisheries in the Southern Ocean by tonnage,” Ms Melvin said.

“They’re used primarily for aquaculture, pharmaceuticals and human consumption.

“Because they are so important to the ecosystem, understanding how they contribute to the ecosystem, and also how added fishing pressures and the added pressures of climate change will affect them is vital for the management of the fishery in the future.”

Threats from climate change

Climate change is posing a more direct challenge, with the increase in carbon dioxide making the ocean more acidic — something that will have a huge impact on krill survival and reproduction.

The last big biomass study in this region was done 15 years ago and the researchers are redoing this study in almost the same way in order to compare results.

That study surveyed krill to a depth of 250 metres. This voyage will also attempt to understand the importance of deep sea habitat.

A small jar containing several small krill.
Krill biologist Jessica Melvin says the tiny fish are a “keystone species” of the Southern Ocean.(

Supplied: CSIRO

)

Acoustician Abigail Smith is responsible for the echo sounders underneath the Investigator.

“They’ll be sending pings out from the ship through the water column and listening for the echoes that bounce back off any objects that might be in the water,” she said.

“That can be things such as the seafloor but it can also be things like schools of fish and swarms of krill.”

The technology will allow her to measure the size and density of krill swarms in the ocean as they are below the boat.

New technology

They are also using a new contraption, dubbed a swarm study system.

“[We are] looking at them through GoPro cameras off the side of the ship and we’ve also got an echosounder mounted to that as well,” she said.

“So we can both visualise the krill with sound and sight for the first time I believe.

“It basically allows you to look inside a krill swarm, see how the krill are behaving in real time without the ship going over the top of them, potentially dispersing them.”

A blue whale breaches the ocean surface.
Blue whales are among the creatures that feed on krill.(

Reuters: Noaa, Noaa

)

The eight-week voyage is destined to return to Hobart in late March and the scientists will then relay their information to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which, if needed, can modify krill fishing laws and catch limits.

While Ms Melvin said scientists were not yet concerned about how many krill are in the ocean, there was definitely an “increased interest”.

“[It’s about] ensuring that there is enough for the fishery and for the ecosystem,” she said.

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Councillors across NSW and Qld join forces to demand climate action from Morrison Government


Councils across NSW and Queensland are fed-up by the lack of climate action from the Morrison and state governments and have banded together to demand urgent change.

Seventeen mayors and councillors from Shellharbour, south of Wollongong, to Port Douglas, in the Sunshine State’s far north, have joined forces to send a message to Canberra, declaring “extreme weather is hurting Australia and our communities are paying the price”.

The local government areas stretch along the nation’s east coast and have been particularly exposed to devastating bushfires and destructive storm events in recent years.

“We are exhausted by the immediate costs and challenges, and we are worried about what’s to come,” the group’s statement declares.

“Extreme weather disasters used to occur every few years. Now, we are facing them every few months.”

RELATED: Qld cops $18bn bill due to extreme weather

The plea for help follows a recent report from the Climate Council in which the leading independent body declared the cost of extreme weather on the Australian economy over the past decade totalled $35 billion, with Queensland copping the majority share at $18 billion.

“We can’t do this alone,” the group of concerned councils said.

“We need more support from the federal government to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in clean industries that create regional jobs, unlock business investment and spur technological innovation.”

Noosa Shire Councillor Brian Stockwell called on both the Morrison and Palaszczuk governments to listen to the urgent fears and present danger for local communities.

The tourist hot spot is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm damage while the warming climate has also increased the fire risk with the popular Sunshine Coast resort area the first of hundreds engulfed in flames during the previous summer.

“The one we’re experiencing already is our early summers and springs are much hotter and much drier,” he told the NCA NewsWire.

“We were the first to have a catastrophic fire event in the 2019/20 season, but it also carries across to us having an ageing population and it’s predicted deaths from extreme heat and climate change will exceed what we experienced last year from COVID by 2100.

“These are significant issues and local governments can address them through practical measures right now.”

Mr Stockwell said the federal government had failed to offer a meaningful response to the present threat with a “business as usual approach to dealing with the fossil fuel industry and ignoring the need to convert our economy to a green economy”.

“We saw the debacle of gas being a preferred option identified by the federal government whereas it‘s really clear that new solar power on large farms are far more cost effective at the moment compared to new coal fired electricity.”

Communities across Australia have clearly had enough of the growing cost of extreme weather disasters, Climate Council researcher Dr Simon Bradshaw said.

“All types of extreme weather events — storms, coastal erosion, flooding, bushfires, heatwaves and drought — are influenced by climate change,” he said.

“Australian communities are already paying the price, with the past twelve months seeing a devastating run of extreme weather disasters.”

“Extreme weather has cost our national economy at least $35 billion over the past decade. And it’s going to get worse — by 2038, the price tag of climate impacts could climb to $100 billion a year.”

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