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A media release from The Climate Institute alerts that humanity entered uncharted territory on Saturday 11 May, as the concentration of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hit a record daily average high of 400 parts per million (ppm). “The atmosphere hasn’t seen CO2 this high for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. We are in dangerous and uncharted territory, with little time to ensure a safe and sustainable future,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. The 400 ppm mark was measured at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa observatory by the University of California – San Diego, which has tracked northern hemisphere levels of CO2 since 1958.
A NASA-led modeling study provides new evidence that global warming may increase the risk for extreme rainfall and drought. The study shows for the first time how rising carbon dioxide concentrations could affect the entire range of rainfall types on Earth. Climate models indicate wet regions of the world, such as the equatorial Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions, will see increases in heavy precipitation because of warming resulting from projected increases in carbon dioxide levels. Arid land areas outside the tropics and many regions with moderate rainfall could become drier.
A project between NASA, the US Geological Survey (USGS), TIME, Google, and the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has compiled images of Earth taken from space into an interactive time-lapse experience, revealing a comprehensive picture of our changing planet between 1984 and 2012. The Timelapse story reveals the impacts on resource use, climate change, and urbanisation, and a selection of animated Timelapse images captured by Google shows the stark changes from glacier retreat, urban and coastal expansion, mining, deforestation, and water resource over-use. To see an animation of the changes in your area, visit Timelapse, click “Explore the World” in the bottom right corner of the animated story heading image, then enter your desired location and search.
The Sustainable Australia Report 2013 is the first report from the National Sustainability Council and tells the story of how Australia has changed as a nation over the last 30 years. Health and levels of educational attainment have improved, and Australians are living longer and have benefited from a strong economy, with low unemployment and increasing incomes. However, inequality has increased and the health of the natural environment has continued to decline in some key areas.
Food security is increasingly recognised as a problem facing urban populations in developed countries like Australia as well as in the developing countries of the global south. Recent disasters, especially floods, have highlighted the fragility of food supply lines in Australian cities. Urban food security, urban resilience and climate change is a NCCARF-funded project that explored urban agricultural practices through a critical review of relevant literature and case study research in two major Australian cities. It found that urban agriculture has the potential to play a greater role in strengthening the food security of Australian cities and building urban resilience in a changing climate.
New research Exploring the Attitudes-Action Gap in Household Resource Consumption surveyed three environmental lifestyle segments representing the spectrum of attitudes, opinions and intentions across the population in Melbourne: “committed” greens, “material” greens and “enviro-sceptics”. Despite a divergence of attitudes, opinions and intentions, few differences were found in relation to each segment’s actual consumption of energy, water, housing space, urban travel and domestic appliances. The persistence of well-ingrained habits and practices among individuals and households and the lack of norms and values in western societies that explicitly promote environmental conservation among its population are fundamentally involved in this attitude-action gap.
Living Smart is an award-winning program that helps you live a more sustainable lifestyle. Knowledge, skills and practical tools are obtained over 6–8 weeks for you to take action in your own home and community to improve both your quality of life and reduce your environmental impact. Topics include simple living, water, power, waste, gardening for biodiversity, gardening for food production, transport, healthy you, healthy home, and community. You can participate in a course in your local area, or if there are no courses near you, consider hosting one.
The Keep Australia Beautiful Australian Sustainable Cities Awards encourage, motivate and celebrate the local sustainability achievements of urban communities across Australia. State and Territory finalists are announced mid year with the Australian winner announced in November. Nominations for the Sustainable Cities Awards 2013 are starting to open around Australia – to find out more visit Keep Australia Beautiful, then see “Our Network” for links to Keep Australia Beautiful in your State or Territory.
The Australian Government has pledged $47 million over eight years for a new Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre from 1 July 2013. This CRC will build on the 10 years of national research of the Bushfire CRC, funding for which is scheduled to end in June 2013, and expand research into other hazards including flood, earthquake, cyclone and tsunami.
In July 2011, the NSW Government commenced a comprehensive review of the state’s planning system, with the aim of creating a new planning system that is more strategic and streamlined and which facilitates sustainable economic growth and upfront community participation. In July 2012, the government released ‘A New Planning System for New South Wales - Green Paper’ which set out the major proposed reforms and responded to an Independent Review. Since then, there has been stakeholder engagement to develop the White Paper – A new planning system for NSW that sets out the details on how the new system will be implemented, and accompanying draft legislation. Public feedback is invited by 28 June 2013.
© Bruce Boyes 2008-2013
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