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This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including the recently agreed negotiating position of the European Union at COP28, the implications of record-low water levels in the Amazon River, and a controversial referendum on Indigenous rights in Australia.

1. Amazon River Levels Hit Historic Low Amid Rapidly Worsening Brazil Drought

The Amazon River saw its lowest level since records began in 1902 on Monday amid a prolonged drought that has left countless Indigenous communities stranded without fuel, food, and drinking water in recent weeks.

Authorities in the Brazilian state of Amazonas reported a new low record near the port of Manaus, where the Rio Negro and the Amazon River – the largest river by volume and the second-longest in the world, meet. On Monday, water levels at the port fell to 13.59 metres (44.6ft), four metres below last year’s level and the lowest in more than a century, breaking the previous all-time low record set in 2010. 

“We have never seen anything like this. It is the worst drought in history,” said Amazonas governor Wilson Lima.

Read more here.

2. Australia Overwhelmingly Rejects Plan to Give Greater Rights to Indigenous People in Divisive Referendum

A plan to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in Australia’s 122-year-old constitution and address centuries of abuse and neglect has been overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum on Saturday.

Conceived by Indigenous leaders to address growing disparities in their communities, the so-called ‘Voice to Parliament’ proposal to create an advocacy committee to offer advice to parliament on policies that directly affect Indigenous Australians was rejected by more than 60% of voters and across all six states.

Albanese’s Labor Party, the left-wing Greens Party, some independent lawmakers as well as several religious, ethno-religious, and welfare groups all supported the referendum, which has sparked reflections on Australia’s colonial legacy.

Read more here.

3. EU Member States Approve ‘Ambitious’ COP28 Negotiating Position Despite Failing to Agree on New Emissions Reduction Target

EU environment ministers on Monday approved the bloc’s negotiating position at the upcoming COP28 summit in Dubai, agreeing to push for a “fully or predominantly decarbonised global power system” in the next decade with “no room for new coal power.”

The 27 member countries also agreed to push for a phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and an end to fossil fuel subsidies, all prerequisites for a net-zero future. The word “unabated” is highly controversial among environmentalists, as many believe it leaves room for continues fossil fuel production and usage through carbon capture and storage technology. In a statement, the Council said it recognises that cost-effective emissions reduction measures are readily available, though carbon capture technologies are still limited and “should not be used to delay climate action.”

Read more here.

4. Antarctica Lost 7.5tn Tonnes of Ice Since 1997, Study Finds

More than 40% of Antarctica’s ice shelves have been steadily shrinking since 1997, with almost half of them showing no sign of recovery, a new study has found.

The alarming discovery by researchers at the University of Leeds is a red flag, signalling a critical turning point in the ongoing battle against global warming. The findings depict that a place, once considered impervious to change, is now revealing the stark reality of our climate crisis. 

The team of scientists behind the study embarked on a daring mission to explore the dynamics of Antarctica’s ice shelves. What they uncovered is nothing short of alarming: from 1997 to 2021, the continent lost a staggering 7.5 trillion metric tonnes of ice. While the eastern part of Antarctica experienced a gain of 59 trillion tonnes, the western region suffered a catastrophic loss of 67 trillion tonnes. 

Read more here.

5. Current World Electricity Grids Too Weak to Sustain Energy Transition, IEA Warns

Reaching national climate targets and putting the world on track to net zero emissions by 2050 will require huge efforts in improving global electricity grids which, in their current state, are not deemed suitable to support the energy transition, a new study has suggested.

In a first-of-its-kind, country-by-country analysis on the state of the world’s electricity grids published Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said major investments were needed to upgrade what is considered the “backbone of today’s electricity systems.” According to the Agency, approximately 80 million kilometres (50 million miles) of electricity grids worldwide need to be added or refurbished by 2040, the rough equivalent of doubling the entire existing global power infrastructure.

The report also encourages countries to double annual investments in electricity grids – which the IEA says have been stagnant for over a decade – to more than US$600 billion each year by 2030. According to the study, delays in grid reform would lead to a “substantial” increase in carbon dioxide emissions, slowing down the energy transition and effectively putting the Paris Agreement goal out of reach. 

Read more here.

For tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia have sustainably cultivated, managed, and conserved the continent’s lands, waterways, and seas. Their profound connection with and respect for Country remind us of the intricate interrelations between humans and the ecosystems of which we are part. Thankfully, through First Peoples’ ecological collectives and Indigenous Protected Areas, this traditional wisdom is appreciatively centred and applied in contemporary Australia.

Disclaimer: This article avoids the designations “Indigenous Australians/Peoples” because, according to Reconciliation Australia, some individuals may perceive these terms as offensive. Moreover, the Torres Strait is also known as Zenadh Kes. And, with consideration for the “nothing about us without us” sentiment, we would like to clarify that the author of this article is not a member of these communities.


First Nations Australians and Their Connection to Country

In Australia, the terms “First Nations,” “First Peoples,” “Aboriginal Australians,” and “Indigenous Australians” are used for convenience to refer to a wide range of distinct peoples, with living cultures and diverse languages. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are estimated to have arrived on the continent between 50,000 and 65,000 years ago. For tens of thousands of years, their reciprocal, sustainable relationships with nature, or Country, has valued their varied ancestral lands, waterways, and seas. 

But the concept of Country extends beyond physical, tangible places. It includes belief systems, symbolism, and spirituality. Country is all lifeforms, including “people, plants and animals … seasons, stories and creation spirits.” Similarly, Dreaming or Dreamtime describes a spiritual link to “everything around us and beyond us.”

Further, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Country is seen as a person, too. Like human life, it is alive and deserves protection. 

Regarding ecological management and conservation, just as Land provides for people, people in turn manage and preserve Land. This view of nature – of which we are part, and which supports and sustains us – reminds us of the fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence of biodiversity and ecosystems. We are a piece of the natural whole.

In the words of Ambelin Kwaymullina, from her book Living on Stolen Land: “Human beings / might not speak the language / of other forms of life / might not know / their law / all their culture-ways / but this does not mean / those ways do not exist / or that other life / is not family.”

The identities of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are tied with their Country, culture, and community. Welcome to Country writes that “caring for Country” encompasses all activities in Aboriginal terrestrial and marine regions that seek to encourage ecological, spiritual, and human wellbeing.

You might also like: Daintree Rainforest: World’s Oldest Rainforest Returns to Australian Aboriginal People

First Peoples’ Land Cultivation and Fire-Stick Farming

It is a popular notion that diverse indigenous peoples, prior to colonisation or modernisation, always lived in mutual harmony with nature. But this certainly does not mean they never modified or managed the natural environment.

In the Australian context, prior to European arrivals, First Nations peoples controlled and maintained the continent’s landscapes (and plants and animals) through wide-ranging practices. These agricultural and other land cultivation activities were sustainable and contributed towards healthy ecosystems. Practices included:

To this day, First Peoples continue to engage in fire-stick farming, also known as fire farming, cultural burning, or cool burning. Although combining “fire” and “Australian bush” might seem concerning, fire has always been central to rejuvenating the continent’s bushland. Over millennia, First Nations peoples have developed sophisticated fire management techniques, such as fire-stick farming.

The process involves using sticks (or matchsticks) to light small, controlled fires during the cool, early dry season – between March and July. These fires remove the underbrush, creating a patchy land mosaic with fire breaks. So, fire farming helps prevent the vegetation build-up that, left unchecked, fuels the hot, uncontrolled bushfires that rage during summer. And cultural burning not only reduces these uncontrolled bushfires but their associated carbon emissions. 

Further, as night dew cools the fires, ideal times to set these fires are nights and early mornings. Hence the alternate name cool burning. First Australians have long adapted their techniques to suit a particular region’s conditions. For instance, they considered the ecosystem’s habitats, moisture levels, soils, and vegetation. Doing so allowed them to control how, when, and where to appropriately light these slow-burning, cool fires.

Along with preventing blazing, hot wildfires, cultural burning serves other purposes, according to the Watarrka Foundation. These include:

Fire-stick farming has ecological, societal, and spiritual benefits. It also offers modern economic benefits, such as lowered carbon emissions. Remembering the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, during which 6.2% of New South Wales was burnt, we can see why traditional cool burning is so crucial. The City of Sydney has thus partnered with the Aboriginal Carbon Foundation, a not-for-profit run by First Nations peoples that provides carbon farming services.

Beyond cultural burning, First Peoples have traditionally harnessed fire for other reasons. This resource from the University of Melbourne cites motives such as taming “thick and prickly” vegetation, attracting wild animals to hunt, facilitating the growth of vegetation, and developing “useful food plants, [and] for cooking, warmth, signalling and spiritual reasons.”

Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) in Australia

An essential element of reconciliation is acknowledging the deep connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with Country. They have conserved, cared for, and managed the continent’s landscapes and seas for time immemorial. First Nations peoples have literal millennia of knowledge, passed down intergenerationally, about how to properly conserve Country.

These facts illustrate the importance of Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs). An Indigenous Protected Area is an Australian land and/or sea region safeguarded by Traditional Owners, via a voluntary agreement with the Commonwealth Government. The IPA program was established by the government back in 1997. 

As of 2023, there are now 81 dedicated Indigenous Protected Areas, covering over 87 million hectares. This means they represent a size larger than the state of New South Wales. Also, IPAs comprise roughly 45-50% of Australia’s National Reserve System, which is “the network of protected areas – including National Parks – that stretches across Australia.” First Peoples rangers funded by the government manage activities in around 70% of IPAs.

Originally, IPAs were based on native land tenure; however, their scope was broadened to be based on Country. This means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have increased governance and planning power over “land and sea areas over which they have limited legal rights, including over existing national parks and marine parks.” Thus, IPAs allow First Australians to manage and conserve both terrestrial and ocean territories, ensuring the protection of the continent’s unique biodiversity, including its rich animal and plant life.

First Nations’ Environmental Initiatives in Australia

Along with Indigenous Protected Areas, organisations, movements, and indigenous corporations led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are also crucial for maintaining ecological stability. The following are a few of the environmental, climate justice, and land management collectives run by First Australians.

The Arafura Swamp Rangers Corporation was founded in 2013 to represent a network of eight ranger groups who collectively care for 14,000 square kilometres of north-east Arnhem Land. Together, they represent the interests of the Yolngu and Bi peoples of the Northern Territory. The Arafura Swamp, also known as Gurruwiling, has been listed as a Key Biodiversity Area. The rangers care for Country through numerous activities, such as managing fires and sea Country, protecting threatened species, and mapping and archiving.

Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation is an initiative and community of practice centred around fire-stick burning. The alliance was established to keep alive and share traditional understandings, connect communities, record cultural wisdom, and provide training and on-the-ground planning. 

As just one example, the Firesticks Alliance has sought to identify the goals and values inherent to cultural burning, finding that responses covered “natural, spiritual, economic, educational and social domains and encompass[ed] values that are both similar and different from mainstream environmental management.”

The Our Islands Our Home campaign, led by the Torres Strait 8, seeks to reverse the effects of climate inaction for the Torres Strait Islands. Rising sea levels, coral bleaching, and land erosion already threaten homes, sacred and cultural sites, burial grounds, and freshwater reserves in the territory. 

The campaign’s five demands include, among others, 100% renewable energy for Zenadh Kes, a quick transition from fossil fuels, and programmes for locals to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network is the first climate action movement for First Australians youth. It was founded with the awareness that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at the forefront of climate change, and that the world’s younger populations will be most affected by the climate crisis. The network is by and for First Nations youth only. Seed’s mission is to create a just future with renewable energy and strong cultures.

Final Thoughts

First Nations environmental management in contemporary Australia has been cited as a model from which other countries can learn. Collectively, these strategies comprise both First Peoples’ initiatives and movements, and government–First Nations collaborations, such as Indigenous Protected Areas (spanning 50% of the continent’s protected land). 

With tacit and explicit ecological wisdom passed down for millennia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a wealth of invaluable knowledge to share about sustainable land and sea conservation.

You might also like: Indigenous People Are Essential for Preventing Biodiversity Loss. They Mustn’t Be Sidelined.

All six Australian states voted ‘No’ to a plan to change the more-than-a-century-old constitution to grant greater rights to Indigenous people in the country. The ‘Voice to Australia’ referendum was initiated by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to empower these communities and reduce inequalities they face in education, health, and poverty.

A plan to enshrine an Indigenous voice to parliament in Australia’s 122-year-old constitution and address centuries of abuse and neglect has been overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum on Saturday.

Conceived by Indigenous leaders to address growing disparities in their communities, the so-called ‘Voice to Parliament’ proposal to create an advocacy committee to offer advice to parliament on policies that directly affect Indigenous Australians was rejected by more than 60% of voters and across all six states.

Albanese’s Labor Party, the left-wing Greens Party, some independent lawmakers as well as several religious, ethno-religious, and welfare groups all supported the referendum, which has sparked reflections on Australia’s colonial legacy.

Despite having inhabited the land for about 50,000 to 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, two distinct cultural groups that make up Australia’s 983,700 Indigenous peoples – or nearly 3.8% of the entire population, are not mentioned in the constitution and are by most measures the most disadvantaged ethnic minority in the country.

Indigenous populations plummeted following the arrival of British colonisers in 1788, who dispossessed them of their lands, forced them to work in slave-like conditions, and brought new diseases, though their marginalisation continues to this day. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders track well below national averages on most socio-economic indicators and are often victims of violence and imprisonment. Life expectancy among them is about eight years lower than non-Indigenous people, who have one of the world’s highest life expectancies, and a suicide rate twice the national average.

Saturday’s vote is a major setback to the country’s efforts for reconciliation with its First Peoples. It was not the result Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has championed the referendum, had hoped for.

“For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, this campaign has been a heavy weight to carry and this result will be very hard to bear,” Albanese said following Saturday’s vote. “So many remarkable Indigenous Australians have put their heart and soul into this cause, not just over the past few weeks and months but through decades, indeed lifetimes of advocacy.”

Leading No campaigner Warren Mundine told  the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the referendum should never have been called, arguing it was “built on a lie that Aboriginal people do not have a voice.”

On Saturday, Albanese said his government remains committed to improving the lives of Australia’s Indigenous people and would seek “a new way forward.”

More on the topic: How First Peoples Land Management Is Helping Conservation in Australia

Just months after the UN announced that the ozone layer is on track to fully heal by 2040, a new study revealed that the 2020 Australian bushfires contributed to its depletion, raising concern about the layer’s recovery in a warming planet.

Changes in atmospheric chemical composition were observed over Southern Hemisphere mid-latitudes following the 2020 Australian bushfires, suggesting that smoke from the fires depleted the ozone layer, new research suggests.

According to the study, published Wednesday in Nature, smoke from the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires – which burnt 42 million acres, destroyed thousands of buildings and killed dozens of people and up to 3 billion animals – temporarily depleted the ozone layer by 3% to 5%.

It is not the first time that scientists have warned of the threats that wildfires pose to the ozone layer. A study published early last year suggested that smoke from the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires resulted in a 1% decrease in the ozone in March 2020, already a significant number if considering that it takes a decade for the ozone layer to recover 1-3%. In another study published around the same time, researchers found that wildfire smoke led to a rise in compounds, such as hypochlorous acid, which react with ozone molecules to break them apart. 

You might also like: 3 Things to Know About Australia Wildfires and Bushfires

The ozone layer is a region of the earth’s stratosphere that serves as a protective shield against the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, where exposure can result in increased risks of skin cancer. Its loss was once regarded as humanity’s most dangerous environmental challenge. 

First used for fridges in 1928, it was not until the 1970s that scientists realised chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could react with atmospheric ozone, producing oxygen and depleting the protective ozone layer. Once this was established, a global effort was made to combat the use of CFCs in household applications like refrigeration units, air conditioning, and aerosol cans. The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, first formed in 1985, and its Montreal Protocol, adopted in 1987, represented the first global effort to combat human-driven climatological effects.

After countries agreed to phase out CFCs under the Vienna convention, the hole in the ozone shield kept growing until the year 2000. During this period, however, bromine and chlorine levels in the Antarctic stratosphere declined by 16%. Fast forward to 2019, and the ozone hole had diminished to its smallest since the 1980s at a peak area of 16.4 million km2.

ozone layer; ozone layer graph; ozone layer is healing

The extent of ozone depletion in 2019 was the smallest in almost 40 years of satellite records and observations. Source: NASA Earth Observatory Image, developed from data gathered by NASA Ozone Watch and Global Modelling and Assimilation Office.

“In the absence of any major changes, we expect that stratospheric chlorine concentrations will gradually decrease this century and that the ozone hole will get smaller year by year,” Dr Laura Revell, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, told The Guardian.

“Of concern is that while the ozone hole usually forms over Antarctica because of the cold temperatures there, wildfire aerosols appear to be capable of promoting ozone losses at the relatively warmer temperatures present at mid-latitudes which are heavily populated.”

The findings come just months after the United Nations and the World Meteorological Association announced that the ozone layer is on track to being fully healed by 2040. But while the ozone layer’s recovery remains one of history’s most successful climate restoration stories, scientists warn that changes in policies and climate change-related events such as wildfires could still delay the recovery.

You might also like: Ozone Layer Restoration Is Back on Track as Harmful Chemicals Phased Out, UN Says

As November temperatures in Australia reached their highest since 1985, experts fear a series of mass coral bleaching events for the second summer in a row. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s longest and largest coral reef ecosystem.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef should be classified as a world heritage “in danger”, a UN panel recommended on Tuesday.  

The world’s largest and longest coral reef ecosystem, already threatened by climate change and warming oceans, risks another mass bleaching event for the second consecutive summer as Australia’s temperatures reached record highs this November. 

“According to NOAA’s [US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] predictions there’s a good chance we will see another back-to-back bleaching event,” said Professor Terry Hughes, a leading expert on coral bleaching at James Cook University in Queensland. “That was not supposed to be happening until the middle of this century.”

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon in which coral reefs expel the microscopic marine algae called zooxanthellae that live in their tissues when under stress – be it heat, ocean acidification, or human activity – and as a result, causes corals’ tissues to become transparent and lose its signature vibrant colours, exposing its white exoskeleton underneath.

The most notable mass bleaching events occurred in 2016 and 2017, leading to the disappearance of a stunning 50% of Australia’s famous reef. While major efforts have since been put in place to reduce coral bleaching, the scale of mortality has proven increasingly difficult for the reef system to regrow and replenish, a report by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) suggested.

Earlier this year, Australian government scientists confirmed the reef was undergoing its sixth mass bleaching event on record, with more than 90% of the corals surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef this year found to be bleached.

Under the new leadership of the recently elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Australia’s labour government pledges to spend AU$1.2 billion (US$800 million) to protect the Great Barrier Reef in coming years. The party also increased the country’s climate targets ahead of COP27, committing to a 43% emission reduction target by the end of the century.

You might also like: Frequency of Australia Bushfires and Extreme Weather Events Set To Increase As Climate Crisis Worsens, Report Warns

Among the most pressing environmental issues that need to be addressed are food production and food waste. Thankfully, we now have a multitude of sustainable technologies that can help us grow food without destroying our planet. One of them is insect farming. Founded in 2019, the agri-tech start-up FlyFarm has positioned itself as a leader in this rapidly growing market, growing black soldier fly larvae on organic waste to reduce emissions and produce sustainable protein feed.

The Protein Crisis

Driven by the relentless human population growth – the global demand for proteins is set to increase by about 60% by 2050. Besides this exponential increase, what is truly concerning is the fact that current protein production utilises extremely unsustainable methods. Traditional farming systems put tremendous pressure on our environment, contributing to the depletion of already stressed wild fish stocks and water sources. 

To meet the need for protein to sustain a global population of 10 billion people by 2050 sustainably, new farming methods are required. But what’s the best solution? An increasing number of experts would answer this question with two words: insect farming. 

Insect Farming: All You Need to Know

Insects are incredibly easy to raise due to their fast reproduction rates and they are also incredibly high in protein. Believe it or not, insects such as mealworms, crickets, and black soldier fly larvae have been shown to provide significantly more protein than meat.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of producing edible insects for human and animal consumption is that they can be raised on food waste. Modern insect farms can produce low-cost protein by upcycling organic waste. It doesn’t stop here. When coupled with renewable energy, the production process also has a significantly lower carbon footprint. Research suggests processing waste through insect bioconversion generates up to 90% less greenhouse gases compared to landfill or composting. Additionally, insect farming saves about 100 times the CO2 emissions and requires between 50% and 90% less land in comparison to conventional livestock, freeing up space for the cultivation of foods for human consumption. 

Given the multitude of benefits, it comes as no surprise that the insect protein market is growing extremely rapidly and is expected to be worth US$10 billion by 2030. According to data from Dealroom.co over 400 companies worldwide have so far taken up the challenge of producing protein feed from insects and the number is set to grow very rapidly in the coming years. One of them is FlyFarm. Striving to develop insect farms as a means of producing animal feed, the agri-tech company headquartered in Singapore hopes to address some of the food chain’s most pressing issues. We sat down with Constant Tedder, FlyFarm’s Founder and CEO, to discuss how black soldier fly larvae are grown for pet as well as poultry and fish feed.

You might also like: Entomophagy: An Easy-To-Digest Solution to Save the Planet

How FlyFarm Is Shaping the Insect Farming Sector

Founded in 2019 by serial entrepreneur and passionate sustianability advocate Constant Tedder and Andres Crabbe, FlyFarm Worldwide Ltd., the agritech start-up builds black soldier fly larvae biorefineries which bioconvert organic waste to reduce emissions and produce sustainable protein for pet and animal feed. 

The company has successfully raised in excess of US$5 million in two seed rounds to develop their highly automated first cloud-connected pilot farm in Brisbane, Australia, where the livestock industry contributes about AU$31 billion (US$22 billion) to the national economy annually. 

“Our vision is for a world where pets, farmed fish and poultry are fed with sustainable protein from insects reared on organic waste,” explains Tedder. 

Since its inception, FlyFarm has been working with several waste partners to secure different types of organic food waste to feed their black soldier fly larvae, including on-farm waste, waste from the agribusiness and food preparation, unsold food from retailers as well as food and beverage manufacturing waste. 

FlyFarm’s insect choice is not coincidental. Black soldier fly larvae have enormous potential. These wide ranging insects are super converters of organic waste with an incredibly high growth rate. Not only can they eat 50 times their body weight in basically any type of food waste but female flies can also deposit between 200 and 600 eggs a day which hatch after about four days, making them an extremely prolific species. Moreover, black soldier fly larvae are very rich in protein and amino acids, which makes them an excellent food source for pets, poultry, and fish.

Headquartered in Singapore, Tedder and Crabbe work with a team of passionate and skilled engineers and biologists located in Brisbane – where they operate a demonstration plant that proves their subsidiary FlyFarm Systems insect farming robotics and automation technology – and are now looking to expand the business in Australia. The company has recently embarked on an innovative collaborative joint research partnership with James Cook University (JCU) with the intent to better understand and advance Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae production at industrial scales.

insect farming

FlyFarm Systems builds robotics and software to automate the farming process. Image: FlyFarm.

By striving to tackle the joint problems of emissions from waste and the sustainability of protein supply chains – FlyFarm is addressing some of the most pressing environmental issues while generating high-value products, abating GHG emissions from waste and promoting a circular economy:

“The problems we are addressing are organic waste and the emissions and costs that it generates – as well as the unsustainable supply of protein for growing pet food and aqua feed markets.” – explains Tedder.

“Our ambition is to build the world’s largest network of highly automated insect farms – operating on our scalable technology platform producing traceable sustainable protein for large commercial buyers seeking to improve their Scope 1 and 2 emissions. In 10 years we can have a network of FlyFarms in every continent.

Final Thoughts

Insect production on a large scale requires a fraction of the land, water, or energy, as other ways of producing farmed protein. BSFL and many other farmed insect species can be fed using organic food waste or bi-products from agricultural, food processing, or manufacturing processes. In addition to lowering emissions and generating value from waste – the product insect protein meal itself displaces unsustainable sources of protein still widely used such as fishmeal made from pelagic or ocean caught fish. 

Earth.Org believes that there is a gargantuan opportunity to recycle organic waste and believes companies like FlyFarm are showing that insect bioconversion eliminates emissions at the same time produces high-value sustainable protein. 

Challenges remain for post-consumer waste around waste segregation and incentives for consumers to ensure their waste is free of contaminants. Governments should focus on ensuring that organic waste can be recycled.

You might also like: 11 Effective Solutions for Food Waste

Australia bushfires and other climate change-induced weather events will be more frequent and intense in the coming year, a new report warned on Wednesday. 2022 was Sydney’s wettest year on record in nearly two centuries.

A study published on Wednesday warned that Australia would experience a drastic rise in bushfires, floods, and heatwaves in the years ahead as climate change intensifies. Global greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are at the highest levels in at least two million years.

The outcomes of the seventh biennial climate report by the Bureau of Meteorology and the national science agency CSIRO, which analyses year-to-year viability and long-term changes in Australia’s climate, are alarming. 

You might also like: 3 Things to Know About Australia Bushfires

Since records began in 1910, temperatures in Australia have increased by an average of 1.47C, leading to more frequent heat events and longer and more intense bushfire seasons. Sea surface temperatures have also increased by an average of 1.05C, resulting in mass coral bleaching events, marine heatwaves, and tropical cyclones.

australia bushfires

Line chart of the temperature anomaly relative to the 1961 to 1990 average, in degrees Celsius, from 1910 to 2021, for temperatures over Australia and for sea surface temperatures in the Australian region. Source: CSIRO

Coral reefs play a significant role in ocean habitats and the ecosystem for marine life. But they have suffered devastating and possibly irreversible effects within the last few decades due to a number of man-made activities and influences. Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest and longest reef system, and also one of the most threatened. The most notable mass bleaching events occurred in 2016 and 2017, and a stunning 50% of Australia’s famous reef died as a result. While major efforts have since been put in place to reduce coral bleaching, the scale of mortality has proven difficult for the reef system to regrow and replenish.

Sea levels are also rising faster than ever, the report said, increasing the risk of inundation and damage to coastal infrastructure. The northern and southeastern parts of the continent are the most affected by sea level rise.

Australia has also been experiencing increasingly intense weather events that experts attribute to climate change – especially within the last decade – including devastating bushfires and droughts. Simultaneously, the weather phenomenon known as La Niña, which refers to trade winds that blow from the Pacific Ocean that bring more rainfall and cloudiness to Australia, has caused a surge in storms and floods since early 2021. New South Wales and Queensland have experienced several record ‘rain-bombs’. 2022 was Sydney’s wettest year in 164 years

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

You might also like: Australia’s Wildlife And Habitats Are Disappearing Rapidly: Report

Flooding in Australia has been a cause of concern in recent years. On Tuesday, heavy rain in South East Wales sparked rapidly rising water levels, forcing thousands to evacuate and leaving hundreds of homes without power.

Heavy rain triggered flash flooding in South East Wales on Wednesday, damaging homes and businesses and forcing thousands of people to evacuate high-risk areas. 

In less than 24 hours, some areas received more than a month’s worth of rain, resulting in roads, bridges, and farms across the state being submerged and forcing many to seek shelter on roofs and trees.

Cowra, a city about 166 miles (106 kilometres) west of Sydney, got 121 millimetres of rain in the 24 hours to Monday morning – the highest rainfall in 118 years, according to official data.

Between Monday and Tuesday, the NSW State Emergency Service performed more than 200 flood rescues and received nearly 1,000 requests for help.

“The velocity was extremely fast – too fast in many cases to put boats in the water – hence the evacuations we performed yesterday with the 12 assets we had on hand via helicopter,” State Emergency Service Cief Superintendent Dallas Burnes told Nine’s Today programme.

Flooding in Australia isn’t new. In recent years, the country has been affected by unprecedented rainfall. Scientists associate these extreme events with a weather phenomenon known as La Niña, trade winds that blow across the Pacific Ocean affecting weather systems differently depending where you are in the world. 

While La Niña typically brings warmer and drier temperatures to the western and southern US, creating optimal drought conditions, in Australia, the phenomenon is associated with more rainfall and cloudiness. Just a month ago, a third consecutive La Niña weather event sparked severe flooding in Australia. Earlier this year, entire cities and towns across Queensland and New South Wales were submerged following a record-breaking ‘rain bomb’ that experts described as a once-in-a-century event.

Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

You might also like: What’s Behind the Record-Breaking Extreme Weather Events of Summer 2022?

Australia is home to some of the world’s most unique and rare animal species. However, since European settlements in 1788, the country has experienced widespread habitat destruction and degradation, and the introduction of non-native predators such as cats and foxes, causing more than 100 endemic species to go extinct over the past 200 years. According to a recent study, Australia’s wildlife has also experienced unprecedented losses, with 202 new animal and plant species making the list of threatened species between 2016 and 2021. Many more animals are currently threatened or at risk of extinction as urban development and bushfire events persist. Here are 10 endangered species in Australia that are in dire need of protection.

Most Endangered Species in Australia

1. Koala

Undoubtedly the most iconic animal species in Australia, koalas unfortunately have been hit hard in recent years due to a combination of factors including severe bushfires and droughts, and persistent habitat loss from land clearing. As koalas are arboreal, meaning that they spend most of their lives in trees, losing forest land critically impacts the survival of the species. Within the past three years, the koala population has plummeted down from eight million to 32,000 with many experts fearing that the marsupial will go extinct very soon. Every region across Australia saw a decline in population with zero evidence of any upward trends. In some areas, the loss has led to only five to 10 koalas remaining. 

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2. Mountain Pygmy-possum

One of the starkest examples of a species facing extinction due to climate change, the Mountain Pygmy-possum is a tiny mammal no larger than a mice that are only found in the snowy mountain tops in Victoria and New South Wales. The marsupial goes through a prolonged hibernation over winter of up to seven months under two to four metres of snow. With rising temperatures, the length of time snow stays on mountain tops are lessened, shortening the possum’s hibernation period and impacting its food foraging activities. Along with added impacts from the 2019-2020 summer bushfires, losing critical habitats as a result, the species is highly vulnerable with only about 2,000 individuals left in the wild. 

3. Long-footed Potoroo

This small kangaroo-like marsupial can mostly be found in southeast Victoria and up across the border with New South Wales. Much like significant portions of wildlife in Australia, the long-footed Potoroo was severely impacted by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and lost much of its range and habitats. However, the animal has played a crucial role in the recovery of burnt areas, dispersing the spores of a fungi in its droppings that helps re-establish plant life in the affected areas. The Potoroo remains listed as Endangered in both the states of Victoria and New South Wales, as well by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Estimates place less than 2,500 individuals left in the wild and the species’ population continues to decline and fragmented from other factors like timbering and predators. 

greater glider, endangered species in australia Image by: Dash Huang/Flickr

4. Greater Glider

With soft toy-like bushy ears and tail, the Greater Glider is a nocturnal animal that travels the highest parts of the forest canopy across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria at night while denning in hollowed trees by day. Recent bushfires have destroyed the majority of its critical habitats while logging activities in the country saw its population drop by 80% within the last 20 years. Though the species is currently listed as vulnerable, experts predict they will likely become endangered in the next five years as land clearing and other destructive practices for urban development continue. 

5. Numbat

Also known as the banded anteater, the Numbat exclusively feed on termites – up to 20,000 every day – with its long sticky tongue. Land clearing, habitat loss and predation by feral predators such as cats, foxes, dingoes and birds of prey have driven the species to lose 99% of its historical range by the 1970s, pushing the animal to be endangered as a result. There are two naturally occurring populations remaining in the southwestern portion of Western Australia. While other populations have been reintroduced in New South Wales and South Australia, there are still only less than 1,000 individuals left in total in the country. 

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6. Regent Honeyeater

As its name suggests, the Regent Honeyeater feeds primarily on nectar from a small number of eucalypt plant species and other plant sugars. These birds play a crucial role as pollinators for many flowering plants. They can mainly be found in eucalypt forests and woodlands but land clearing, fragmentation and degradation of its natural habitats as well as competition for nectar from larger, more aggressive honeyeaters have driven its population to drop by more than 80% within three generations. The honeyeater is now listed as critically endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 with only just 300 individuals remaining in the wild. The species has become so threatened that scientists have found that it has started to lose its bird’s song

orange-bellied parrot, endangered species in australia Image by: Wikimedia Commons

7. Orange-bellied Parrot

One of only three migratory parrot species in the world, the Orange-bellied Parrot migrates from Tasmania to coastal Victoria and South Australia to spend autumn and winter every year. While habitat loss and degradation are contributing factors, increased predators and noxious weeds as well as disease in their breeding region have all pushed the bird species to the brink of extinction – some estimates within three to five years – with only up to 50 mature individuals remaining. The lack of female parrots in the wild also makes it difficult to help with species recovery. 

8. Eastern Quoll 

The Eastern Quoll was once found throughout south-east Australia and has disappeared from the mainland Australian for more than half century due to disease, predation by foxes, feral cats and domestic dogs, poisoning and persecution. Today, they can only be found in Tasmania. This nocturnal catlike carnivorous marsupial not only hunts for invertebrates such as spiders, cockroaches and grasshoppers but also rabbits, mice and rats, acting as natural pest control and helping maintain the ecosystem. Other threats such as vehicle collision and trappings in some areas continue to hinder conservation efforts. 

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9. Eastern Curlew

The Eastern Curlew is the largest shorebird in the world where it uses its impressive bill to dig through mud for crabs and molluscs. Wetland destruction and alteration to the chain of coastal wetlands along their migratory path, which have been degraded by urban development, flood mitigation, agriculture and pollution, have caused its population to plummet by more than 80% in the last 40 years, and is now critically endangered species in Australia. Additionally, the shorebird is also impacted by bycatch in fishing nets, disturbance of nest sites and degradation of coastal mudflats.

10. Woylie

Once widespread throughout Australia, this rabbit-sized marsupial has been threatened by the introduction of predators of foxes and cats, causing their rapid decline. Disease, competition with rabbits for food and impact from grazing animals from agricultural activities have all contributed to its status as a critically endangered species in Australia. Woylie plays an important role in the desert ecosystem as they disperse fungal spores that help native plants grow. Losing this species could have long-term effects on the larger natural environment. 

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Australia has joined 111 other countries in signing the global methane pledge launched at COP26 last year to collectively reduce methane emissions by at least 30% below 2020 levels by the end of the decade. 

On Sunday, Australia’s Climate and Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced that the country is joining the COP26 methane pledge led by the US and the European Union. The move, Bowen said, will help avoid 2C of global warming. 

Australia is the world’s 11th biggest emitter of methane, a gas that is 84 times more potent in trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a two-decade period and possesses global warming potential 25 times more than carbon dioxide. The extremely potent gas is a major contributor to total GHG emissions, second only to carbon dioxide (CO2). 

Two-thirds of the global economy and half of the top 30 major methane-emitting countries – which together account for 45% of global human-induced methane emissions – joined the global methane pledge at COP26 last year. All signatories commit to taking voluntary actions to collectively reduce emissions of the potent gas by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

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Following Sunday’s announcement, Australia became one of the last major developed economies to sign on to the global effort to slash methane emissions. The decision also marked the latest push by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to make climate change a priority, following years of inaction and climate-denial under former PM Scott Morrison.

Bowen also added that the country is not planning to introduce a methane tax or levies to reduce livestock emissions. Earlier this month, the government of New Zealand announced that it will start taxing farmers by 2025, the world’s first nation taking such step to reduce agricultural emissions. 

According to a recent energy think tank Ember analysis, the cheapest way for Australia to cut methane emissions is to reduce leaks from coal mines. The study found that this could reduce annual emissions by approximately 18% by the decade’s end.

In 2021, increased activity in wetlands and deliberate vents by oil and gas companies have caused methane concentration in the atmosphere to hit a record high of 1,900 parts per billion, a number that is nearly three times the pre-industrial levels, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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