Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Improve National Security by Importing Less Oil

Malcolm Maiden is right when he says in Today’s Age that reducing our oil imports could make Australia safer. He says every barrel of oil saved would tighten the funding equation for Islamic State and its supporters, and that the connection between oil money and terrorism is toxic and chronic. This is true. An analysis for Thomson Reuters last year by Jean-Charles Brisard and Damien Martinez found that 38 per cent of Islamic State funding comes from oil sales. It also gets money from donations, and some of the money behind the donors comes from oil sales.

The methods we have used so far to defeat Islamist terrorism ever since Osama Bin Laden’s September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre have not been successful, and the world is every bit as dangerous as it was then, arguably more so. Given this, it makes sense to me to do everything we can to throttle the funding sources for Islamic State and other Islamist terrorists. Transitioning out of oil and into electric vehicles and battery storage technology would be an excellent place to start. And the UN Climate Change talks in Paris would be a deeply appropriate time and place for the world to become fair dinkum about this transition.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Predicted Hot Summer Means Danger for Bird Species

The forecast hot summer is causing concern among ecologists regarding danger for woodland birds and frogs.

This comes on top of the protracted millennium drought of 1996 to 2010, the effects of which are still being felt where kookaburras and superb fairy wrens declined and have not properly recovered since. As reported in today’s The Age, ecologist Dr Dale Nimmo has said more than half our bird species experienced a substantial reduction in their population.

This decline affects the broader ecosystem as birds play a key function as pollinators and pest controllers.

In a paper co-written by Dr Nimmo, he and his colleagues outline the importance for species of adequate tree cover which enhances their resilience in tough times such as during a drought. The more tree cover you have, according to Dr Nimmo, the more birds are able to survive a drought.

In the report the authors say that woodland bird communities in landscapes with larger areas of tree cover retained a larger proportion of their species richness during the Millennium Drought. Vegetation cover can influence the resistance, resilience and stability of species in an extreme weather event, events that are becoming more common as a result of climate change.

The impact of climate change, with more droughts and other extreme weather events, makes it all the more important that we protect, restore and enhance Australia’s native vegetation.