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    Area burned in Indonesia fires greater than the Netherlands – Al Jazeera English - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Tropical forest and peatland areas bigger than the Netherlands have burned in Indonesia in the past five years, Greenpeace has said, lambasting President Joko Widodos government for allowing the pulpwood and palm oil sector to act with impunity despite bearing considerable responsibility for the fire crisis.

    In a new report on Thursday, the prominent environmental group said some 4.4 million hectares (9.9 million acres) of land have burned in Indonesia between 2015 and 2019.

    About a third of those areas were located in palm oil and pulpwood concessions, it said, citing an analysis of official maps.

    However, despite government promises to punish companies found to be deliberately burning concessions particularly in the aftermath of the 2015 crisis that caused trans-boundary haze, affecting tens of millions of people across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore palm oil and pulp firms continue to operate with few or no sanctions, Greenpeace said.

    There has been no action against eight of the 10 palm oil companies with the largest burned areas in their concessions from 2015 to 2019, despite fires burning in multiple years within their concessions, it added.

    Further exacerbating the situation, Indonesias government and legislators recently passed a new law that dismantles environmental protections, Greenpeace said. The omnibus Job Creation law, drafted with the involvement of the plantation sector approved by parliament earlier this month, weakens liability for environmental crimes, the group said, as the palm oil and pulp sectors will be relieved of responsibility for prior damage they have inflicted on Indonesias peatlands.

    People protest against the new so-called omnibus law, in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 13, 2020 [File: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]The law which drew huge protests in Indonesia over fears of weakened labour rights will also protect the plantation sector from future liability for damage to the environment and fires in their concessions, the report said.

    Palm oil and pulp multinationals have practically set the rules in recent decades. Year after year they have broken the law by allowing forests to go up in flames, yet they evade justice and go unpunished, said Kiki Taufik, global head of Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaign.

    Measures like the pro-business Omnibus Law that ignore people and see nature as a bottomless resource to be extracted for short-term profit, can only have a catastrophic outcome for human health, human rights and the climate, he added, urging the Indonesian president, who is also known as Jokowi, to end this madness and veto the law.

    Palm oil plantation is pictured next to a burned forest near Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan province, Indonesia, September 29, 2019 [File: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]Indonesia, which has the biggest forests outside the Amazon and the Congo, is the worlds largest producer of palm oil and each year fires are linked to slash-and-burn practices used to clear areas for palm oil cultivation.

    Three of the five companies, Greenpeace said, had the largest burned areas in their concessions from 2015 to 2019 are suppliers to Indonesias biggest conglomerate, Sinar Mas Group, and one of the countrys largest pulp and paper companies, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

    A spokeswoman for APP, which is part of Sinar Mas Group, told Reuters news agency that APP has spent $150m on a fire management system, and that it continues to help local communities transition away from slash-and-burn land clearing towards more sustainable methods.

    Indonesias Ministry of Environment and Forestry did not comment immediately.

    In February, Widodo told government officials to find a permanent solution to the annual fires, and ordered more frequent patrols on the ground by security personnel across the country, especially in fire-prone areas.

    But in June, the environment ministry said, it had to scale back fire patrols because of budget cuts owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Link:
    Area burned in Indonesia fires greater than the Netherlands - Al Jazeera English

    Climate Point: Killings, land theft surge in Central America to feed our love of beef – USA TODAY - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Welcome to Climate Point, your weekly guide to climate, energy and environment news from around the Golden State and the country. In Palm Springs, Calif., Im Mark Olalde.

    Let's start with some electrifying perhaps chargednews. Only weeks after California announced a goal to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035, New Jersey began speeding down the same turnpike. E&E reports that the Garden State is the second state to make the commitment, calling for a similar ban, also by 2035.Who's next?

    Here's some other important reporting....

    A plume of steam billows from a coal-fired power plant.(Photo: AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

    Fossil future.The future of oil, gas and coal continues to get stranger as governments around the world slowly push to break our addiction to hydrocarbons.Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that the state's last operational coal-fired power plant shut down the other day, 20 years ahead of schedule. Meanwhile, The Guardian writes that the warming climate is making it more difficult for oil companies to operate in Alaska because the ground under their equipmentis thawing. In response, they're looking to install chilling devices to cool the ground so their product, which is causing the warming in the first place, can get to market.

    Something to chew on. The Center for Investigative Reporting and PBS NewsHour reportthat Nicaragua a beautiful but incredibly poor Central American countryis clearing land for cattle ranches to help feed the U.S. during COVID-19 outbreaks in American meat processing plants. The U.S. has sponsored multiple wars in Nicaragua, including a bloody coup in 1979. Now, ranchers selling to the U.S. appear to be destroying indigenous communities, killing peopleand stealing their land to meet demand.U.S. meat importers don't seem to be doing much about it.

    Flooding the housing market.Climate change is exacerbating extreme weather, making it costlier for homeowners to keep cleaning up after major storms. An NPR investigation has found that only about half of all states require that information on flood risk be disclosed to buyers. And, they write, "the flood and fire disclosure laws that do exist provide information in confusing ways or give too little information too late in the homebuying process."

    Swift & Co. miners creating slurry with pressurized water at a phosphate rock mine, photo dated 1941(Photo: File photo)

    Radioactive roadways.The Tampa Bay Times writes that the EPA reversed a decades-old rule last week, allowing "radioactive byproduct of phosphate mining to build roads." Florida is home to many of the country's phosphate mines, and that's left a billion tons of waste called phosphogypsum sitting in stacks. The EPA says the decision will decrease these piles and put the waste to a productive use. Environmentalists argue it's dangerous to build with radioactive material.

    Just sue, baby, sue.William Perry Pendley is one of the most controversial figures in an already controversial administration. Is he the director of the Bureau of Land Management? Is he just some guy who works there? Is his job illegal? It's unclear because the Department of the Interior where the BLM is housed keeps changing its answer. A judge said he had been acting illegally as the director without being confirmed by the Senate and revoked several decisions he made in Montana, leaving environmental groups champing at the bit to target more or his actions, Bloomberg reports.The judge recently denied that request, but WildEarth Guardians told me they're planning to move forward with separatechallenges to at least 16 resource management plans around the country.

    Making the Lakes Great again.Are you still undecided on whether to vote for President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden? Do you live in the Midwest? Well, you're in luck.Sarah Bowman and London Gibson of the Indianapolis Star are out with explainers analyzing what Trump would mean and what Biden would mean for the area. To boil it down, the candidates are diametrically opposed on the environment.

    A fisherman pulls his nets from the Gulf of Paria in Trinidad and Tobago.(Photo: Mark Olalde)

    Oil, gas, chemicals, mining. We've built a society reliant on materials that, when pulled from the ground or synthesized in labs, can make us and the environment sick. Even though our industries make a mess, we have never prioritized cleanup. This week's barrage of news provides examples of what happens when businesses are allowed to cut corners to maximize profits.

    Caribbean catastrophe.Just north of Venezuela, the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago has had a booming oil and gas industry for years. Now, its lifeblood is threatening its environment, asa vessel called the Nabarima, loaded with 1.3 million barrels of oil, appears to be slowly sinking just offshore.The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, the dual-island nation's oldest daily newspaper, has the details.This unfolding story caught my eye in part because I spent time there a few years ago investigating what the country's singulardependence on its oil and gas industry meant for its environmental movement. If you want more background, check it outhere (and forgive me, for I was still a young writer!).

    Mountain State mayhem.Chemical giant Union Carbide likely knew for more than a decade the extent to which toxic chemicals accumulated at and around one of its dumping sites adjacent to West Virginia's capital. It didn't report the data as required by law, however. This finding comes afterWest Virginia Public Broadcasting and local conservation groups pushed the courts to unseal new documents.

    Charged up about this battery recycler.The Los Angeles Times reports that a judge ruled last Friday that a bankrupt company called Exide Technologies could abandon its battery recycling plant in the middle of California's largest urban area. The decision, reporter Tony Barboza wrote, "marks the latest chapter in a decades-long history of government failures to protect the public from brain-damaging lead, cancer-causing arsenic and other pollutants from the facility."

    A rendering depicts NASAs OSIRIS-REx mission readying itself to touch the surface of asteroid Bennu.(Photo: courtesy of NASA, Goddard and University of Arizona)

    This story is outta this world.If you're like me, then for the past few months you've been tracking the progress of a little spacecraft that could. Called OSIRIS-REx, this machine is piloted remotely by NASA and is in the midst of a seven-year mission to touch down on an asteroid that's hurtling through space, collect a sample, relaunch and head back to Earth so we can analyze the material it picked up. The mission is the first of its kind, and OSIRIS-REx made contact with the asteroidBennu this week! Space.com has the story, complete with a video from NASA showing the moment of impact, which you should absolutely watch. It's not quite to the level of mining the moon like Trump wants no, seriously, I wrote about that here but it's one small step in that direction.

    Scientists agree that to maintain a livable planet, we need to reduce the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration back to 350 ppm. Were above that and rising dangerously. Here are the latest numbers:

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are again at record highs for this time of year.(Photo: Karl Gelles)

    Thats all for now. Dont forget to follow along on Twitter at @MarkOlalde. You can also reach me at molalde@gannett.com. You can sign up to get Climate Point in your inbox for free here. And, if youd like to receive a daily round-up of California news (also for free!), you can sign up for USA Todays In California newsletter here.Those COVID-19 numbers aren't looking great. Wear a mask! Cheers.

    Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/10/22/climate-point-killings-land-theft-surge-central-america-feed-our-love-beef/6005947002/

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    Climate Point: Killings, land theft surge in Central America to feed our love of beef - USA TODAY

    Nearly a third of Indonesia forest fires are in pulp, palm areas: Greenpeace – Reuters - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Forested areas greater than the size of the Netherlands have been burned in Indonesia in the past five years, with 30% of the fires occurring on pulpwood and palm oil concessions, environmental group Greenpeace said on Thursday.

    Greenpeace said analysis of official data showed 4.4 million hectares (10.8 million acres) of land burned over 2015 to 2019, with 1.3 million hectares of that lying in the concession areas.

    The groups report said eight of the 10 palm companies with the largest burned areas in their concessions for the five years have not been sanctioned.

    Indonesias new jobs creation law, which activists say favours businesses at the expense of the environment, is rolling out a red carpet for more deforestation, it also said.

    Year after year they (companies) have broken the law by allowing forests to go up in flames, said Kiki Taufik, head of the Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaign.

    Indonesias environment and forestry ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

    In February, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered government officials to find a permanent solution to prevent annual forest fires.

    Indonesia has the biggest forests outside the Amazon and Congo and environmentalists say its remaining reserves may be exploited under the new labour law.

    The government says the law aims to boost investment and competitiveness and create better quality jobs.

    Among the changes in the new law that worry environmentalists is the removal of a minimum forest area.

    Indonesian islands were mandated to have 30% forest cover per island, a benchmark policymakers call arbitrary and want replaced with more relevant metrics.

    Three of the five companies Greenpeace said had the largest burned areas in their concessions from 2015 to 2019 are suppliers to Indonesias biggest conglomerate, Sinar Mas Group, and one of the countrys largest pulp and paper companies, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

    A spokeswoman for APP, which is part of Sinar Mas Group, told Reuters that APP has spent $150 million on a fire management system, and that it continues to help local communities transition away from slash-and-burn land clearing towards more sustainable methods.

    A spokeswoman for Golden Agri-Resources, the palm oil arm of Sinar Mas Group, could not immediately provide comment.

    GAPKI, Indonesias palm oil association, declined to comment and referred Reuters to the environment ministry.

    Reporting by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Martin Petty and Tom Hogue

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    Nearly a third of Indonesia forest fires are in pulp, palm areas: Greenpeace - Reuters

    The United Nations at 75: successes, failures and challenges – Gainesville Sun - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    opinion

    Saeed R. Khan| Guest columnist

    The idea of an international body to promote global peace started with President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom. In August 1941, they signed the Atlantic Charter outlining the goals of war against Germany, Italy and Japan.

    The U.S. joined the war effort in December 1941 and on January 1, 1942, the Declaration by United Nations was signed in Washington by 26 allied nations led by the U.S., U.K. and Soviet Union. The United Nations Charter was finalized in April 1945 in San Francisco, signed by representatives of 50 countries on June 26 and finally became operational on October 24, 1945 75 years ago this weekend.

    The General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the U.N. Secretariat are six main parts of the U.N. The central mission of the U.N. is the maintenance of international peace and security, which is accomplished by preempting and preventing conflict, and by persuading parties in conflict to make peace and improving the conditions to preserve peace.

    Over the past 75 years the U.N. and its agencies have worked on a wide range of issues. They include maintaining peace and security, disarmament, clearing land mines, and the prevention of nuclear proliferation and genocide. The U.N. has also worked on counter-terrorism, the peaceful use of outer space, delivering humanitarian aid, providing food, sustainable development, environmental protection, disease control, human rights, gender equality and the promotion of rule of law in national and international relations.

    The U.N. is credited with helping negotiate 172 peaceful settlements and helping more than 30 million refugees. It has provided safe drinking water to more than a billion people and food to millions of people across 80 nations. It has assisted countries with their elections, provided vaccinations for children, helped millions of women with maternal health and protected human rights through some 80 treatise and declarations.

    Currently, approximately 100,000 peacekeepers from 120 countries are serving in 13 missions. The U.N. and its agencies have had success in coordinating global efforts against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, cholera, influenza, yellow fever, meningitis and COVID-19, and has helped eradicate smallpox and polio from most of the world. Ten U.N. agencies and U.N. personnel have received Nobel prizes for peace.

    Unfortunately, the U.N. also had many failures, such as stopping the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In addition, U.N. aid workers were blamed for spreading cholera in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Allegations of sexual misconduct and rape were leveled against U.N. peacekeepers in Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Haiti and other countries. The U.N. oil for food program in Iraq was accused of corruption. U.N. peacekeepers were unable to stop the Srebrencia massacre of around 8,000 Bosnian Muslims who fled to a U.N.-declared safe-zone in 1995.

    When the U.N. was established in 1945 and its charter was signed, there were 50 members. The great powers of the time, who were on the winning side of the world war the U.S., the U.K., France, China and the Soviet Union became permanent members of the Security Council, which currently includes an additional 10 members who are elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term.

    Every member of the Security Council, from St. Vincent with a population of 111,000 to China with over 1.3 billion, has one vote, but permanent members have veto powers. The General Assembly is now composed of 193 members.

    A few of the challenges facing the U.N. include a burgeoning bureaucracy, creeping unilateralism, the non-representative Security Council with abuse of veto power by permanent members, powerful members ignoring U.N. charter and resolutionsand a lack of youth involvement.

    A number of ongoing crises are indicative of U.N. inaction and paralysis, including Russias takeover of part of Ukraine; China occupying disputed territories in South China Sea; the Iraq War; the Israel-Palestine conflict; civil wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the treatment of Rohingyas in Myanmar, Ughyurs in China and Kashmiris in India

    Still, the U.N. and multilateralism are popular throughout the world. More than a million people U.N. survey and dialogues through global consultation, UN75: The Future We Want, the UN We Need. They found that over 87% considered global collaborations vital to facing global challenges and 74% deemed the U.N. essential in tackling those challenges. They showed major concerns for the environment and climate change.

    A survey of U.S. citizens by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found 7 out 10 Americans would like the U.S. to more actively participate in global affairs. The Gainesville chapter United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) celebrated the anniversary on Oct. 24, and discussed some of these issues. For more information, visit http://una-usagainesvillefl.org.

    Saeed R. Khan is president of UNA-USA/Gainesville.

    More here:
    The United Nations at 75: successes, failures and challenges - Gainesville Sun

    Debris burn permits required starting Oct. 15 The Courier – Courieranywhere - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Trees being cleared and burned on a vacant lot at the corner of Guinn Street and DeFord Street in Savannah last Thursday.

    The Tennessee Department of Agricultures Division of Forestry is reminding citizens to follow simple safety practices to prevent wildfires and obtain a debris burn permit for leaf and brush piles.The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15, at which point obtaining a burn permit is required.We encourage Tennesseans to remain vigilant, practice safe debris burning, and get a permit to prevent wildfires, said State Forester David Arnold.Debris burn permits for leaf and brush piles are available online at no charge. For larger, broadcast burning, such as forestry, agricultural, and land clearing, call your local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The online system for permits and phone numbers can be found at http://www.BurnSafeTN.org. The number to call in Hardin County is 877-350-2876.Permits are issued only when conditions are conducive to safe burning. If you live inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with your municipality before you burn.A list of materials that may not be burned can be found in the open burning guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at https://bit.ly/3jI5j4T.The Division says burning without a permit, a Class C misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.Anyone with information about suspected arson activity can call the state Fire Marshals Arson Hotline at 800-762-3017. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, and you may remain anonymous. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction. To report illegal burning, call 888-891-TDEC.

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    Debris burn permits required starting Oct. 15 The Courier - Courieranywhere

    NSW Liberals betray koalas and back down to National Party – Echonetdaily - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Aslan Shand

    The changes that the National Party have demanded to the Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), that passed in the NSW Legislative Assembly (Lower House) yesterday, will ensure that koalas are extinct in the wild by 2050, say experts in the field.

    The Inquiry into Koala Populations and their Habitat in New South Wales recognised that the 1994 Koala SEPP had failed to adequately protect koalas and their habitat and that the regulatory framework for private native forestry does not protect koala habitat on private land.

    During yesterdays debate local Ballina MP Tamara Smith said, It is the such a shame to see what I regard as the most idealogical bill I have seen during the six years I have been in this place before the Parliament. It is a perfect example of the term un-logic, which has been described around the world. It is not ignorance or stupidity; it is reason distorted by suspicion and misinformation. It is an Orwellian stat of mind that arranges itself around convenient fictions and ignores established facts [the] science is being sidelined and replaced by negotiation and politics. It is a tragic day. Our iconic koalas are headed towards extinction and thats whats at stake.

    Before the Black Summer fires in 2019/20 northern NSW koala numbers had declined by 50 per cent over the previous 20 years. The Black Summer fires burnt approximately 30 per cent of likely koala habitat according to North East Forest Alliance (NEFA).

    Yet the NSW Liberal Party have put forward the Local Land Services Amendment (Miscellaneous) bill 2020 that is not only a massive step backwards for koala protection in NSW, but also removes many other critical environmental protections on private land, according to Greens MP and Chair of the Inquiry into Koala Populations and their Habitat, Cate Faehrmann.

    This bill isnt a compromise on the new koala policy. It takes koala protections back 25 years, at a time when we need to be strengthening laws to protect koala habitat. We lost maybe 10,000 koalas in NSW in the Black Summer fires. If this bill passes, the government may as well sign their death warrant, said Ms Faehrmann.

    The updated Koala SEPP has been years in the making, but now all that hard work has been scrapped to appease the National Party and the powerful timber and farming lobbies.

    NEFA spokesperson, Dailan Pugh, says that the NSW government has introduced a bill which, if enacted, will condemn the koala, and many other species, to extinction. On the North Coast 61 per cent of high quality koala habitat occurs on private property, pointed out Mr Pugh.

    These proposed changes are clearly intended to make the Koala SEPP ineffective and remove most of the few hard won gains made over the past 25 years.

    Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive, Chris Gambian, points out that, Nothing in this bill helps ensure koalas survive beyond 2050. But it does mean property developers could bulldoze koala trees without needing an approval.

    Analysis of the bill by the Environmental Defenders Office has found that the bill allows for: unregulated land clearing of koala habitat not already identified in rural areas; the prevention of expanded koala habitat protection on private farmland into the future; and the exemption of Private Native Forestry operations from important development consents, with their durations doubled from 15 to 30 years.

    After making a great song and dance about standing up to the Nationals, it seems the NSW Liberals have backed down completely, said Evan Quartermain, head of programs at Humane Society International (HSI).

    All members of parliament are being called on to use their conscience and vote the bill down.

    We need to try to convince our local parliamentarians to vote against it (or at least abstain), said Mr Pugh.

    At a time when koala populations are crashing, with climate change induced droughts and fires decimating survivors, and predictions of extinction in the wild by 2050, it is reprehensible that the Berejiklian government is changing the rules to remove protection for core koala habitat so as to allow it to be logged and cleared indiscriminately, says Mr Pugh.

    The National Party stopped north coast councils from rezoning land for environmental protection in 2012, they stopped the Byron and Tweed Coastal Koala Plans of Management being approved in 2015, and now National Party MP Ben Franklin has promised the Shooters [and Fishers] that e-zones will not be created in relation to any koala plans of management.

    Thanks to the Nationals, councils are not allowed to protect koalas or protect anywhere from logging.

    It is the height of hypocrisy for Byron Bay-based National Party representative on the koala inquiry, Ben Franklin, to find [as part of the Inquiry] that the regulatory framework for private native forestry does not protect koala habitat on private land and that it is unacceptable that land identified as core koala habitat can be cleared because of departmental delays in approving koala plans, to now to claim in parliament that there is no need to protect core koala habitat from logging and clearing. Ben Franklin needs to be held to account.

    Conversely his colleague in the koala inquiry, Ballina-based Liberal, Catherine Cusack, needs to be supported in her stance against National Party bullying and encouraged to vote down these draconian measures intended to reverse protections for koalas and hasten their extinction.

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    NSW Liberals betray koalas and back down to National Party - Echonetdaily

    ‘We have to change Queensland’: the environmental issues at stake in the election – The Guardian - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    When David Springett executed a perfect underwater marriage proposal to his girlfriend three years ago, her response in the affirmative gave him another reason to love the Great Barrier Reef.

    Springett, 45, from Cairns, sells diving gear to shops and training centres the length of the Queensland coast. He talks to lots of tourists and tourism operators, and dives for fun every few weeks.

    But he is starting to fear that, like the reef, his livelihood could be on borrowed time. I cant imagine therell be any diving industry if the reef dies off, he says.

    The Springett family which now includes one-year-old Summer have just moved inland from a beach suburb to Kuranda, 300 metres up in the tablelands, because of worries about rising sea levels caused by global heating.

    Springett, a former diving instructor, is retraining as an electrician and is hoping to snag an apprenticeship with an eye on a job in a renewable energy boom in the state.

    This is a transition that Queensland is now facing on a statewide scale as it heads to an election on 31 October. Can it break away from fossil fuel extraction and develop jobs and growth in a way that protects its remarkable landscapes and ocean wonders?

    Selling a message of hope and prosperity that retains the states global brand of corals, beaches and rainforests is one that, according to Nick Heath, no political party has been able to achieve.

    We dont have a political party that can nail that narrative, he says.

    Heath has seen Queensland elections from every available angle. He has led environmental groups campaigning on climate and the Great Barrier Reef, lobbied on behalf of the seafood industry and been an adviser to four Labor ministers after switching from management consultancy.

    We have the horns of a dilemma in Queensland, he says. We have some of the most important environments on the planet and thats not coming from me just take David Attenboroughs word for it.

    When Attenborough, the 93-year-old natural history documentary maker-turned environmental activist, is asked to name his favourite place on Earth, his answer will invariably be north Queensland.

    Attenboroughs apparent love for Queensland above all other places is illustrative, Heath says.

    To an outsider, Queenslands reputation is firmly fixed by the biggest reef, the cutest critters and the whitest sands, but Heath says voters are apathetic and politics are stuck in an adversarial cul-de-sac.

    No party, he says, has managed to sell a policy path forward that brings industry and sustainable growth together in a way that doesnt use the environment as something to be burned through.

    If we want to change Australia, then we have to change Queensland, he says. The challenge to the environment movement is how do we monetise a more sustainable economy and help the economy transition to a better place.

    On the face of it, the environmental tensions in this Queensland election appear to pitch producers in rural areas against government intervention.

    Graziers and sugarcane growers are lining up against the Labor governments new laws that will allow the state to control the amount of pollution running into reef catchments.

    Some have latched on to the claims of the contrarian scientist Dr Peter Ridd, who says farm runoff is not harming corals and that the reef is not in need of saving. Rapid loss of corals, three mass bleaching events in five years, the federal governments main science agencies and the marine park authority suggest otherwise.

    The federal Coalition backed a Senate inquiry into the states water quality laws and found that the science underpinning them was sound.

    The fight over water regulations has been amplified for a year or more in the pages of the states New Corp Australia newspapers.

    In May the Liberal National party failed in parliament to disallow parts of the rules. It has hinted that if elected it would introduce legislation locking in unspecified levels of control.

    Heath says the dominant Murdoch media helps to set the narratives of rural versus city and greenies versus producers including the row about the water quality rules which, he points out, have not even been enforced yet.

    Its not real, he says of the conflict.

    He blames what he calls agripolitical groups in farming and fishing that to justify their existence are loud, vocal and antagonistic and drown out more reasonable voices. Whether theres actually a problem or not, they have to agitate and create fear just to maintain their business model, Heath says.

    We have such an apathetic electorate and we need to engage so much more because our understanding is so impaired by the mainstream media.

    If we were fully informed then so many more of us would be attuned to the issues at stake and then wed be more concerned at the standards of debate and the quality of the futures being put in front of us.

    In Townsville, Dr Maxine Newlands is a political scientist at James Cook University who has studied how environmental issues fit into peoples daily conversations and are treated by media.

    Theres almost been a complacency from some quarters around the natural beauty that we have, she says. There are people here in Townsville who have never been on the reef, yet they live here. That speaks to the politics and the lack of engagement with these beautiful places.

    Some editors wont put climate change on the front page. Its all about pushing jobs and growth.

    This week the Queensland Conservation Council tried to energise the campaign with analysis showing that moving the state to 100% renewable energy was feasible, possible and could generate 10,000 construction jobs, then 11,000 ongoing jobs.

    During an online environment forum organised by QCC, the states environment minister, Leeanne Enoch, the LNP spokesman, David Crisafulli, and the Greens MP, Michael Berkman, debated the reef regulations, climate policy and the need for more protected areas.

    Crisafulli moved quickly to try to hose down fears an LNP government would lead to a weakening of the states land-clearing laws, the Vegetation Management Act.

    The last LNP premier, Campbell Newman, weakened the act in 2013 and land-clearing rates skyrocketed, to the extent the state was labelled a global land-clearing hotspot.

    The Palaszczuk government reintroduced restrictions in 2018 but Gemma Plesman, the Queensland campaigns manager for the Wilderness Society, says she is waiting for data to see if those changes have slowed clearing.

    In 2018, she says, before the Labor government passed the laws, annual land-clearing was at 392,000 hectares the equivalent of bulldozing a Gabba-sized forest every three minutes.

    A WWF-Australia commissioned study estimated land clearing at those rates was killing about 1.1 million mammals, 3.7 million birds and 39.9 million reptiles a year.

    Crisafulli has pledged that an LNP government would retain protections for land within 50 metres of a reef watercourse, with another category covering areas protected by covenants or used for offsets.

    But Plesman says the LNP has so far been silent on a category of vegetation that supported millions of native animals and threatened species. There are still loopholes in current laws that allow clearing, she says.

    About 32m hectares of land in Queensland is mostly open to land clearing under the current laws, she says, yet there is evidence those areas have regrown to habitat that could support threatened species.

    Land clearing as a political issue tends to get ignored, especially in inner-city seats, but Plesman says people care.

    The Wilderness Society has polled three marginal seats in south-east Queensland Springwood, Mansfield and Chatsworth and Plesman says 71% of voters said they were concerned about land clearing and its impact on koalas.

    We need politicians to know that just because people are understandably stressed through Covid, people also havent forgotten about this, she says. Weve lost 80% of koala populations in south-east Queensland and 50% across the state.

    This month the Palaszczuk government released a 10-year protected area strategy and retained a pledge to have 17% of the state under protection, in line with UN convention targets. The state now has 8% of its land area under some form of protection.

    Conservationists say the strategy, which included an extra $60m in funding, is a good start but it lacks timelines and the funding is well below what is needed.

    Heath says Queenslands fame internationally as a place rich in species and natural wonders from reefs to ancient rainforests should put environmental protections central to policy debates.

    Theres no greater risk to the global environment than here in Queensland, he says. We have enormous value and enormous stakes, but our debate is about other things entirely.

    Originally posted here:
    'We have to change Queensland': the environmental issues at stake in the election - The Guardian

    The Concord Vineyard Improvement Program enters year 3 | News, Sports, Jobs – Evening Observer - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    PORTLAND Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua Countys Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is heading into the third of five years of the Vineyard Improvement Program.

    October 2020 marks the sweet spot of the program. There is still the maximum amount of time available for removal and replant. The program allows for one year to complete the Concord removal and two more years to complete the replant. Many applicants havent needed quite that much time, but some do, often depending on what commodity is being replanted. For more information, visit lergp.com and click on the big purple Vineyard Improvement Program button.

    Applicants need not be grape growers. Many of the abandoned Concord vineyards around have probably been willed to family who have no interest in growing grapes, or the vineyards just were no longer profitable and fell into disrepair. Landowners are welcome to apply. Proof of Concord will be required, and the land must be replanted to an agricultural commodity. Replants have included field crops, cover crops, hay fields, vegetable plots, orchards and vineyards even Concord vineyards.

    The Vineyard Improvement Program is a reimbursement program that will issue one check at the completion of the project. Applicants can be reimbursed 50% of their costs up to $1,500 per acre for Concord vineyard removal, and 25% of their costs up to $1,500 per acre for replant. Eligible costs include labor, equipment use, custom hire, land clearing, trellis, plant material, tiling if needed. Seed crops are not eligible for reimbursement.

    So far there have been 22 applicants to the program, eight of whom already have their projects completed and have received their reimbursement checks. To date more than $148,000 has been paid out and over 107 acres of unwanted/uncontracted Concord vineyards have been replaced with another agricultural commodity.

    The program is provided by New York Ag and Markets and is paid for by the Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement Program. It is available to the Southern Tier of New York which for this program includes the following counties Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins and Tioga.

    For more information, Kim Knappenberger (ksk76@cornell.edu), Kevin Martin (kmm52@psu.edu) or Jennifer Phillips Russo (jjr268@cornell.edu).

    Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

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    The Concord Vineyard Improvement Program enters year 3 | News, Sports, Jobs - Evening Observer

    Slowly but surely, county officials are getting Beech-Nut site ready for re-use – Times Union - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    CANAJOHARIE This village is like a number of Mohawk Valley Rust Belt communities along Interstate 90 where the industrial base left years ago with nothing to replace it.

    And Canajoharie has an additional challenge: sky high water and sewer rates, thanks to the debt incurred to service what had been the villages economic mainstay.

    While the village was updating their water-sewer infrastructure, the Beech-Nut baby food plant that had been here since 1905 was preparing to leave.

    By 2011, Beech-Nut was at a new plant 22 miles away in the town of Florida, which is also in Montgomery County.

    Now, village leaders, Montgomery County officials and economic developers are hoping the abundant water that is available could be a drawing card to bring in a manufacturer, perhaps another food processing facility, on the 27-acre site that has sat empty for nearly a decade.

    A heavy water user would be nice, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort said Tuesday during a brief media tour of the plant for reporters and for U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, whose 19th Congressional District includes Canajoharie.

    Even though officials on Monday had no revelations of tenants or firm plans for the complex, they wanted to make it clear that they are making steady progress in preparing the site for a new user. They recently completed asbestos and mold removal on the plants west side, which faces the villages small, quaint downtown area.

    And the east side of Canajoharie Creek, which divides the site, has already been cleared and is just about shovel ready.

    While asbestos removal and land clearing over 10 years may seem like a snails pace for progress, Ossenfort and others explained the work is in part regulated by the flow of state or federal money required to remediate the hazards and knock down the old buildings.

    The most recent work was funded by $6 million in state Restore NY funds. County officials are constantly on the lookout for new funding streams to pay for the work.

    Ossenfort said theyve already heard from developers who would like to put a truck stop on the propertys east side, but theyve said no since that wouldnt generate enough jobs. Light manufacturing or a food plant would work on the east side, he said, and theyd like to keep the building's original faade on the west side intact to house smaller businesses or even shops. They would also like to build a clear connection with the Mohawk River-Erie Canal, which is a stones throw away.

    Despite the slow movement, the success of the Florida Business Park suggests that the region can still attract employers.

    In addition to Beech-Nut, that 800-acre park has Dollar General, and Target warehouses. And most recently, online retailer Amazon has put in a last mile center where items are prepared for local delivery. They are currently hiring, said county economic development Director Ken Rose.

    Part of that parks success is its size, noted Canajoharie Mayor Jeff Baker. It was also one of the reasons Beech-Nut moved as there was not space to expand in the village. Were landlocked, he said.

    Delgado said he was encouraged by what he was seeing and pledged to help push for any federal money that might be available for the site preparation work. We can lend our name to support for grant funding, he said.

    Canajoharie is at the northwestern corner of the first-term Democrats 19th Congressional District. Ossenfort and Baker, who wore a Dont Tread on Me baseball cap, are both Republicans.

    That didnt seem to matter as they were happy to see Delgado who, equipped with a flashlight, gamely toured the darkened, empty hull of the old factory.

    Im going to give him the benefit of the doubt, Baker said of Delgado.

    rkarlin@timesunion.com 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

    Continued here:
    Slowly but surely, county officials are getting Beech-Nut site ready for re-use - Times Union

    Total forested area burnt in Indonesia bigger than Netherlands – The New Paper - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    SINGAPORE: Forested areas greater than the size of the Netherlands have been burnt in Indonesia in the past five years, with 30 per cent of the fires occurring on pulpwood and palm oil concessions, environmental group Greenpeace said yesterday.

    Greenpeace said analysis of official data showed 4.4 million ha of land burned over 2015 to last year, with 1.3 million ha of that lying in the concession areas.

    The group's report said eight of the 10 palm companies with the largest burnt areas in their concessions for the five years have not been sanctioned.

    Indonesia's new jobs creation law, which activists say favours businesses at the expense of the environment, is "rolling out a red carpet" for more deforestation, it also said.

    "Year after year, they (companies) have broken the law by allowing forests to go up in flames," said head of the Greenpeace South-east Asia forest campaign Kiki Taufik.

    Indonesia's Environment and Forestry Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

    Three of the five companies Greenpeace said had the largest burnt areas in their concessions from 2015 to last year are suppliers to Indonesia's biggest conglomerate, Sinar Mas Group, and one of the country's largest paper companies, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

    A spokesman for APP, which is part of Sinar Mas Group, said it has spent US$150 million (S$204 million) on a fire management system, and that it continues to help local communities transition away from slash-and-burn land clearing towards more sustainable methods.- REUTERS

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    Total forested area burnt in Indonesia bigger than Netherlands - The New Paper

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