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    Category: Land Clearing


    Fires in The Amazon Are Causing Glaciers to Melt Faster in The Andes – ScienceAlert - December 4, 2019 by admin

    If you have turned on a TV or read the news during the past few months, you have probably heard of the widespread fires that wrought havoc on the Amazon rainforest this year.

    Fires occur in the rainforest every year, but the past 11 months saw the number of fires increase by more than 70 percentwhen compared with 2018, indicating a major acceleration in land clearing by the country's logging and farming industries.

    The smoke from the fires rose high into the atmosphere and could be seen from space. Some regions of Brazil became covered in thick smoke that closed airports and darkened city skies.

    As the rainforest burns, it releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and larger particles of so-called "black carbon" (smoke and soot). The phrase "enormous amounts" hardly does the numbers justice in any given year, the burning of forests and grasslands in South America emits a whopping 800,000 tonnes of black carbon into the atmosphere.

    This truly astounding amount is almost double the black carbon produced by all combined energy use in Europe over 12 months. Not only does this absurd amount of smoke cause health issues and contribute to global warming but, as a growing number of scientific studies are showing, it also more directly contributes to the melting of glaciers.

    In a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of researchers has outlined how smoke from fires in the Amazon in 2010 made glaciers in the Andes melt more quickly.

    When fires in the Amazon emit black carbon during the peak burning season (August to October), winds carry these clouds of smoke to Andean glaciers, which can sit higher than 5,000 metres above sea level.

    Despite being invisible to the naked eye, black carbon particles affect the ability of the snow to reflect incoming sunlight, a phenomenon known as "albedo".

    Similar to how a dark-coloured car will heat up more quickly in direct sunlight when compared with a light-coloured one, glaciers covered by black carbon particles will absorb more heat, and thus melt faster.

    By using a computer simulation of how particles move through the atmosphere, known as HYSPLIT, the team was able to show that smoke plumes from the Amazon are carried by winds to the Andes, where they fall as an invisible mist across glaciers.

    Altogether, they found that fires in the Amazon in 2010 caused a 4.5 percent increase in water runoff from Zongo Glacier in Bolivia.

    Crucially, the authors also found that the effect of black carbon depends on the amount of dust covering a glacier if the amount of dust is higher, then the glacier will already be absorbing most of the heat that might have been absorbed by the black carbon. Land clearing is one of the reasons that dust levels over South America doubled during the 20th century.

    Glaciers are some of the most important natural resources on the planet. Himalayan glaciers provide drinking water for 240 million people, and 1.9 billion rely on them for food.

    In South America, glaciers are crucial for water supply in some towns, including Huaraz in Peru, more than 85 percent of drinking water comes from glaciers during times of drought.

    However, these truly vital sources of water are increasingly under threat as the planet feels the effects of global warming. Glaciers in the Andes have been receding rapidly for the last 50 years.

    The tropical belt of South America is predicted to become more dry and arid as the climate changes. A drier climate means more dust, and more fires. It also means more droughts, which make towns more reliant on glaciers for water.

    Unfortunately, as the above study shows, the fires assisted by dry conditions help to make these vital sources of water vanish more quickly. The role of black carbon in glacier melting is an exceedingly complex process currently, the climate models used to predict the future melting of glaciers in the Andes do not incorporate black carbon.

    As the authors of this new study show, this is likely causing the rate of glacial melt to be underestimated in many current assessments.

    With communities reliant on glaciers for water, and these same glaciers likely to melt faster as the climate warms, work examining complex forces like black carbon and albedo changes is needed more now than ever before.

    Matthew Harris, PhD Researcher, Climate Science, Keele University.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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    Fires in The Amazon Are Causing Glaciers to Melt Faster in The Andes - ScienceAlert

    ‘I worry about every one of them’: the volunteers who rescue injured wildlife – The Guardian - December 4, 2019 by admin

    It encapsulated the horror engulfing New South Wales: the footage of a koala mewing in pain as its habitat burned around it. The rescue of that animal, saved from the Long Flat blaze by a woman using her shirt as a shield, went viral.

    But the bushfires have injured and displaced vast numbers of other creatures, many of which no longer have homes. Who rescues them and what does that involve?

    Kristie Newton works as campaign manager for the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (Wires), an organisation that, in normal times, says it cares for tens of thousands of hurt or distressed animals each year.

    But these are not normal times.

    We are completely inundated at the moment, she says. This is the biggest event we have ever dealt with.

    Australias flora and fauna have evolved to coexist with fire but not with fires of such intensity. Wires search and rescue teams still cant access many affected areas, even as people in towns or outer suburbs report injured animals fleeing into backyards or roads.

    We probably wont know what were looking at for about a month or so, maybe longer, until we can really go in and start to get more animals out. But weve lost a lot of habitat, so its not only directly affecting the animals now, but will continue to affect them for years to come.

    Its a sentiment echoed by Vickii Lett, a veteran carer with Clarence Valley Wires.

    Shes dedicated her property in Lightning Creek near Grafton to caring for wild creatures, so much so that she takes an instant to recall just how many shes currently sheltering.

    Ive got three flying foxes, one koala, three no, four! redneck wallabies (one of which is burned), and one wallaroo. Oh, and a boobook owl.

    A volunteer since 1988, Lett has never experienced fires of such ferocity, affecting such a vast area.

    This is man-made; weve done it, she says.

    At the same time, she worries that the immediate crisis might cloak the broader wildlife emergency, the everyday devastation of deforestation and land clearing.

    When youre a wildlife carer, fairly early you realise that you might be able to fix animals, but youve got to have somewhere to put them. Theyre not pets, but when I release them, I worry about every one of them. Theyve got to have a home and a food supply.

    Wires offers a short rescue and immediate care course that equips people to work with common species.

    Volunteers can nominate their level of commitment. They can decide to be carers or rescuers or both or help with various administrative tasks.

    Some take on additional training to specialise in particular animals anything from koalas to venomous snakes.

    Thats how Kristina-Lee Willis, a 29-year-old from Corindi Beach (two hours north of Port Macquarie), ended up with Teddy, the baby sugar glider.

    Originally, Willis wanted to rescue bats to break down the knee-jerk reaction that ewww theyre disgusting, but the first course available focused on possums and gliders.

    Then, during the recent blaze, a crew clearing firebreaks on an isolated road near Glenreagh found a glider joey on the ground.

    It was so sweet: this big burly bloke who was driving the dozer carried her crooked up in his arm all the way back to their base. A lady made the call to Wires and then another two gentlemen drove her to the Golden Dog pub in the middle of Glenreagh. And I took her from there.

    A little glider means a lot of work.

    Teddy named after the dozer driver who cuddled her only drinks a special milk formula.

    Shes very clever, says Willis, with maternal pride. She doesnt need a bottle. She laps at milk from the tiny little spoon or from the bottle cap.

    But thats just the beginning.

    Now shes older, shes getting little bugs like crickets and meal worms and some moths when I can catch them, though thats really tricky. And also some sap. She likes to chew on some branches and lick at blossoms as well.

    Teddys gaining weight and will, with luck, make a full recovery.

    But shes just one animal and so very, very many need help. At the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, the volunteers feel that strain.

    The facility boasts 14 intensive care units and can house up to 50 animals.

    Hospital president Sue Ashton worked in the corporate world before retiring to Port Macquarie two years ago, and then taking up a vacancy on the hospital board. I enjoyed my old job. But this is so satisfying working with wild animals and seeing them rehabilitated back into the wild.

    Yet after the recent fires, she fears for the long-term future of the species.

    In places like the Lake Innes nature reserve, as many as two-thirds of wild koalas seem to have died, incinerated by the astonishing heat. Those that survived were dehydrated; many had been burned on their paws, noses and mouths.

    Weve got to cut the dead skin off, bathe their wounds, then treat them with a cream for burns and bandage them, Ashton says. Were giving them a low lactose milk supplement, for extra nutrients and hydration some of them arent eating leaves because their mouth is burnt. The really bad ones have gone into home care. Some might need to be fed more frequently; they need to have their noses rubbed with cream or something like that.

    Many of the centres 150 volunteers currently come in almost daily, and their physical exhaustion exacerbates the toll of watching animals suffer.

    Burns are, after all, notoriously difficult to heal. Several of the injured koalas, including the one rescued at Long Flat, have had to be euthanised.

    Nicole Blums, from Brisbanes Rescue Collective, knows how shattering wildlife volunteering can be.

    She established her group specifically to help resource frontline carers, providing them with basic materials as well as little gifts to lift their spirits.

    Over the last nine days, she says, Wires has received nine carloads and trailer loads of resources from us. That includes medical supplies, drugs for the animals, formulas, feeding bottles, joey pouches, bat wraps: anything that they need to be able to spend more time with the animals.

    A fortnight ago, her group consisted of four women; now its grown to about 20.

    Like the other volunteers, shes been appalled by the fires; like them, shes been buoyed by the community response.

    Working in rescue, you see a lot of bad things and you can begin to hate the human race, Blums says. But every time we start to think its too much, its too heavy for our hearts, we open a box and we find a letter from one of our supporters or a drawing from one of the kids. Her voice catches slightly. That gives us strength to know that we are making a difference and that we have so much behind us now that we cant stop.

    The rescue organisations need donations. They also need volunteers. But Wires Kristie Newton stresses that its possible for anyone to help native animals, just by taking very simple steps.

    If people are in an area thats affected by fire or even by heat, if they can leave bowls of water for birds and animals, thats fantastic.

    Likewise, a cardboard box and towel kept in your car can help contain an injured animal, if its possible to do so safely.

    If you do encounter any injured animals, she says, call your local wildlife group and get them help as soon as possible. It really can save lives.

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    'I worry about every one of them': the volunteers who rescue injured wildlife - The Guardian

    Over 160 nations agree to speed land-mine clearing – The Japan Times - December 4, 2019 by admin

    OSLO AFP-JIJI The 164 signatory countries to the Mine Ban Treaty agreed Friday to accelerate the work to achieve the goal of a mine-free world in 2025, Norways foreign ministry said.

    According to an annual report by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, 6,897 people were killed or injured by mines and other explosive remnants of war in 2018 the fourth year in a row with exceptionally high numbers of recorded casualties.

    Of those, 3,789 were victims of so-called improvised mines, the highest recorded number to date.

    Under the Oslo Action Plan adopted on Friday, states undertake to identify mined areas and put in place national plans for mine clearance.

    They also commit to measuring their progress in the final stretch before 2025, the goal set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in 1997.

    The meeting in Oslo was the last in a series of five-year meetings to implement the treaty drafted in 1997, which helped to put an end to virtually all use of land mines by governments, including those that did not sign it.

    Armed groups are, however, increasingly using improvised anti-personnel mines. According to Landmine Monitor, nonstate groups used this type of weapon last year in at least six countries: Afghanistan, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen.

    Since the treatys adoption nearly 58 million mines have been removed by clearing minefields and destroying stockpiles, according to Norway.

    Efforts to rid the world of these weapons were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, which was given to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and U.S. citizen Jody Williams.

    See more here:
    Over 160 nations agree to speed land-mine clearing - The Japan Times

    Fraser River the most critically endangered river in B.C: Outdoor council – Vancouver Sun - December 4, 2019 by admin

    The combined impacts of habitat destruction, fisheries management and climate change on the Fraser River are at their most damaging point since the Outdoor Recreation Council began compiling data 40 years ago.

    Steelhead runs in the largest tributaries of the Fraser are on the brink of extinction. The spawning population in the Thompson watershed is estimated to be 86 fish, according to a recent update from the ministry of forests, lands and natural resources. The Chilcotin watershed has only 39 steelhead likely to spawn.

    Non-selective net fishing for salmon is undercutting conservation and habitat restoration efforts intended to save the Fraser River steelhead from blinking out of existence, said Mark Angelo, chairman of the 100,000-member ORC.

    Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has employed rolling closures of commercial and First Nations salmon fisheries that suspend fishing in areas where most of the steelhead pass as they leave the Pacific Ocean and enter the Fraser River.

    The model they used to rationalize opening the pink and chum fisheries this year was the same model that was found to be scientifically unsound during the Species at Risk Act peer review process,said Jesse Zeman, spokesman for the B.C. Wildlife Federation.

    The federal government has resisted listing the steelhead under the Species at Risk Act for years, he said. A listing would likely curtail some commercial salmon fishing.

    B.C.s environment ministry has been jousting with DFO for a year over changes made to a scientific assessment that could have led to stronger protections for steelhead.

    How it happened remains a mystery.

    When the BCWF filed a Freedom of Information request to learn how the scientific assessment was altered and by whom, the federal government said it would take 822 years to retrieve the documents. A second, less ambitious request was submitted, which the government now says will take 510 days beyond the statutory limit of 30 days typically allowed for processing such a request.

    Land-clearing is leading to habitat destruction in the heart of the lower Fraser River for about 30 other species of fish, Angelo noted in the councils year-end statement.

    Clear-cutting for agriculture and development are damaging rearing areas for chinook and other species between Mission and Hope and on mid-river lands such as Herrling, Carey and Strawberry islands.

    The council is pushing to have the islands declared an Ecologically Significant Area under a new feature of the federal Fisheries Act.

    Seven southern B.C. chinook stocks are considered endangered, four threatened, one is of special concern and one is not at risk, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

    The Big Bar landslide dramatically curtailed access to the upper reaches of the Fraser watershed for struggling runs of chinook and sockeye salmon this year.

    The slide created a five-metre waterfall that forced DFO to trap and transport potential spawners below the debris and release them into the river above the slide.

    There was a valiant and heroic effort move fish past the slide, said Angelo. The unfortunate reality is that most fish didnt make it through and those that did were already exhausted.

    There is a window of about three months before spring freshet during which water levels will be low enough to re-establish a passable corridor for next years spawners, he said.

    Rock removal work at the slide site is ongoing, while DFO consults with experts on heavy construction, explosives and the Department of National Defence on ways to remove the remaining rock debris.

    These things taken together make the Fraser a critically endangered river, the most critically endangered in B.C. and probably all of Canada, Angelo said.

    Mark Angelo, chairman of the Outdoor Recreation Council, looks out over the Fraser River from near the foot of Kerr Street in Vancouver on Monday.Arlen Redekop / PNG

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    Fraser River the most critically endangered river in B.C: Outdoor council - Vancouver Sun

    Solar? Geothermal? Garbage? 6 climate-friendly ways to heat and cool buildings – Yahoo News Canada - December 4, 2019 by admin

    Using local energy sources such as lake water, wood waste or even garbage to heat and cool buildings is one way for communities to cut their greenhouse gas emissions the goal of this week's UN climate summit.

    In district energy systems, instead of having an individual heating and cooling system for each building, multiple buildings are hooked up to a central system similar to how buildings are connected to the municipal water service instead of each one relying on individual wells. Heat is distributed to buildings via pipes that typically carry hot or chilled water.

    It's an idea endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP,which calls district energy a "key measure for cities/countries that aim to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy or carbon neutral targets."

    Once the distribution is set up, almost any energy source can be plugged in, depending on what's available locally and what will benefit the community.

    Here's a look at what six communities across Canada have done.

    Location: Charlottetown, P.E.I.

    This system, run by Enwave Energy Corp, supplies 125 buildings, including Queen Elizabeth Hospital, with heat and also generates 1200 kW of electricity from burning "black bin" waste (garbage) and wood waste. The wood waste used to come from a sawmill, but that shut down so now the wood is from forestry and land clearing.

    The local landfill doesn't have systems to collect methane, a powerful greenhouse gas produced by decomposing organic waste. So by sending garbage to be burned in this system, it both prevents the methane from going into the atmosphere (burning generates carbon dioxide, a less potent greenhouse gas, instead) and displaces natural gas that would otherwise be burned to generate electricity, says Carlyle Coutinho, president and chief operating officer for the Canadian region for Enwave Energy Corp.

    Because P.E.I. relies heavily on power imported from New Brunswick, the availability of a local source of power and heat also makes the island more resilient in case of natural disasters.

    The company plans toexpand to take more of the province's waste and generate more electricity.

    Location: Toronto

    Source: Deep lake water cooling

    Year: 2004

    Toronto sits on the edge of Lake Ontario, allowing this system, also run by Enwave Energy,to draw cold water from its depths to cool 85buildings in downtown Toronto, including hospitals, educational campuses, government buildings, commercial and residential buildings. In January 2019, the federal government announced an expansion to an additional two million square metres of floor space the equivalent of 40 to 50 buildings.

    Coutinho says the system saves electricity that would have been used for air conditioning and water that would have evaporated from cooling towers.

    He admits working in a built-up environment like Toronto, where distribution pipes need to be installed deeply in order to avoid other underground infrastructure and many buildings need to be retrofitted, is more difficult than installing in a new building. But the high density makes it easier to reach many customers.

    Drake Landing Solar Community

    Location: Okotoks, Alta.

    Source: Solar thermal energy/borehole thermal energy storage

    Year: 2007

    Description: This was a federal pilot project designed to see whether a solar thermal heating system, which has been testing in milder climates in Europe, would work in Canada, which gets most of its sun during the summer, but requires a lot of heat during the long, dark winter months.

    The system provides more than 90 per cent of space heating needs for 52 homes by collecting solar energy with solar-thermal panels on garage roofs and storing it underground during the summer. The heat is then distributed to homes during the winter.

    Lucio Mesquita, senior engineer of solar thermal renewable heat and power group at Natural Resources Canada's CanmetENERGY group, says there was even one year when the system provided 100 per cent of the heat.

    Because it requires very little electricity to run the pumps, it's also very resilient in case of extreme weather or natural disasters, he said.

    All the infrastructure is underground and has a park on top of it.

    Mequita says the pilot project shows this technology could work in any community in Canada, even in northern communities.

    However, it's currently not cost competitive with traditional heating because of the low price of natural gas.

    "The technology works. It can be competitive," he said. "But you need a scenario that helps with that."

    le-des-chnes District Energy

    Location: Rural Municipality of Ritchot, Man.

    Technology:Geothermal

    Year: 2011

    Description: While the density of big cities is often required to make district energy projects cost effective, it can be installed in smaller communities, as this rural community of 5,000 shows. A district geothermal system connects an arena, a fire hall, a community centre with a daycare and banquet hall that can hold 500 people, and an ambulance garage.

    It warms the buildings using heat from deep in the ground, which stays around 18 C even in winter.

    The arena alone used to consume $40,000 a year in electricity to make ice. By using the geothermal system, it saves $15,000 a year and the quality of the ice is higher (less "chippy" during the shoulder season), allowing for a longer season, says Roger Perron, who was the economic development officer of Richot at the time the system was installed.

    Perron, who is still president of the community centre, says the geothermal system also displaced two gas furnaces.

    The muncipality needed a new community centre to replace its previous 70-year-old building anyway and managed to fund the initiative largely with government grants.

    Perron says the key is convincing local governments to take on a project like this.

    "I think it's doable in all communities."

    Teslin Biomass Project

    Location: Teslin, Yukon

    Technology: Biomass

    Year: 2018

    Description: This is a project of the Teslin Tlingit Council, a self-governing First Nation surrounded by boreal forest near the B.C.-Yukon border. It consists of several biomass boilers that burn low-grade waste wood products, such as sawdust, chips and leftover wood from cut trees, but also whole trees felled as a result of construction work.

    It currently heats 18 buildings, including a school, an administration building, a cultural centre and some multi-residential buildings. Eight more will be added soon, says project manager Blair Hogan, president and CEO of Gunta Business Consulting.

    The district energy system makes it possible to use biomass a locally produced renewable fuel that couldn't be used by individual households, Hogan says.

    While it's not necessarily cheaper than the diesel boilers that heated buildings in the community before, that diesel was imported. The biomass system generates local jobs and keeps the money in the community.

    Hogan says it's also an opportunity to make the community more resilientby removing wood that could put the community at risk in case of wildfires. The council plans to build a fire break by clearing more forest.

    "This is kind of a proactive measure as well to protect our community."

    False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility

    Location: Vancouver

    Source: Waste heat capture from sewage

    Year: 2010

    Description:

    The system provides space heating and hot water to 36 buildings, or 5.4 million square feet of space, including the Science World Museum, Emily Carr University of Art and Design and at least 30 condominium buildings.

    The goal is to provide 70 per cent of the energy from waste heat captured from sewage, with the rest being made up by renewable natural gas.

    The sewage is warm because of all the hot water that goes down the drain from showers, dishwashing and laundry, says Alex Charpentier, acting manager of the False Creek Neighbourhood Energy Utility, owned by the City of Vancouver, which runs the system.

    The heat is normally wasted, but a heat exchanger next to the sewage pumping station allows the utility to extract the heat and provide it to local buildings.

    While a system like this is normally hard to install in a city that's already built, False Creek was a brownfield site redeveloped for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

    The utility has since proposed a huge expansion that could quadruple its generation capacity and allow it to connect with more offices and a hospital.

    View post:
    Solar? Geothermal? Garbage? 6 climate-friendly ways to heat and cool buildings - Yahoo News Canada

    Satellites reveal scale of recent blazes but still less damaging than 2015 fires – Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research - December 4, 2019 by admin

    Fires were back in force in 2019. In June and July, they blazed in the Arctic Circle, mostly in Alaska and Siberia. Then they ravaged tropical landscapes, burning vast tracts of land in the Brazilian Amazon and in Indonesia. Elsewhere, firefighters in Sweden, California and Australia have been kept busy trying to douse damaging infernos.

    Indonesia also hit international news headlines due to persistent large-scale fires. Unusually dry weather across the archipelago this year is not fully understood, but climate scientists say that the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD+), not the more familiar El Nio weather system, is likely responsible, contributing to widespread burning. IOD+ is a phenomenon that occurs when warm Pacific sea surface waters shift toward the Horn of Africa, leaving the Indonesian ocean colder than usual. Cold sea surface waters generate high pressure fronts, preventing the convection of water vapor into the atmosphere, which in turn prevents cloud formation and rainfall.

    The dry season in Indonesia is now ending and the rains are beginning, raising hopes that the last fires will soon be drenched and extinguished. While there has been much speculation in the news that the heavy fire season has taken a toll on the countrys remaining rainforests, until now, there was no hard evidence to support that notion. We set out to determine how much land has burned and what type of land cover has been burning. This knowledge is crucial to understanding impacts and identifying solutions.

    To provide a rapid but detailed assessment of burned areas, we analyzed time-series imagery taken by the Sentinel-2 satellites between 1 January and 31 October 2019. We performed the analysis in Google Earth Engine over seven Indonesian provinces, where fires are a recurring problem: Central Kalimantan, Jambi, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Jambi and South Sumatra and Papua.

    Our satellite assessment estimated that 1.64 million hectares burned between 1 January and 31 October in seven Indonesian provinces, including 670,000 ha (41 percent) in peatlands. This finding revealed that the scale of the 2019 fires is large, commensurate with the catastrophic 2015 fires when 2.1 million hectares burned in the same provinces.

    That year, a powerful El-Nio pushed warm Pacific waters along the Equator away from the western Pacific towards the coast of Peru, and Indonesia was struck by drought-induced widespread fires. These fires were catastrophic. They burned an estimated 2.6 million hectares across Indonesia, and emitted 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent representing half of the countrys total emissions in that year. Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan (pop. 250,000), suffered the greatest air quality impact, and daily average PM10 concentrations often reached 1,000 to 3,000 g m-3. This was among the worst sustained air quality measurements ever recorded worldwide. The cities of Jambi, Palembang and Pekanbaru were also affected by extreme air pollution levels from peatland fires. These cities were subjected to similar levels of fire-induced toxic smoke this year too, leading to higher than usual health risks.

    Visualize 2019 burned areas in Central, South and West Kalimantan provinces with Borneo Atlas. Same can be done for Papua Province with Papua Atlas

    A breakdown of the area of land burned in 2019 by province and by district is illustrated in the figure and table below. The map is available interactively for four out of seven provinces on the Borneo and Papua Atlas an independent geo-platform that improves transparency and accountability of plantation companies.

    Table 1. Top 20 districts with most burning

    Based on visual inspection of high-resolution image samples (2,920 samples) taken before fire, we found that 76 percent of burning occurred on idle lands (lahan terlantar in Indonesia). Those lands were forest a few years ago, but cycles of repeated burns have converted them to unproductive degraded scrublands.

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    Satellites reveal scale of recent blazes but still less damaging than 2015 fires - Forests News, Center for International Forestry Research

    Road will be shut down as city works to address landslide issue – WLKY Louisville - December 4, 2019 by admin

    Nearly six months after earth and debris began sliding onto St. Anthony Church Road in south Louisville, Louisville Metro is spending nearly $100,000 to figure out how to fix it. The landslide started in late April and continued into early June, eventually forcing the city to make the road one lane between St. Anthony Woods Court and Joe Don Court. "It's a major inconvenience, but second, it's a public safety issue, just being at one lane," said Metro Councilman David Yates who represents that area. Yates said the road, often referred to as "Hot Rod Haven," is used heavily by people who live and work in the area. "Now people are trying to find other alternative routes now with all the issues," he said. When the slide first began, Metro Public Works was regularly clearing off debris, according to assistant director Jeffrey Brown."There was mud and dirt and debris in the road," Brown said. The department soon realized the earth was not holding up and started looking for a permanent solution. The city hired a geotechnical company to assess the earth, but their work was delayed for nearly three months because the property owner would not allow workers on his land."It's frustrating when I know we have a public safety issue, and we're being slow-walked on the way to address it," Yates said. The company was eventually allowed access and is now drilling 20 holes into the ground to test soil conditions."As soon as they finish their surveys, we'll analyze the data and start designing a solution," Brown said. According to Brown, Metro Public Works is spending close to $92,984 to figure out a solution. That figure does not include the cost of making whatever repairs or modifications the city decides to do. Yates said he knows the issue has been costly and that any work to correct is will come with a hefty price tag, but he believes it's worth it. "The last thing I want to do is Public Works to go in and spend enormous amounts of money, and it not address the underlying issue," Yates said. St. Anthony Church Road will be closed on Dec. 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Nearly six months after earth and debris began sliding onto St. Anthony Church Road in south Louisville, Louisville Metro is spending nearly $100,000 to figure out how to fix it.

    The landslide started in late April and continued into early June, eventually forcing the city to make the road one lane between St. Anthony Woods Court and Joe Don Court.

    "It's a major inconvenience, but second, it's a public safety issue, just being at one lane," said Metro Councilman David Yates who represents that area.

    Yates said the road, often referred to as "Hot Rod Haven," is used heavily by people who live and work in the area.

    "Now people are trying to find other alternative routes now with all the issues," he said.

    When the slide first began, Metro Public Works was regularly clearing off debris, according to assistant director Jeffrey Brown.

    "There was mud and dirt and debris in the road," Brown said.

    The department soon realized the earth was not holding up and started looking for a permanent solution. The city hired a geotechnical company to assess the earth, but their work was delayed for nearly three months because the property owner would not allow workers on his land.

    "It's frustrating when I know we have a public safety issue, and we're being slow-walked on the way to address it," Yates said.

    The company was eventually allowed access and is now drilling 20 holes into the ground to test soil conditions.

    "As soon as they finish their surveys, we'll analyze the data and start designing a solution," Brown said.

    According to Brown, Metro Public Works is spending close to $92,984 to figure out a solution. That figure does not include the cost of making whatever repairs or modifications the city decides to do.

    Yates said he knows the issue has been costly and that any work to correct is will come with a hefty price tag, but he believes it's worth it.

    "The last thing I want to do is Public Works to go in and spend enormous amounts of money, and it not address the underlying issue," Yates said.

    St. Anthony Church Road will be closed on Dec. 5 and 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Read more:
    Road will be shut down as city works to address landslide issue - WLKY Louisville

    Grattan on Friday: Own goals and defeat of union legislation give Scott Morrison a horror week – The Conversation AU - December 4, 2019 by admin

    The strange affair of Angus Taylor and the allegedly doctored document of dubious provenance he used to try to discredit Sydneys lord mayor Clover Moore and her council over climate change is replete with lessons for political players.

    One: avoid gratuitous point scoring, but if you must do it, make sure your facts are correct.

    Two: when you are caught out in a mistake, make a clean breast of things, and as quickly as possible dont dally with your apology.

    Three: if you are the prime minister, and your embattled minister is facing a police investigation, do nothing that might suggest, even if wrongly, that you are intervening in the course of justice.

    Four: when, as PM, you are defending your man or woman in parliament, make sure the material you use has been triple checked.

    Failure to observe these obvious and sensible practices has created a distracting issue for the government and then damagingly escalated it. In the process, Taylor has been discredited, and Scott Morrison has been embroiled and embarrassed or embarrassed himself. Every twist and turn has been entirely self-created by the government. The whole thing was avoidable.

    Taylors self-image and the political reality of his career have sharply diverged since he was elected to parliament in 2013, with the hope, indeed the expectation in his own mind, of eventually becoming prime minister.

    Read more: Scott Morrison under fire for calling NSW police commissioner over Angus Taylor investigation

    It did not seem at the time an unreasonable aspiration. A Rhodes scholar, a McKinsey man who became a director at Port Jackson Partners, Taylor presented well and looked the part.

    He identified with the conservative wing of the Liberals (later supporting Peter Duttons leadership bid and criticising Malcolm Turnbull), although certain people who knew him well and worked with him in his previous career are surprised at some of the positions he takes today including on issues related to climate change.

    Belying his early promise, Taylor has been embroiled in controversies (including over his interest in a family company investigated about land clearing), and since becoming energy minister under Morrison he has performed poorly in whats admittedly a very challenging portfolio.

    In general, Taylor has fallen victim to a combination of hubris and stubbornness.

    His response to the City of Sydneys declaration of a climate emergency was to point to what he claimed were the councillors huge travel costs - and thus large carbon footprint - with the imputation of hypocrisy. His letter to Moore was given to the Daily Telegraph just to hype his attack.

    But the figures he used were wrong so wrong it is amazing Taylor, with a background dealing with numbers, did not immediately spot a problem.

    When the error was inevitably revealed, Taylor insisted the document providing the basis for his claim was drawn directly from the City of Sydney website. He said his office on September 9 accessed a report on that site. Taylor sticks by this story publicly, and reportedly says the same thing privately to Morrison.

    But the council report on the site contained the correct figures, and the evidence so far notably the City of Sydney metadata - indicates that report was not altered.

    Read more: Scott Morrison stands by energy minister Angus Taylor, who faces police probe

    So where did Taylors allegedly doctored and certainly inaccurate document come from?

    The most likely explanation appears to be the Taylor office somehow accessed a draft, and then a staffer misread that draft, inflating the very modest travel costs into the millions of dollars that Taylor claimed.

    But why, if something like that is what happened, Taylor did not fess up with the full story immediately is inexplicable.

    This weeks announcement of a NSW Police investigation took the affair to a new level, raising the question of whether Taylor should be stood aside while that proceeds. This can be argued both ways: in my view theres a reasonable case for not standing him aside. There are precedents, and anyway the probe will be finished quickly.

    What was not reasonable was for Morrison to ring NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller to ask about the investigation. Not least because he and Fuller are well acquainted personally they previously lived near each other.

    (As a side point, Fuller was caught out in relation to this neighbourliness. A while ago he told 2GB Morrison used to take in his, Fullers, rubbish bin. This week, playing down his closeness to Morrison, Fuller said that never happened.)

    Apart from the proprieties, a leader with any appreciation of process should know that by directly contacting the commissioner he was opening himself to attack.

    To do so was a misjudgement. Then Morrison added carelessness when, raising Labor examples of people not standing aside while under police investigation, he attributed the words of radio presenter Ben Fordham to a Victorian detective.

    This was another instance of somebody being sloppy. While many journalists will identify with mixing up a quote there but for the grace of god, etc if youre a prime minister doing it in the middle of a stoush, the political fallout is nasty.

    Read more: 'Louts, thugs, bullies': the myth that's driving Morrison's anti-union push

    With one week of the parliamentary year remaining, Labor has decided to deny Taylor a pair next Wednesday and Thursday for him to go to the International Energy Agency conference in Paris. It could be another rough few days for the minister, unless he gets a very quick all-clear from the NSW police.

    By late Thursday the government was hoping its very difficult week would finish with an important win the passage of its Ensuring Integrity legislation to crack down on recalcitrant unions and union officials. But there things went horribly wrong.

    Pauline Hanson, despite securing concessions, voted with Labor and the legislation was lost on a tie.

    The government was visibly shocked, with attorney-general Christian Porter saying it would seek to reintroduce the legislation at an appropriate time - whenever that might be.

    Hanson said she was firing a warning shot across the bows of both union bosses and the government the former should get their act together and the latter should clean up white collar crime.

    What I pick up from the public is a crystal-clear view that this government, and past governments, have one rule for white-collar crime and a much harsher rule for blue-collar crime, she had said earlier. The shocking revelations about Westpac came at a very bad time for a government pressing its case for action on unions.

    As it looks to the final sitting week, the government is desperately trying to wrangle Jacqui Lambie, whos playing hardball, into voting for the repeal of medevac.

    Another rebuff on what it regards as critical legislation would be deeply humiliating.

    See the original post:
    Grattan on Friday: Own goals and defeat of union legislation give Scott Morrison a horror week - The Conversation AU

    MLB rumors: Anthony Rendon could be first big domino to fall; Zack Wheeler has offer exceeding $100 million – CBS Sports - December 4, 2019 by admin

    With the Thanksgiving holiday in the rear-view mirror, teams and players are now free to get back to business ahead of next week's winter meetings. As such, don't be surprised if a few deals get done ahead of time so teams know where they stand entering the process.

    Let's run down the latest from Tuesday's MLB rumor mill.

    The Yankees have been expected to pursue Gerrit Cole all year long, but it looks like they intend to hedge their bets in case Cole ends up elsewhere. As such, the Yankees intend to meet with Cole and with Stephen Strasburg over the coming days, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Strasburg is a relative new addition to the free-agent market, having opted out of his deal shortly after the postseason ended.

    The Yankees have an obvious desire to add an impact-level starter to their rotation, and both Cole and Strasburg would fit the bill. It is worth noting that the Yankees are not viewed as the favorite for either pitcher at this point, as reported by the New York Post. Those around the game believe the Angels will land Cole, while the Nationals are still expected to retain Strasburg.

    Still, these things are fluid until a deal gets done, and the Yankees are at least doing their due diligence.

    Third baseman Anthony Rendon could be the first major free agent to sign this winter, according to what ESPN's Buster Olney has heard from executives. Rendon is said to have already met with the Dodgers and Rangers, among others.

    The Rangers were expected to show interest in Rendon, given their need for a third baseman and the opening of a new ballpark next spring. the Dodgers, however, are a slight surprise given Justin Turner is already in tow.

    Obviously a meeting doesn't mean a deal is going to happen -- it does signify some interest, however.

    Entering the offseason, we ranked Zack Wheeler as the seventh-best free agent available this winter, writing "This may seem like an overrank given Wheeler has a career 100 ERA+ and has never thrown 200 innings in a season. But teams believe there's more chicken left on the bone, and it shouldn't surprise anyone if his contract reflects as much."

    That seems close to coming to fruition now, as he has an offer worth nine figures, according to Ken Rosenthal. Predictably, there's a fair chance Wheeler signs within the coming week, per Jon Heyman. The White Sox and Rangers are just two of the teams linked to Wheeler -- with Wheeler being identified as the White Sox's top target -- so far this winter. It appears we'll find out soon enough who wins the bidding.

    The Giants have interest in free agent outfielder NicholasCastellanos, reports MLB.com's Jon Morosi. San Francisco recently named Scott Harris their general manager. Harris was an assistant general manager with the Cubs this past season, when they acquired Castellanos at the trade deadline.

    Even with Mike Yastrzemski entrenched in the outfield, the Giants still have two open outfield spots after non-tendering Kevin Pillar earlier this week. Castellanos can not play center field, so he wouldn't replace Pillar, but he could fill the other corner spot. The Giants are short and outfielders and power in general. Castellanos would adress both needs.

    The White Sox hope to add two veteran starting pitchers this offseason, reports ESPN's Buster Olney. Chicago kicked off what is expected to by a busy offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal to a four-year contract last month. They also signed Jose Abreu to a three-year extension after he accepted the qualifying offer.

    At the moment only Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are locks for Chicago's rotation. Top prospect Michael Kopech is due back from Tommy John surgery early next year, but the team won't push him aggressively. Dylan Cease and Carson Fulmer are depth options. Even if they don't land a big fish like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, the free-agent class offers plenty of quality second tier starters.

    The Dodgers aren't just interested in Rendon, but also Stephen Strasburg and new free agent Kevin Gausman, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

    Strasburg is, of course, one of the top free-agent starters available. Gausman, meanwhile, has been a decent starter in the past. He spent the last part of this season in the Reds bullpen, where he reintroduced his slider. He could slot in as a back-end starter again.

    Either way, it's clear the Dodgers want to upgrade their roster as they seek their first world title under Andrew Friedman's watch.

    On Monday, the Phillies non-tendered infielders Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez. Consider it a clearing of the brush more so than an indication that the Phillies are content with their infield situation.

    To wit, the Phillies have maintained contact with third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Didi Gregorius, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi.

    Donaldson figures to be the higher-priced of the two, but Gregorius is perhaps more intriguing -- at least in the sense that the Phillies already have a shortstop, in Jean Segura. Segura had a down season last year, but won't turn 30 until March and has a track record of being an above-average talent. As such, a Gregorius signing would likely result in either a trade or a positional shuffling.

    The Athletics have signed left-handed reliever Jake Diekman to a two-year deal with a club option, per the team. Diekman, 33 in January, appeared in 28 games for the A's last season. In those appearances, he fanned a batter per inning, but also walked more than seven batters per nine. That combination of bat- and zone-missing ability has been evident in his game throughout his career.

    Still, the A's like Diekman enough to guarantee him more than $7 million over the course of his deal. That's a fairly trifling amount so far as big-league contracts go, but it's notable given the A's tendency to spend as little as possible.

    Continue reading here:
    MLB rumors: Anthony Rendon could be first big domino to fall; Zack Wheeler has offer exceeding $100 million - CBS Sports

    Angus Taylor and defeat of union legislation give Scott Morrison a horror week – ABC News - December 4, 2019 by admin

    Updated November 29, 2019 18:22:40

    The strange affair of Angus Taylor and the allegedly doctored document of dubious provenance he used to try to discredit Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore and her council over climate change is replete with lessons for political players.

    One: Avoid gratuitous point scoring, but if you must do it, make sure your facts are correct.

    Two: When you are caught out in a mistake, make a clean breast of things, and as quickly as possible. Don't dally with your apology.

    Three: If you are the Prime Minister, and your embattled minister is facing a police investigation, do nothing that might suggest, even if wrongly, that you are intervening in the course of justice.

    Four: When, as PM, you are defending your man or woman in Parliament, make sure the material you use has been triple checked.

    Failure to observe these obvious and sensible practices has created a distracting issue for the Government and then damagingly escalated it.

    In the process, Taylor has been discredited, and Scott Morrison has been embroiled and embarrassed, or embarrassed himself.

    Every twist and turn has been entirely self-created by the Government. The whole thing was avoidable.

    Taylor's self-image and the political reality of his career have sharply diverged since he was elected to Parliament in 2013, with the hope, indeed the expectation in his own mind, of eventually becoming prime minister.

    It did not seem at the time an unreasonable aspiration.

    A Rhodes scholar, a McKinsey man who became a director at Port Jackson Partners, Taylor presented well and looked the part.

    He identified with the conservative wing of the Liberals (later supporting Peter Dutton's leadership bid and criticising Malcolm Turnbull), although certain people who knew him well and worked with him in his previous career are surprised at some of the positions he takes today, including on issues related to climate change.

    Belying his early promise, Taylor has been embroiled in controversies (including over his interest in a family company investigated about land clearing), and since becoming Energy Minister under Morrison he has performed poorly in what is admittedly a very challenging portfolio.

    In general, Taylor has fallen victim to a combination of hubris and stubbornness.

    His response to the City of Sydney's declaration of a climate emergency was to point to what he claimed were the councillors' huge travel costs, and thus large carbon footprint, with the imputation of hypocrisy.

    His letter to Moore was given to the Daily Telegraph just to hype his attack.

    But the figures he used were wrong, so wrong it is amazing Taylor, with a background dealing with numbers, did not immediately spot a problem.

    When the error was inevitably revealed, Taylor insisted the document providing the basis for his claim "was drawn directly from the City of Sydney website".

    He said his office on September 9 accessed a report on that site. Taylor sticks by this story publicly, and reportedly says the same thing privately to Morrison.

    But the council report on the site contained the correct figures, and the evidence so far, notably the City of Sydney metadata, indicates that report was not altered.

    So where did Taylor's allegedly doctored and certainly inaccurate document come from?

    The most likely explanation appears to be the Taylor office somehow accessed a draft, and then a staffer misread that draft, inflating the very modest travel costs into the millions of dollars that Taylor claimed.

    But why, if something like that is what happened, Taylor did not 'fess up with the full story immediately is inexplicable.

    This week's announcement of a NSW Police investigation took the affair to a new level, raising the question of whether Taylor should stand aside while that proceeds.

    This can be argued both ways: in my view there's a reasonable case for not standing him aside. There are precedents, and anyway the probe will be finished quickly.

    What was not reasonable was for Morrison to ring NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller to ask about the investigation.

    Not least because he and Fuller are well acquainted personally they previously lived near each other.

    (As a side point, Fuller was caught out in relation to this neighbourliness. A while ago he told 2GB Morrison used to take in his rubbish bin for him. This week, playing down his closeness to Morrison, Fuller said that never happened.)

    Apart from the proprieties, a leader with any appreciation of process should know, by directly contacting the commissioner, he was opening himself to attack.

    To do so was a misjudgement. Then Morrison added carelessness when, raising Labor examples of people not standing aside while under police investigation, he attributed the words of radio presenter Ben Fordham to a Victorian detective.

    This was another instance of somebody being sloppy.

    While many journalists will identify with mixing up a quote, there but for the grace of god etc, if you're a prime minister doing it in the middle of a stoush, the political fallout is nasty.

    With one week of the parliamentary year remaining, Labor has decided to deny Taylor a pair next Wednesday and Thursday for him to go to the International Energy Agency conference in Paris.

    It could be another rough few days for the minister, unless he gets a very quick all-clear from NSW Police.

    By late Thursday, the Government was hoping its very difficult week would finish with an important win, the passage of its Ensuring Integrity legislation to crack down on recalcitrant unions and union officials. But there things went horribly wrong.

    Pauline Hanson, despite securing concessions, voted with Labor and the legislation was lost on a tie.

    The Government was visibly shocked, with Attorney-General Christian Porter saying it would seek to reintroduce the legislation "at an appropriate time", whenever that might be.

    Hanson said she was firing a warning shot across the bows of both union bosses and the Government, saying the former should get their act together and the latter should clean up white-collar crime.

    "What I pick up from the public is a crystal-clear view that this Government, and past governments, have one rule for white-collar crime and a much harsher rule for blue-collar crime," she had said earlier.

    The shocking revelations about Westpac came at a very bad time for a Government pressing its case for action on unions.

    As it looks to the final sitting week, the Government is desperately trying to wrangle Jacqui Lambie, who's playing hardball, into voting for the repeal of medevac.

    Another rebuff on what it regards as critical legislation would be deeply humiliating.

    Michelle Grattan is a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra and chief political correspondent at The Conversation, where this article first appeared.

    Topics:government-and-politics,politics-and-government,federal-government,federal-parliament,unions,australia

    First posted November 29, 2019 09:42:40

    Read the original post:
    Angus Taylor and defeat of union legislation give Scott Morrison a horror week - ABC News

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