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Coronavirus risks in public bathrooms: What goes into the toilet doesn’t always stay there

<p>Most public restrooms are grungy in the best of times. Now, we have the coronavirus risk to contend with, too. There are lots of risks – dirty sinks and door handles, airborne particles and other people in small, enclosed spaces who may or may not be breathing out the coronavirus.</p> <p>So, how do you stay safe when you’re away from home and you’ve really got to go?</p> <p>As a medical doctor and epidemiologist, I study infectious diseases involving the gastrointestinal tract. Here are four things to pay attention to when it comes to any public restroom.</p> <p><strong>What goes into the toilet doesn’t always stay there</strong></p> <p>Have you ever thought about what happens when you flush a toilet?</p> <p>Scientists who worry about disease transmission in hospitals have, and their findings are worth remembering when you’re in a public restroom.</p> <p>All that bubbling, swirling and splashing <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/02786826.2013.814911">can aerosolize fecal waste</a>, sending tiny particles airborne. A <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s13756-018-0301-9">study on hospital bathrooms</a> found that the amount of those particles spiked after a toilet was flushed, and the concentration in the air remained high 30 minutes later. It didn’t matter if the test was done right next to the toilet or 3 feet away. Second and third flushes continued to spread particles. Another study, published June 16, simulated toilet plumes from flushing and also found that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0013318">a large number of particles rose above the toilet seat</a> and lingered in the air. The scientists’ advice: close the lid before flushing.</p> <p>Researchers have found that the new coronavirus, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(20)30083-2">SARS-CoV-2, can be shed in feces for up to a month</a> after the illness. That’s longer than in respiratory samples, though how much of that time the virus could be causing infections and whether the virus has infected humans through fecal waste <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html">isn’t yet known</a>.</p> <p><strong>Surfaces can harbor the virus, so wash up</strong></p> <p>The aerosols generated when <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2006874117">someone infected with coronavirus coughs or even talks</a> can be inhaled, of course, but they also settle out on surrounding surfaces, such as bathroom counter tops.</p> <p>To stay safe, be extra careful and touch as little as possible in public restrooms, including door handles. Whatever you do, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/well/live/coronavirus-spread-transmission-face-touching-hands.html">don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth</a> after touching these surfaces – your mucous membranes are the coronavirus’s entryway into your body.</p> <p>When you’re done, <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-hand-washing-really-is-as-important-as-doctors-say-132840">thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water</a>, and maybe <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/jam.13014">skip the hot-air hand dryer</a>, which can also create aerosols and blow them toward you.</p> <p>Carrying face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes with you can help you be prepared, particularly if the facilities lack soap or running water.</p> <p><strong>Enclosed spaces are a problem</strong></p> <p>The air in an enclosed space like a public restroom can have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30245-9">coronavirus particles in it for several hours</a> after someone infectious with COVID-19 was there.</p> <p>Scientists still don’t know how <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-we-do-and-do-not-know-about-covid-19s-infectious-dose-and-viral-load-135991">much of the virus you have to take in</a> to become infected, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Limiting the amount of time spent in any enclosed indoor space – restrooms and <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-lower-your-coronavirus-risk-while-eating-out-restaurant-advice-from-an-infectious-disease-expert-138925">restaurants</a> included – can reduce the potential for getting sick from the coronavirus.</p> <p><strong>Wear a mask, and walk out if others aren’t</strong></p> <p>One of the more insidious characteristics of the new coronavirus is that someone infected with the virus can be spreading it <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/25774/chapter/1#3">two to three days before they show any symptoms</a>. Some people don’t show symptoms at all, but they can still be infectious for days.</p> <p>Based on surveillance during the Princess cruise ship outbreak in Yokohama, Japan, <a href="http://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.10.2000180">15 to 20% of the people tested positive</a> for the coronavirus had no symptoms. <a href="http://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.10182">Data from Wuhan, China</a>, put the number of asymptomatic cases at closer to 40%.</p> <p>Keeping <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiaa189">at least 6 feet away from others</a> and wearing a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0843-2">mask can help you avoid spreading the coronavirus</a> if you’re asymptomatic and don’t realize it. They can also help protect you, though social distancing in small public restrooms isn’t always possible.</p> <p>If someone else is in the restroom without a mask on, the best advice is to walk out. It isn’t worth the risk.</p> <p><em>Written by William Petri. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-goes-into-the-toilet-doesnt-always-stay-there-and-other-coronavirus-risks-in-public-bathrooms-139637">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Antarctica without windchill and the Louvre without queues: How to travel the world from home

<p>SpaceX’s recent <a href="https://theconversation.com/spacexs-historic-launch-gives-australias-booming-space-industry-more-room-to-fly-139760">Falcon 9 rocket launch</a> proves humanity has come leaps and bounds in its effort to reach other worlds. But now there’s a quicker, safer and environmentally friendlier way to travel to the centre of the galaxy – and you can do it too.</p> <p><a href="https://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2020/gcenter/">NASA</a> has co-developed a free virtual reality (VR) adventure providing 500 years of travel around the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. The experience is available to download from two major VR stores, <a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/1240350/Galactic_Center_VR/">Steam</a> and <a href="https://www.viveport.com/21f8b24c-783b-4af2-8e81-a63a14553721">Viewport</a>, in a non-collapsed star system near you.</p> <p>And this kind of spacefaring may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of virtual travel and tourism.</p> <p><strong>The virtual travel bug</strong></p> <p>Simply speaking, VR refers to technology that immerses users in a computer-generated world that removes them from reality. Augmented Reality (AR), however, aims to superimpose virtual imagery over a user’s view of the real world. Pokémon Go is a popular AR game.</p> <p>VR-based tourism has a longer history than you might think. In the 1850s, it involved staring at <a href="https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/stereo/background.html">stereographs</a> with a <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/sterographs-original-virtual-reality-180964771/">stereoscope</a>. With this invention, viewers looked at slightly different images through each eye, which were then assembled by the brain to make a new image providing the illusion of spatial depth (in other words, a 3D effect).</p> <p>A century later, 1950s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinerama">Cinerama</a> widescreen viewing inspired cinematic travel though its large, curved screens and multiple cameras.</p> <p>The 1960s <a href="https://www.engadget.com/2014-02-16-morton-heiligs-sensorama-simulator.html">Sensorama</a> foretold a shiny future of multimodal immersive cinematic experiences, playing 3D films with sound, scents and wind to immerse users. In <a href="https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html">VR circles</a>, Ivan Sutherland became famous for inventing the head-mounted display, as well as augmented reality (AR).</p> <p>Travel restrictions under COVID-19 <a href="https://www.ft.com/virtualtravel">present an opportunity</a> for virtual reality travel to finally take off.</p> <p>In an era of lockdowns and social distancing, we could use VR to travel to remote, distant or even no longer existing places. Remote tourism is here (the <a href="https://www.remote-tourism.com/">Faroe Islands</a> offers a great example), and interest in VR tourism is <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/solrogers/2020/03/18/virtual-reality-and-tourism-whats-already-happening-is-it-the-future/#5b39a26228a6">blossoming</a>.</p> <p><strong>VR comes in many forms</strong></p> <p>The word “virtual” can refer to an immersive 3D experience, but also 360° panorama photographs and movies (a <a href="https://wiki.panotools.org/Panorama_formats">cylinder, sphere or cube of photographs</a>).</p> <p>What is deemed “virtual” varies greatly across different devices and platforms. Let’s look at some of the ways this term is applied.</p> <p><strong>Desktop virtual environments</strong>: these are computer-based 3D environments on a flat screen, without the spatial immersion of VR platforms.</p> <p><strong>Cinematic VR</strong>: these are phone-based panoramic environments. Many desktop experiences of 360° movies or images can be conveyed in low-cost <a href="https://arvr.google.com/cardboard/">stereoscopic VR through smartphones</a>. Google Street view can be viewed in <a href="https://www.blog.google/products/google-vr/get-closer-look-street-view-google-earth-vr/">Google VR</a> on Android and <a href="https://3g.co.uk/guides/what-smartphones-work-with-virtual-reality">some Apple</a> smartphones, but it’s not real VR.</p> <p><strong>Head-mounted displays</strong>: HMDs such as <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-Google-Cardboard/">Google Cardboard</a> and <a href="https://arvr.google.com/daydream/smartphonevr/">Google Daydream</a> are what many people think of when they hear “virtual reality”. Some HMDs are self-contained, not requiring connection to a computer or console. Arguably, the market is <a href="https://3dinsider.com/oculus-vs-htc-vive-vs-psvr/">dominated</a> by the Oculus range owned by Facebook, the HTC Vive range, and PlayStation VR.</p> <p><strong>VR in a pandemic</strong></p> <p>In a post-coronavirus age, device sharing is problematic. HMDs aren’t easy to clean and VR software can quickly become obsolete, with new headsets sometimes not running two-year-old software. Users also have to deal with costly updates, eyestrain, and having to share displays that sat on someone else’s face.</p> <p>Developing and sharing content across different devices can be a nightmare but there are increasingly <a href="https://www.vrtourviewer.com/">simple</a> and effective ways to create <a href="https://www.pocket-lint.com/ar-vr/news/google/142054-google-arcore-android-s-equivalent-to-apple-arkit-explained">AR</a> and VR content, despite a bewildering range of platforms and equipment (there are more than <a href="https://www.archives.gov/files/applied-research/ncsa/8-an-overview-of-3d-data-content-file-formats-and-viewers.pdf">140 3D file formats</a>).</p> <p>Despite this, many VR projects are not preserved – including <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/8/2425">virtual heritage</a> projects! Even for the largest HMD companies, supplies can be <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/20/21177442/half-life-alyx-vr-headset-compatible-valve-oculus-rift-quest-htc-steamvr-available">limited</a>.</p> <p><strong>Places you can virtually visit now</strong></p> <p>Nonetheless, there are plenty of VR programs available to help relieve lockdown boredom, with many sites <a href="https://www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/best-virtual-reality-apps/">offering</a> <a href="https://www.lifewire.com/virtual-reality-tourism-4129394">lists</a> of their favourite picks.</p> <p>The Street View app for Google Daydream and Cardboard provides a “virtual tour” of <a href="https://chernobyl-city.com/virtual-tour/">Chernobyl</a>. <a href="https://earth.google.com/web/@-10.50049963,35.75744511,1062.93460117a,116.59974009d,35y,0h,0t,0r/data=CisSKRIgMzczNGFmOTk5MTIzMTFlOTliOTNjYmE2MDYxMWYzYzMiBXNwbC0w">Google Earth</a> and <a href="https://earth.google.com/web/@-10.50049963,35.75744511,1062.93460117a,116.59974009d,35y,0h,0t,0r/data=CgQSAggB">Google Earth Voyager</a> feature travel sections, too.</p> <p><a href="https://arvr.google.com/earth/">Google Earth VR</a> is available on the <a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/348250/Google_Earth_VR/">HTC Vive</a> and <a href="https://www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1513995308673845/">Oculus Rift</a>. <a href="https://www.vrfocus.com/tag/tourism/">VRfocus</a> also has an interesting travel section. You can virtually explore <a href="https://grandtour.myswitzerland.com/">Switzerland</a> or <a href="https://www.virtualyosemite.org/">Yosemite</a>.</p> <p>Or you may want to stay in Australia. Australian company <a href="http://whitesparkpictures.com.au/">White Spark Pictures’</a> Cinematic/360 experience of <a href="https://www.dneg.com/antarctica_vr/">Antarctica</a> tours museums. Melbourne-based company <a href="https://www.lithodomosvr.com/">Lithodomos</a> brings “the ancient world to life” and <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=no.hallingdata.hiddenar&amp;hl=en_AU">Hidden AR</a> offers mythical augmented reality.</p> <p>Other links to check out include:</p> <ul> <li>the Guardian’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/mar/23/10-of-the-worlds-best-virtual-museum-and-art-gallery-tours">review</a> of the world’s best virtual museum and art gallery tours</li> <li><a href="https://artsandculture.google.com/">Google Arts and Culture’s</a> virtual tours and online exhibits from myriad <a href="https://artsandculture.google.com/partner?hl=en">museums and galleries</a>, as well as scavenger hunts – including at <a href="https://artsandculture.google.com/project/virtual-tours">the British Museum</a></li> <li>the Louvre’s <a href="https://arts.vive.com/us/articles/projects/art-photography/mona_lisa_beyond_the_glass/">Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass</a></li> <li>the <a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/515020/The_VR_Museum_of_Fine_Art/">VR Museum of Fine Art</a>.</li> <li>Europeana’s <a href="https://teachwitheuropeana.eun.org/stories-of-implementation/implementation-of-vintage-vr-soi-hr-109/">vintage stereo VR</a> and <a href="https://pro.europeana.eu/data/vintage-stereoscope-cards">examples</a> of how to create stories and <a href="https://teachwitheuropeana.eun.org/learning-scenarios/vintage-vr-ls-es-14/">lessons</a> with stereosonic VR prints</li> <li>The Smithsonian’s <a href="https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour">virtual tour</a> and downloadable <a href="https://3d.si.edu/">3D artefacts</a>, including a tour of a <a href="https://airandspace.si.edu/vrhangar">hangar</a> from the National Air and Space Museum</li> <li><a href="https://sketchfab.com/museums">Sketchfab</a>’s cultural heritage section which can be accessed through <a href="https://sketchfab.com/virtual-reality">VR headsets or Google Cardboard-enabled smartphones</a>. There’s also a places and travel <a href="https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/categories/places-travel?date=week&amp;sort_by=-likeCount">section</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Escapism through gaming</strong></p> <p>There are also VR games with which you can:</p> <ul> <li>escape inside a physical exhibition of Assassin’s Creed – <a href="https://uploadvr.com/preview-e3-2018-assassins-creed-vr-wireless/">Temple of Anubis VR</a></li> <li>travel through New Orleans, <a href="https://store.playstation.com/en-au/product/EP2397-CUSA18498_00-TWDSSSTDEDITION0">but with zombies</a></li> <li>tour medieval fantasy worlds via <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B072MZ3NLC?tag=georiot-au-default-22&amp;th=1&amp;psc=1&amp;ascsubtag=trd-3438856826073335000-22">Skyrim VR</a></li> <li>explore alien worlds with <a href="https://www.playstation.com/en-au/games/no-mans-sky-ps4/">No Man’s Sky</a> on PlayStation VR</li> <li>watch Amazonian <a href="https://www.viveport.com/6792ef3d-0775-4ab4-b3d3-3d9c15b64d47">shamans</a>, or</li> <li>explore <a href="https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/vr/">Minecraft</a> in VR.</li> </ul> <p>VR can show your outer space, and also convey interpretations of <a href="https://www.viveport.com/1edac723-2fed-4e56-b509-b0b8e796ba81">time and space</a>. With it, there is vast potential for travelling to infinity and beyond.</p> <p><em>Written by Erik Malcolm Champion. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/antarctica-without-windchill-the-louvre-without-queues-how-to-travel-the-world-from-home-140174">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Don’t count your fish before they hatch: experts react to plans to release 2 million fish into the Murray Darling

<p>The New South Wales government <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/two-million-fish-to-be-released-into-murray-darling-system-20200608-p550gu.html">plans to release</a> two million native fish into rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin, in the largest breeding program of its kind in the state. But as the river system recovers from a string of mass fish deaths, caution is needed.</p> <p>Having suitable <a href="https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aquaculture/publications/species-freshwater/collecting-finfish-broodstock">breeding fish</a> does not always guarantee millions of healthy offspring for restocking. And even if millions of young fish are released into the wild, increased fish populations in the long term are not assured.</p> <p>For stocking to be successful, fish must be released into <a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/Strategies-to-improve-post-release-survival-of-hatchery-reared-threatened-fish-species_0.pdf">good quality water, with suitable habitat and lots of food</a>. But these conditions have been quite rare in Murray Darling rivers over the past three years.</p> <p>We research the impact of human activity on fish and aquatic systems and have studied many Australian fish restocking programs. So let’s take a closer look at the NSW government’s plans.</p> <p><strong>Success stories</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/two-million-fish-to-be-released-into-murray-darling-system-20200608-p550gu.html">According to</a> the Sydney Morning Herald, the NSW restocking program involves releasing juvenile Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch into the Darling River downstream of Brewarrina, in northwestern NSW.</p> <p>Other areas including the Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, Macquarie and Murray Rivers will reportedly also be restocked. These species and regions were among the hardest hit by recent fish kills.</p> <p>Fish restocking is <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233194500_Stocking_Trends_A_Quantitative_Review_of_Governmental_Fish_Stocking_in_the_United_States_1931_to_2004">used worldwide</a> to boost species after events such as fish kills, help threatened species recover, and increase populations of recreational fishing species.</p> <p>Since the 1970s in the Murray-Darling river system, <a href="https://www.bnbfishing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Assessment-of-stocking-effectiveness-of-Murray-cod-and-golden-perch.pdf">millions of fish</a> have been bred in <a href="https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/science-and-research/centres/narrandera-fisheries-centre">government</a> and <a href="https://www.murraydarlingfisheries.com.au/">private</a> hatcheries in spring each year. Young fish, called fingerlings, are usually released in the following summer and autumn.</p> <p>There have been success stories. For example, the endangered <a href="https://www.fishfiles.com.au/media/fish-magazine/FISH-Vol-23-2/Back-from-the-brink">trout cod</a> was restocked into the Ovens and Murrumbidgee Rivers between <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235774467_Reintroduction_success_of_threatened_Australian_trout_cod_Maccullochella_macquariensis_based_on_growth_and_reproduction">1997 and 2006</a>. Prior to the restocking program, the species was locally extinct. It’s now re-established in the Murrumbidgee River and no longer requires stocking to maintain the population.</p> <p>In response to fish kills in 2010, the Edward-Wakool river system <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/aec.12424">was restocked</a> to help fish recover when natural spawning was expected to be low. And the threatened Murray hardyhead is now increasing in numbers thanks <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/water/wetlands/publications/wetlands-australia/national-wetlands-update-february-2020/murray-hardyhead#:%7E:text=In%20November%202018%2C%20around%20800,fish%20to%20NSW%20river%20systems.">to a successful stocking program</a> in the Lower Darling.</p> <p>After recent fish kills in the Murray Darling, breeding fish known as “broodstock” were <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/worldtoday/mass-fish-rescue-gets-underway-in-darling-river/11492042">rescued from the river</a> and taken to government and private hatcheries. Eventually, it was expected the rescued fish and their offspring would restock the rivers.</p> <p><strong>Words of caution</strong></p> <p>Fish hatchery managers rarely count their fish before they hatch. It’s quite a challenge to ensure adult fish develop viable eggs that are then fertilised at high rates.</p> <p>Once hatched, larvae must be transported to ponds containing the right amount of plankton for food. The larvae must then avoid predatory birds, be kept free from disease, and grow at the right temperatures.</p> <p>When it comes to releasing the fish into the wild, careful decisions must be made about how many fish to release, where and when. Factors such as water temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen levels must be carefully assessed.</p> <p>Introducing hatchery-reared fish into the wild does <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0044848610004540?casa_token=NbFwq0hZLSgAAAAA:SntmSZkoWH387KKTDvXn-rHg-I6P0P0Q-OfgI6hvb6gp_Hxy82Y9AMIndcMYR3yarSkeFOY_cWE">not always deliver</a> dramatic improvements in fish numbers. Poor water quality, lack of food and <a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/A-review-of-domestication-effects-on-stocked-fish-in-the-MDB.pdf">slow adaptation to the wild</a> can reduce survival rates.</p> <p>In some parts of the Murray-Darling, restocking <a href="https://researchers.cdu.edu.au/en/publications/contribution-of-stocked-fish-to-riverine-populations-of-golden-pe">is likely to</a> have slowed the decline in native fish numbers, although it has not stopped it altogether.</p> <p><strong>Address the root cause</strong></p> <p>Fish stocking decisions are sometimes motivated by economic reasons, such as boosting species sought by anglers who pay licence fees and support tourist industries. But stocking programs must also consider the underlying reasons for declining fish populations.</p> <p>Aside from poor water quality, fish in the Murray Darling are threatened by being sucked into irrigation systems, cold water pollution from dams, dams and weirs blocking migration paths and invasive fish species. These factors must be addressed alongside restocking.</p> <p>Fish should not be released into areas with unsuitable habitat or water quality. The Darling River fish kills were caused by <a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/managing-water/drought-murray-darling-basin/fish-deaths-lower-darling/independent-assessment-fish">low oxygen levels</a>, associated with drought and water extraction. These conditions could rapidly return if we have another hot, dry summer.</p> <p>Stocking rivers with young fish is only one step. They must then grow to adults and successfully breed. So the restocking program must consider the entire fish life cycle, and be coupled with good <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-08-28/more-fish-kills-expected-as-nsw-government-announces-rescue-plan/11457826">river management</a>.</p> <p>The Murray Darling Basin Authority’s <a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/sites/default/files/pubs/Native%20Fish%20Emergency%20Response%20Plan%20-%20October%202019_0.pdf">Native Fish Recovery Strategy</a> includes management actions such as improving fish passage, delivering environmental flows, improving habitat, controlling invasive species and fish harvest restrictions. Funding the strategy’s implementation <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-good-plan-to-help-darling-river-fish-recover-exists-so-lets-get-on-with-it-110168">is a key next step</a>.</p> <p><strong>Looking ahead</strong></p> <p>After recent rains, parts of the Murray Darling river system are now flowing for the first time in years. But some locals say the flows are <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-11/lower-darling-flows-hit-pooncarie-first-time-in-18-months/12137306">only a trickle</a> and more rain is urgently needed.</p> <p><a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/outlooks/#/rainfall/median/weekly/0">Higher than average rainfall</a> is predicted between July and September. This will be needed for restocked fish to thrive. If the rain does not arrive, and other measures are not taken to improve the system’s health, then the restocking plans may be futile.</p> <p><em>Written by Lee Baumgartner, Jamin Forbes and Katie Doyle. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-count-your-fish-before-they-hatch-experts-react-to-plans-to-release-2-million-fish-into-the-murray-darling-140428">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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120 million years ago: Giant crocodiles walked on two legs

<p>Fossilised footprints and tracks provide a direct record of how ancient animals moved. And some preserved behaviours leave us marvelling in disbelief.</p> <p>In research published today in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-66008-7">Scientific Reports</a>, my international team of colleagues and I detail our discovery of exquisitely preserved crocodile footprints, formed about 120 million years ago in what is now Sacheon, South Korea.</p> <p>These trace fossils reveal multiple crocodiles undertaking a very curious behaviour: bipedal walking, much like many dinosaurs.</p> <p>The ancient footprints uncovered resemble those made by humans, as they are long and slender, with a prominent heel impression. But they have additional features, including thick scaly imprints from the sole and toes that are comparatively long with broader impressions.</p> <p>The shape of these footprints compares very well with crocodile tracks known elsewhere, notably <em>Batrachopus</em> tracks from the Jurassic <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10420940490428832">found in the United States</a> – with “<em>Batrachopus</em>” being the name assigned to the tracks themselves.</p> <p>However, instead of being made by quadrupedal, cat-sized crocodiles, the Sacheon fossil tracks are large. With footprints that measure around 24 centimetres long, they come from animals with legs the same height as human legs and bodies more than three metres long.</p> <p><strong>A distant ancestor</strong></p> <p>Today, crocodiles walk on four legs in a wide, squat stance. The Sacheon crocodile trackways we discovered indicate a different pattern of movement. They do not have “handprints”, and the trackways are exceptionally narrow, as if the animals were making the footprints while balancing on a tightrope.</p> <p>This suggests these ancient crocodiles had their legs tucked beneath their body, much like a dinosaur, rather than assuming the typical sprawling posture seen in today’s crocodiles.</p> <p>The tracks could not have been made by dinosaurs. One clear difference between dinosaur and crocodile tracks is that crocodiles walk flat-footed, leaving a clear heel impression. Dinosaurs and their bird descendants walk high on their toes, with the heel off the ground.</p> <p><strong>The devil is in the detail</strong></p> <p>Fossil tracks can be found in many different states of preservation, ranging from excellent to comparatively indistinct. This can make it hard to accurately identify the animals that made them.</p> <p>Often, track sites are either not composed of sediments that help retain the finer features of tracks, or they erode after lengthy exposure to the elements.</p> <p>We know the Sacheon trackmakers were ancient crocodiles because the tracks have been preserved in extraordinary detail.</p> <p>This is due in part to fine, muddy sediment around an ancient lake that was able to hold the footprints while covered by sediment-laden water. Also, the site was freshly excavated for a new rural building development and hadn’t been exposed to erosion.</p> <p><strong>A helpful reference point</strong></p> <p>The perfectly preserved Sacheon tracks became our reference to reassess other unusual trackways that had been described in the area, but were more poorly preserved.</p> <p>Our attention focused on sites at Gain-ri and Adu Island just ten kilometres away from Sacheon, that had eroded trackways within the <a href="https://www.crd.bc.ca/education/our-environment/ecosystems/coastal-marine/intertidal-zone#:%7E:text=The%20intertidal%20zone%20is%20the,high%20and%20low%20tide%20lines.">intertidal zone</a>, between the low and high tide. These narrow trackways with long, slender footprints but no hand prints or tail drag marks echoed the Sacheon crocodile tracks.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10420940.2011.625779">decade earlier</a>, the footprints had been interpreted as made by another ancient animal known as a <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/11/pterosaurs-weirdest-wonders-on-wings/">pterosaur</a>. This ancient winged creature – related to dinosaurs but not officially classified as one – was famed for ruling the skies when dinosaurs ruled the land.</p> <p>Crocodiles and pterosaurs were quite distinct, being predominantly land and air dwellers, respectively. They had very differently shaped hands, but interestingly, the impressions they left with their feet can look very similar.</p> <p>When pterosaurs were on the ground, they typically walked on all fours, using their back feet and hands to support themselves as they moved, just like today’s crocodiles.</p> <p>However, as the “pterosaur” Gain-ri and Adu Island trackways lacked hand prints, they indicate bipedal walking. Thus, the tracks were wrongly ascribed to a pterosaur.</p> <p>When first discovered, pterosaur tracks were known to be very common in South Korea, while crocodile tracks were rare. In the absence of well-preserved footprints, the preferred interpretation was that these tracks were likely evidence of unusual behaviour of the pterosaur, a common trackmaker in the area.</p> <p>With the new evidence from the Sacheon site, it became possible to reevaluate the Gain-ri and Adu Island trackways too, which we now suspect were made by the same crocodile trackmakers strolling around Sacheon 120 million years ago.</p> <p><em>Written by Anthony Romilio. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/120-million-years-ago-giant-crocodiles-walked-on-two-legs-in-what-is-now-south-korea-140335">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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“I love Australia”: 3 things international students want Australians to know

<p>A recent statement from China’s education bureau <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-09/china-warns-students-not-to-return-to-australia-after-coronaviru/12337044">warned Chinese students</a> about studying in Australia due to “racist incidents” during the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>Such statements, and further moves from China’s education agents threatening to redirect students towards international competitors such as the United Kingdom, can negatively affect Australia as a study destination. Australia’s universities are <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-19-what-australian-universities-can-do-to-recover-from-the-loss-of-international-student-fees-139759">already reeling</a> from the loss of international students due to COVID-19.</p> <p>There have been reports some <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-10/chinese-international-students-defend-australia/12340820">international students from China</a> have defended Australia as a study destination. I have been conducting in-depth interviews with ten international students in Australia about their experiences and concerns throughout COVID-19.</p> <p>They too have, mostly, positive things to say.</p> <p>Here are three things they believe Australia should know as we plan our recovery.</p> <p><strong>1. Australians must be more welcoming</strong></p> <p>Negative experiences of international students are more dangerous to long-term recovery than border closures and flight restrictions. At a time of <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0">increased unemployment</a> and <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2020/may/economic-outlook.html#:%7E:text=The%20Australian%20economy%20is%20expected,cent%20in%20the%20June%20quarter.">pessimistic economic forecasts</a>, we risk anti-foreigner sentiment growing.</p> <p>Students I spoke with reported this was already happening. One student from Peru said he had “had quite racist comments like ‘go back to your country’”. Another, from India, spoke at length about part-time jobs now being “offered only to Australian citizens. I was told not to even bring in a CV”.</p> <p>On April 4, the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-03/coronavirus-pm-tells-international-students-time-to-go-to-home/12119568">prime minister</a> called for temporary visa holders to “go home” if they couldn’t support themselves.</p> <p>Each student I spoke with said this was the point in time when they went from feeling a part of their community, to feeling unwelcome.</p> <p>One Indian student told me:</p> <p><em>I have seen a rise in anti-Chinese sentiment and anti-Asian sentiment. I have seen my Japanese flatmate have abuse yelled at her on the street. Calling her a “filthy Asian” and things like this.</em></p> <p>Another student spoke about Labor Senator <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/do-we-want-migrants-to-return-in-the-same-numbers-the-answer-is-no-20200501-p54p2q.html">Kristina Kenneally’s call</a> to “reset” Australia’s temporary migration intake and give Australians a “fair go”.</p> <p>She said: “<em>Definitely, there is a growing anti-immigrant sentiment here. The talk from people in the Australian government that we should be “getting our jobs back for Australians” is constructed in a way to inherently disadvantage people like me, or immigrants. Because it is government policy it will infiltrate across the country and it’s hard to tackle that on an individual level.”</em></p> <p>Each student suggested Australia’s reputation as a welcoming, safe and diverse place was what was going to shape how parents and prospective students made decisions about where to study after the crisis.</p> <p><strong>2. International students are integrated in Australian society</strong></p> <p>The students I spoke with are looking to integrate in local communities as a central part of their overseas experience. They felt they contributed to various parts of Australian society – as tourists and volunteers.</p> <p>And many played an active role in promoting Australia and their city internationally.</p> <p>Daniel, from Peru, is based at a regional Queensland university. He volunteers with a local men’s mental health organisation. He’s taken over the weekly Spanish language program on the local radio station and, until the shutdown, worked part time at a bar and volunteered with a research program measuring local water quality.</p> <p>He said: “<em>Something I have learned here is about a sense of community, about being kind to others. I love Australia and the people I have met so far. Once all this is over, I will go back to my home country and teach them about what I have learned here.”</em></p> <p><strong>3. The government needs to signal its support through clear policy</strong></p> <p>International students want clear policy responses and acknowledgement of the valuable role they play in Australia.</p> <p>Australia’s flattened curve undoubtably works in our favour, giving us an advantage over the United States and the UK.</p> <p>However, the government’s support and welfare may shape how parents and prospective students make future decisions.</p> <p>Clear policy responses matter now. They offer a signal to students – current and future – that Australia recognises the importance of international students, and they are a welcome and supported part of our communities.</p> <p>An example is Australia’s <a href="https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/obscure-rules-and-stalled-visas-jeopardise-australian-recovery">reluctance to guarantee</a> international students will not be penalised from being eligible for a Temporary Graduate Visa if studying online. This visa allows graduates of Australian universities to stay on and work, and is essential to attracting students. Currently students are restricted around the amount of offshore study they can do to be eligible.</p> <p>Canada made <a href="https://www.cicnews.com/2020/04/how-canada-is-helping-international-students-0414222.html">such an adjustment</a> early on, announcing international students could complete 50% of their study online without it impacting their eligibility to eventually apply for a post-study work permit.</p> <p>One Indian student told me:</p> <p><em>I don’t think Indian students will be deterred from their goal to study abroad and to better their lives. But a lot of where they decide to do this depends on how the government reacts and responds. A lot of students are probably going to start looking at Europe and Canada as a better destination because of the policies they have. Canada has been doing a really great job at protecting its international student community.</em></p> <p>International students value human connection and their expectations and contributions extend beyond the lecture hall. They are looking for responses and a recovery strategy that acknowledges this.</p> <p><em>Written by Angela Lehmann. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-love-australia-3-things-international-students-want-australians-to-know-139857">The Conversation. </a></em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Climate explained: does your driving speed make any difference to your car’s emissions?

<p><strong><em>Does reducing speed reduce emissions from the average car?</em></strong></p> <p>Every car has an optimal speed range that results in minimum fuel consumption, but this range differs between vehicle types, design and age.</p> <p>Typically it looks like this graph below: fuel consumption rises from about 80km/h, partly because air resistance increases.</p> <p>But speed is only one factor. No matter what car you are driving, you can reduce fuel consumption (and therefore emissions) by driving more smoothly.</p> <p>This includes anticipating corners and avoiding sudden braking, taking the foot off the accelerator just before reaching the peak of a hill and cruising over it, and removing roof racks or bull bars and heavier items from inside when they are not needed to make the car lighter and more streamlined.</p> <p><strong>Driving wisely</strong></p> <p>In New Zealand, <a href="https://www.aa.co.nz/about/newsroom/media-releases/events/aa-energywise-rally-starts-with-a-rush/">EnergyWise rallies</a> used to be run over a 1200km course around the North Island. They were designed to demonstrate how much fuel could be saved through good driving habits.</p> <p>The competing drivers had to reach each destination within a certain time period. Cruising too slowly at 60-70km/h on straight roads in a 100km/h zone just to save fuel was not an option (also because driving too slowly on open roads can contribute to accidents).</p> <p>The optimum average speed (for both professional and average drivers) was typically around 80km/h. The key to saving fuel was driving smoothly.</p> <p>In the first rally in 2002, the Massey University entry was a brand new diesel-fuelled Volkswagen Golf (kindly loaned by VW NZ), running on 100% biodiesel made from waste animal fat (as Z Energy has been <a href="https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/05/02/106691/biofuels-z-energys-tortuous-carbon-solution">producing</a>).</p> <p>A car running on fossil diesel emits about 2.7kg of carbon dioxide per litre and a petrol car produces 2.3kg per litre. Using biofuels to displace diesel or petrol can reduce emissions by up to 90% per kilometre if the biofuel is made from animal fat from a meat works. The amount varies depending on the source of the biofuel (sugarcane, wheat, oilseed rape). And of course it would be unacceptable if biofuel crops were replacing food crops or forests.</p> <p>Regardless of the car, drivers can reduce fuel consumption by 15-20% by improving driving habits alone – reducing emissions and saving money at the same time.</p> <p><strong>Fuel efficiency</strong></p> <p>When you are thinking of replacing your car, taking into account fuel efficiency is another important way to save on fuel costs and reduce emissions.</p> <p>Many countries, including the US, Japan, China and nations within the European Union, have had fuel efficiency standards for more than a decade. This has driven car manufacturers to design ever <a href="http://www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au/files/files/Light%20Vehicle%20Report/CCA_TransportReport_Appendices.WEB.pdf">more fuel-efficient vehicles</a>.</p> <p>Most light-duty vehicles sold globally are subject to these standards. But Australia and New Zealand have both dragged the chain in this regard, partly because most vehicles are imported.</p> <p>New Zealand also remains hesitant about introducing a “<a href="https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/government-announces-consultation-light-vehicle-fleet-feebate">feebate</a>” scheme, which proposes a fee on imported high-emission cars to make imported hybrids, electric cars and other efficient vehicles cheaper with a subsidy.</p> <p>In New Zealand, driving an <a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-explained-why-switching-to-electric-transport-makes-sense-even-if-electricity-is-not-fully-renewable-136502">electric car results in low emissions</a> because electricity generation is 85% renewable. In Australia, which still relies on coal-fired power, electric cars are responsible for higher emissions unless they are recharged through a local renewable electricity supply.</p> <p>Fuel and electricity prices will inevitably rise. But whether we drive a petrol or electric car, we can all shield ourselves from some of those future price rises by driving more efficiently and less speedily.</p> <p><em>Written by Ralph Sims. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-explained-does-your-driving-speed-make-any-difference-to-your-cars-emissions-140246">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Sun, sand and uncertainty: The promise and peril of a Pacific tourism bubble

<p>Pacific nations have largely <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&amp;objectid=12328702">avoided</a> the worst health effects of COVID-19, but its economic impact has been devastating. With the tourism tap turned off, unemployment has soared while GDP has plummeted.</p> <p>In recent weeks, Fiji Airways laid off 775 employees and souvenir business Jack’s of Fiji laid off 500. In Vanuatu 70% of tourism workers have lost their jobs. Cook Islands is estimated to have experienced a <a href="https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/05/18/1177034/an-island-in-debt">60% drop in GDP</a> in the past three months.</p> <p>In response, many are calling for the Pacific to be included in the proposed <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/121727144/coronavirus-transtasman-travel-bubble-date-down-to-australians-winston-peters-says">trans-Tasman travel corridor</a>. Such calls have come from <a href="https://devpolicy.org/vanuatu-a-tourism-sector-perspective-on-potential-recovery-from-covid-19-and-tc-harold-20200506-1/">tourism operators</a>, <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/418156/pressure-mounts-on-nz-and-aust-to-include-pacific-in-bubble">politicians</a> and at least one <a href="https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/2020/05/28/1205479/nz-pacific-islands-bubble-should-come-first">health expert</a>.</p> <p>Quarantine concerns aside, there is economic logic to this. Australians and New Zealanders make up <a href="http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2019/06/tourism-sector-achieves-3-16-million-visitor-arrivals-in-18/">more than 50%</a> of travellers to the region. Some countries are massively dependent: two-thirds of visitors to Fiji and three-quarters of visitors to Cook Islands are Aussies and Kiwis.</p> <p>Cook Islands has budgeted NZ$140 million for economic recovery, but this will increase the tiny nation’s debt. Prime Minister Henry Puna has <a href="https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2020/06/cook-islands-prime-minister-calls-for-pacific-bubble-as-soon-as-new-zealand-enters-covid-19-alert-level-1.html">argued for</a> a limited tourism bubble as soon as New Zealand relaxes its COVID-19 restrictions to alert level 1. Cook Islands News editor Jonathan Milne <a href="https://player.whooshkaa.com/coronavirus-nz?episode=665993">estimates</a> 75-80% of the population is “desperate to get the tourists back”.</p> <p>A Pacific bubble would undoubtedly help economic recovery. But this merely highlights how <a href="https://www.eco-business.com/opinion/impact-of-covid-19-on-tourism-in-small-island-developing-states/">vulnerable</a> these island economies have become. Tourism <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337854342_Development_and_change_Reflections_on_tourism_in_the_South_Pacific">accounts</a> for between 10% and 70% of GDP and up to one in four jobs across the South Pacific.</p> <p>The pressure to reopen borders is understandable. But we argue that a tourism bubble cannot be looked at in isolation. It should be part of a broader strategy to diversify economies and enhance linkages (e.g. between agriculture and tourism, to put more local food on restaurant menus), especially in those countries that are most perilously dependent on tourism.</p> <p><strong>Over-dependence on tourism is a trap</strong></p> <p>Pacific nations such as Vanuatu and Fiji have recovered quickly from past crises such as the GFC, cyclones and coups because of the continuity of tourism. COVID-19 has turned that upside down.</p> <p>People are coping in the short term by reviving subsistence farming, fishing and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/08/two-piglets-for-a-kayak-fiji-returns-to-barter-system-as-covid-19-hits-economy">bartering</a> for goods and services. Many are still suffering, however, due to limited state welfare systems.</p> <p>In Fiji’s case, the government has taken the drastic step of allowing laid-off or temporarily unemployed workers to withdraw from their superannuation savings in the National Provident Fund. Retirement funds have also been used to <a href="https://www.fijivillage.com/news/We-need-Fiji-Airways-to-come-back-strongly-for-the-future-of-the-country---Koroi-48r5xf/">lend FJ$53.6 million</a> to the struggling national carrier, Fiji Airways.</p> <p>Fiji has taken on more debt to cope. Its debt-to-GDP ratio, which ideally should sit below 40% for developing economies, has risen from 48.9% before the pandemic to 60.9%. It’s likely to <a href="http://www.economy.gov.fj/images/Budget/budgetdocuments/supplements/SUPPLEMENT-TO-THE-COVID-19-RESPONSE-BUDGET-ADDRESS.pdf">increase further</a>.</p> <p>High debt, lack of economic diversity and dependence on tourism put the Fijian economy in a very vulnerable position. Recovery will take a long time, probably requiring assistance from the country’s main trading partners. In the meantime, Fiji is pinning hopes on joining a New Zealand-Australia <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/416392/fiji-keen-to-join-nz-australia-travel-bubble">travel bubble</a>.</p> <p><strong>Out of crisis comes opportunity</strong></p> <p>Supporting Pacific states to recover is an opportunity for New Zealand and Australia to put their respective Pacific <a href="https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/about-us/mfat-annual-reports/mfat-annual-report-2018-19/case-study-the-pacific-reset-a-year-on/">Reset</a> and <a href="https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/pacific/Pages/the-pacific">Step-Up</a> policies into practice. If building more reciprocal, equitable relationships with Pacific states is the goal, now is the time to ensure economic recovery also strengthens their socio-economic, environmental and political infrastructures.</p> <p>Economic well-being within the Pacific region is already closely linked to New Zealand and Australia through seasonal workers in horticulture and viticulture, remittance payments, trade and travel. But for many years there has been a major trade imbalance in favour of New Zealand and Australia. Shifting that balance beyond the recovery phase will involve facilitating long-term resilience and sustainable development in the region.</p> <p>A good place to start would be the recent United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific <a href="https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/Policy%20brief_MPFD_Combating%20COVID-19%20in%20Asia%20and%20the%20Pacific%20updated.pdf">report</a> on recovering from COVID-19. Its recommendations include such measures as implementing social protection programs, integrating climate action into plans to revive economies, and encouraging more socially and environmentally responsible businesses.</p> <p>This is about more than altruism – enlightened self-interest should also drive the New Zealand and Australian agenda. Any longer-term economic downturn in the South Pacific, due in part to over-reliance on tourism, could lead to instability in the region. There is a clear <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/11/the-next-economic-crisis-could-cause-a-global-conflict-heres-why">link</a> between serious economic crises and social unrest.</p> <p>At a broader level, the pandemic is already <a href="https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Coronavirus-gives-China-an-edge-as-it-expands-sway-in-the-Pacific">entrenching</a> Chinese regional influence: loans from China make up 62% of Tonga’s total foreign borrowing; for Vanuatu the figure is 43%; for Samoa 39%.</p> <p>China is taking the initiative through what some call “<a href="https://devpolicy.org/chinas-coronavirus-covid-19-diplomacy-in-the-pacific-20200527-1/">COVID-19 diplomacy</a>”. This involves funding pandemic stimulus packages and offering aid and investment throughout the Pacific, including drafting a <a href="https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/free-trade-agreement-talks-underway-between-fiji-and-china/">free trade agreement</a> with Fiji.</p> <p>That is not to say Chinese investment in Pacific economies won’t do good. Rather, it is an argument for thinking beyond the immediate benefits of a travel bubble. By realigning their development priorities, Australia and New Zealand can help the Pacific build a better, more sustainable future.</p> <p><em>Written by Regina Scheyvens and Apisalome Movono. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/sun-sand-and-uncertainty-the-promise-and-peril-of-a-pacific-tourism-bubble-139661">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Climate change is the most important mission for universities of the 21st century

<p>Universities are confronting the possibility of <a href="https://melbourne-cshe.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/3392469/Australian-Universities-COVID-19-Financial-Management.pdf">profound sector-wide transformation</a> due to the continuing effects of COVID-19. It is prompting much needed debate about what such transformation should look like and what kind of system is in the public interest.</p> <p>This is now an urgent conversation. If universities want a say in what the future of higher education will look like, they will need to generate ideas quickly and in a way that attracts wide public support.</p> <p>This will involve articulating their unique role as embedded, future-regarding, ethical generators of crucial knowledge and skills, well-equipped to handle coming contingencies and helping others do the same.</p> <p>And this means higher education changes are entangled with another major force for transformation – climate change.</p> <p>How can universities credibly claim to be preparing young people for their futures, or to be working with employers, if they do not take into account the kind of world they are helping to bring about?</p> <p><strong>A vital role in a climate changed world</strong></p> <p>Whether indexed by the continual climb in <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heat-and-humidity-are-already-reaching-the-limits-of-human-tolerance/">extreme heat and humidity</a>, the <a href="http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/">melting of Arctic ice</a>, the eruption of <a href="https://www.science.org.au/news-and-events/news-and-media-releases/australian-bushfires-why-they-are-unprecedented">unprecedented mega-fire events</a> or the <a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/">rapid degradation of ecosystems</a> and <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/05/26/2008198117">disruption of human settlements</a>, climate change is here.</p> <p>It is rapidly exacerbating environmental and social stress across the globe, as well as directly and indirectly impacting all institutions and areas of life. And worse still, global greenhouse gas concentrations are moving in exactly the opposite direction to what we need, with <a href="https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html">carbon emissions growing by 2.0% in 2019, the fastest growth for seven years</a>.</p> <p>Much-needed transitions towards low carbon and well-adapted systems are emerging. But they are too piecemeal and slow relative to what is needed to avoid large scale <a href="https://www.deepsouthchallenge.co.nz/projects/climate-change-cascade-effect">cascading</a> and <a href="https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/compound-costs-how-climate-change-damages-australias-economy/">compounding impacts to our planet</a>.</p> <p>Universities, along with all other parts of our society, will feel the effects of climate change. The cost of the devastation at the Australian National University due to the summer’s fires and hailstorm, for instance, is estimated to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-27/coronavirus-hail-bushfires-cause-225m-loss-at-anu/12290522">be A$75 million dollars</a>.</p> <p>Failure to appropriately adapt to the increasing likelihood of such events <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0715-2">threatens to undermine research of all sorts</a>.</p> <p>Whether due to climate impacts (such as <a href="https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/09/06/npr-coastal-labs-studying-increased-flooding-consider-moving-due-to-increased-floodin">the effects of sea level rise on coastal laboratories</a>) or policy and market shifts away from carbon-intensive activities (such as coal powered energy), research investments face the risk of becoming <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-stranded-assets-matter-and-should-not-be-dismissed-51939">stranded assets</a>. Not only could expensive infrastructure and equipment be rendered redundant, but certain skills, capabilities and projects could too.</p> <p>Universities are key to enabling Australian society to transition to a safer and lower emissions pathway. They are needed to provide the knowledge, skills and technologies for this positive transition. And they are also needed to <a href="https://climateoutreach.org/system-change-vs-behaviour-change-is-a-false-choice-covid-19-shows-how-theyre-connected/">foster the social dialogue and build the broad public mandate</a> to get there.</p> <p>This means old ideas of universities as isolated and values-free zones, and newer notions of them as cheap consultants to the private sector, fundamentally fail to fulfil the role universities now need to play.</p> <p>They must become public good, mission-driven organisations devoted to rapidly progressing human understanding and action on the largest threat there has ever been, to what they are taken to represent and advance – human civilisation.</p> <p><strong>Universities must become more sustainable…</strong></p> <p>Inaction will erode the trust on which universities rely, especially among the key constituencies universities are meant to serve – young people and the private, community and public sectors.</p> <p><a href="https://globalclimatestrike.net/">Students</a>, <a href="https://www.asyousow.org/report/clean200-2019-q1">businesses</a>, <a href="https://en.unesco.org/events/climate-change-and-ngos-eight-international-forum-ngos-official-partnership-unesco">not-for-profit organisations</a> and certain <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/09/climate-change-report-card-co2-emissions/">governments</a> are already acting far more forcefully than universities, even as the latter claim to be intellectual leaders.</p> <p>Who universities invest in, fund, partner with and teach, and how, will increasingly be judged through a climate change lens. All actors in the fossil fuel value chain – including <a href="https://www.marketforces.org.au/marsh-mclennan-present-greenwash-at-agm/">insurance brokers</a> and <a href="https://gofossilfree.org/australia/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/09/ExposeTheTies_digital.pdf?_ga=2.89096216.248025022.1590905170-1969762787.1590905170">researchers</a> – are coming under pressure to stop facilitating a form of production that enriches a few while endangering all.</p> <p>Networks such as the <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/04/03/universities-form-global-network-climate-change">International Universities Climate Alliance</a>, the <a href="http://www.gauc.net/about/about.html">Global Alliance of Universities on Climate</a> and <a href="https://www.acts.asn.au/">Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability</a> are pushing for change in and by the sector.</p> <p>In 2019, <a href="https://www.universityworldnews.com/post.php?story=20190710141435609">three global university networks organised an open letter</a> signed by more than 7,000 higher and further education institutions. It called for the sector to reduce emissions and invest in climate change research, teaching and outreach. Even more have signed the <a href="https://www.sdgaccord.org/climateletter">SDG (sustainable development goals) Accord’s climate emergency declaration</a>, which calls for:</p> <ul> <li>mobilising more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation</li> <li>committing to going carbon neutral by 2030 or 2050 at the very latest</li> <li>increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curriculum, campus and community outreach programs.</li> </ul> <p>Some universities are already starting to build aspects of climate change into their operations. Most prominent have been efforts to divest university finances from direct support of fossil fuels. While some institutions are still dragging their feet, the University of California has announced it will <a href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-19/uc-fossil-fuel-divest-climate-change">fully divest </a> its US$126 billion endowment from fossil fuels.</p> <p>Pressure is similarly growing for <a href="https://unisuperdivest.org/">Unisuper to stop investing</a> Australian university staff superannuation into corporations that endanger the very future staff are saving for.</p> <p>University campuses are being refigured as sites of energy production and consumption. <a href="https://www.strathmore.edu/serc/">Strathmore University in Kenya </a>and <a href="https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2019/nov/rmit-leads-the-way-on-renewable-energy">RMIT University in Australia</a> are among those who produce their own renewable energy.</p> <p>Although <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-universities-are-not-walking-the-talk-on-going-low-carbon-72411">few universities are working towards absolute reductions in emissions</a>, or have appropriate climate adaptation plans, initiatives such as the <a href="https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/best-universities/top-universities-climate-action">Times Higher Education Impact Index</a> are increasing interest in visible climate action.</p> <p><strong>… and they must change teaching and research</strong></p> <p>Teaching and research too must change. University students can <a href="https://study.curtin.edu.au/offering/course-pg-masters-of-environment-and-climate-emergency--mc-envclm/">choose programs and optional modules dedicated to climate change</a>. But this isn’t enough. Climate change has to be integrated in all disciplines.</p> <p>It is essential universities do not quarantine climate change as some kind of specialist topic. A <a href="https://journals.aom.org/doi/full/10.5465/amp.2018.0183.summary">recent analysis of management studies</a> found a profound lack of engagement across the discipline with the implications of climate change.</p> <p>As Cornell University’s Professor of Engineering Anthony Ingraffea argues, when it comes to educating the future generation, <a href="https://www.enr.com/articles/48389-a-call-to-action-for-engineers-on-climate-change">“doing the right thing on climate change should be baked into an engineer’s DNA”</a>.</p> <p>This means recognising the strong overlap between work that has instrumental value for climate change action and work that celebrates the intrinsic value of human understanding. The intellectual and social challenges presented by climate change are perhaps the greatest justification yet for why we need open-minded, open-ended exploration and dialogue of the sort universities can provide.</p> <p>Universities produce the knowledge galvanising others to act. It is time for them to act too. It is time for all of us who work in or with universities to reappraise our institutions in light of the changes needed, the changes coming, and the changes already here.</p> <p>This is the public mission of universities in the 21st century. And it is the most pressing mission there is.</p> <p><em>Written by Lauren Richards and Tamson Pietsch. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-the-most-important-mission-for-universities-of-the-21st-century-139214"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p>

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Turn off the porch light: 6 easy ways to stop light pollution from harming our wildlife

<p>As winter approaches, marine turtle nesting in the far north of Australia <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/2eb379de-931b-4547-8bcc-f96c73065f54/files/national-light-pollution-guidelines-wildlife.pdf">will peak</a>. When these baby turtles hatch at night, they crawl from the sand to the sea, using the relative brightness of the horizon and the natural slope of the beach as their guide.</p> <p>But when artificial lights outshine the moon and the sea, these hatchlings become disorientated. This leaves them vulnerable to predators, exhaustion and even traffic if they head in the wrong direction.</p> <p>Baby turtles are one small part of the larger, often overlooked, story of how light pollution harms wildlife across the <a href="https://theconversation.com/getting-smarter-about-city-lights-is-good-for-us-and-nature-too-69556">land</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/bright-city-lights-are-keeping-ocean-predators-awake-and-hungry-68965">underwater</a>.</p> <p>Green Turtle’s Battle For Survival | Planet Earth | BBC Earth.</p> <p>Today, more than 80% of people – and 99% of North American and European human populations – <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/6/e1600377">live under light-polluted skies</a>. We have transformed the night-time environment over substantial portions of the Earth’s surface in a very short time, relative to evolutionary timescales. Most wildlife hasn’t had time to adjust.</p> <p>In January, Australia released the <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/publications/national-light-pollution-guidelines-wildlife">National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife</a>. These guidelines provide a framework for assessing and managing the impacts of artificial light.</p> <p>The guidelines also identify practical solutions that can be used globally to manage light pollution, both by managers and practitioners, and by anyone in control of a light switch.</p> <p>The guidelines outline six easy steps anyone can follow to minimise light pollution without compromising our own safety.</p> <p>Although light pollution is a global problem and true darkness is hard to come by, we can all do our part to reduce its impacts on wildlife by changing how we use and think about light at night.</p> <p><strong>1. Start with natural darkness. Only add light for a specific purpose</strong></p> <p>Natural darkness should be the default at night. Artificial light should only be used if it’s needed for a specific purpose, and it should only be turned on for the necessary period of time.</p> <p>This means it’s okay to have your veranda light on to help you find your keys, but the light doesn’t need to stay on all night.</p> <p>Similarly, indoor lighting can also contribute to light pollution, so turning lights off in empty office buildings at night, or in your home before you go to sleep, is also important.</p> <p><strong>2. Use smart lighting controls</strong></p> <p>Advances in smart control technology make it easy to manage how much light you use, and adaptive controls make meeting the goals of Step 1 more feasible.</p> <p>Investing in smart controls and LED technology means you can remotely manage your lights, set timers or dimmers, activate motion sensor lighting, and even control the colour of the light emitted.</p> <p>These smart controls should be used to activate artificial light at night only when needed, and to minimise light when not needed.</p> <p><strong>3. Keep lights close to the ground, directed and shielded</strong></p> <p>Any light that spills outside the specific area intended to be lit is unnecessary light.</p> <p>Light spilling upward contributes directly to artificial sky glow – the glow you see over urban areas from cumulative sources of light. Both sky glow and light spilling into adjacent areas on the ground can disrupt wildlife.</p> <p>Installing <a href="https://www.ledlightexpert.com/Light-Shields-Explained--Outdoor-Parking-Lot-Light-Shielding_b_42.html">light shields</a> allow you to direct the light downward, which significantly reduces sky glow, and to direct the light towards the specific target area. Light shields are recommended for any outdoor lighting installations.</p> <p><strong>4. Use the lowest intensity lighting</strong></p> <p>When deciding how much light you need, consider the intensity of the light produced (lumens), rather than the energy required to make it (watts).</p> <p>LEDs, for example, are often considered an “environmentally friendly” option because they’re relatively energy efficient. But because of their energy efficiency, LEDs produce between two and five times as much light as incandescent bulbs for the same amount of energy consumption.</p> <p>So, while LED lights save energy, the increased intensity of the light can lead to greater impacts on wildlife, if not managed properly.</p> <p><strong>5. Use non-reflective, dark-coloured surfaces.</strong></p> <p>Sky glow has been shown to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/srep01722">mask lunar light rhythms</a> of wildlife, interfering with the celestial navigation and migration of <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/313/5788/837">birds</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/424033a">insects</a>.</p> <p>Highly polished, shiny, or light-coloured surfaces – such as structures painted white, or polished marble – are good at reflecting light and so contribute more to sky glow than darker, non-reflective surfaces.</p> <p>Choosing darker coloured paint or materials for outdoor features will help reduce your contribution to light pollution.</p> <p><strong>6. Use lights with reduced or filtered blue, violet and ultra-violet wavelengths</strong></p> <p>Most animals are sensitive to short-wavelength light, which creates blue and violet colours. These short wavelengths are known to suppress melatonin production, which is known to disrupt sleep and interfere with circadian rhythms of many animals, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/22/6400/htm">including humans</a>.</p> <p>Choosing lighting options with little or no short wavelength (400-500 nanometres) violet or blue light will help to avoid unintended harmful effects on wildlife.</p> <p>For example, compact fluorescent and LED lights have a high amount of short wavelength light, compared low or high-pressure sodium, metal halide, and halogen light sources.</p> <p><em>Written by Emily fobert, Katherine Dafforn and Mariana Mayer-Pinto. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/turn-off-the-porch-light-6-easy-ways-to-stop-light-pollution-from-harming-our-wildlife-132595">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Couple who caught coronavirus on Ruby Princess “can’t wait to cruise again”

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>Despite catching coronavirus on the Ruby Princess, a couple say they can’t wait to cruise again.</p> <p>Ursula Steinberner and Leon Sharp both caught the illness while on board, with Steinberner spending 10 days in intensive care thinking they were going to die.</p> <p>The couple explained that they “can’t wait to go on another cruise” to<span> </span>ABC’s<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-28/couple-caught-coronavirus-on-ruby-princess-but-will-cruise-again/12283368" target="_blank">7:30</a>.</p> <p>"We've already been down and seen them at Helloworld where we booked our last one," Mr Sharp said.</p> <p>"A lot of people said, 'You got rocks in your head. Why?' I said you've never been on a cruise. This was our first cruise and it won't be our last."</p> <p>Ms Steinberner explained that the cruise ship was “beautiful”.</p> <p>"It was something like being in Las Vegas," Mr Sharp added. "It was just like a floating hotel. Magnificent.</p> <p>"Everything on board was just a highlight. The shows, the staff were fantastic, couldn't do enough for you."</p> <p>The pair recalled feeling ill after returning home to Port Augusta, South Australia.</p> <p>"[I] just started to perspire, I was wringing wet. Ursula saw me and she said, 'What's wrong with you?' And I feel that hot I'm burning up.</p> <p>"I've never been so sick in my life."</p> <p>As Ms Steinberner was a kidney transplant recipient, the virus hit her extremely hard.</p> <p>"I did at one stage think this was curtains for me. You only get so many chances," she told 7.30.</p> <p>The pair are not blaming the cruise company for what happened to them.</p> <p>"It was I think a big case of bad luck, and if you live your life worrying about what you're going to get while you're travelling, you're not really living your life, are you?" Ms Steinberner said.</p> <p>"You'll never go anywhere and that's what we want to do. We're going on another cruise."</p> <p>Their next cruise will take the couple from Singapore to Thailand, Cambodia and Bali.</p> <p><em>Photo credits: <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-28/couple-caught-coronavirus-on-ruby-princess-but-will-cruise-again/12283368" target="_blank">ABC</a></em></p> </div> </div> </div>

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Be still, my beating wings: Hunters kill migrating birds on their 10,000km journey to Australia

<p>It is low tide at the end of the wet season in Broome, Western Australia. Shorebirds feeding voraciously on worms and clams suddenly get restless.</p> <p>Chattering loudly they take flight, circling up over Roebuck Bay then heading off for their northern breeding grounds more than 10,000 km away. I marvel at the epic journey ahead, and wonder how these birds will fare.</p> <p>In my former role as an assistant warden at the Broome Bird Observatory, I had the privilege of watching shorebirds, such as the bar-tailed godwit, set off on their annual migration.</p> <p>I’m now a conservation researcher at the University of Queensland, focusing on birds. Populations of migratory shorebirds are in sharp decline, and some are threatened with extinction.</p> <p>We know the destruction of coastal habitats for infrastructure development has <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14895">taken a big toll on these amazing birds</a>. But a study I conducted with a large international team, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320719311036">which has just been published</a>, suggests hunting is also a likely key threat.</p> <p><strong>What are migratory shorebirds?</strong></p> <p>Worldwide, there are 139 migratory shorebird species. About 75 species breed at high latitudes across Asia, Europe, and North America then migrate south in a yearly cycle.</p> <p>Some 61 migratory shorebird species occur in the Asia-Pacific, within the so-called East Asian-Australasian Flyway. This corridor includes 22 countries – from breeding grounds as far north as Alaska and Siberia to non-breeding grounds as far south as Tasmania and New Zealand. In between are counties in Asia’s east and southeast, such as South Korea and Vietnam.</p> <p>The bar-tailed godwits I used to observe at Roebuck Bay breed in Russia’s Arctic circle. They’re among about 36 migratory shorebird species to visit Australia each year, <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/da31ad38-f874-4746-a971-5510527694a4/files/revision-east-asian-australasian-flyway-population-sept-2016.pdf">amounting to more than two million birds</a>.</p> <p>They primarily arrive towards the end of the year in all states and territories – visiting coastal areas such as Moreton Bay in Queensland, Eighty Mile Beach in Western Australia, and Corner Inlet in Victoria.</p> <p>Numbers of migratory shorebirds have been falling for many species in the flyway. The trends have been detected since the 1970s <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/MU/MU15056">using citizen science data sets</a>.</p> <p>Five of the 61 migratory shorebird species in this flyway are globally threatened. Two travel to Australia: the great knot and far eastern curlew.</p> <p>Threats to these birds are many. They include the <a href="http://decision-point.com.au/article/between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/">loss of their critical habitats</a> along their migration path, <a href="https://theconversation.com/contested-spaces-saving-nature-when-our-beaches-have-gone-to-the-dogs-72078">off-leash dogs disturbing them on Australian beaches</a>, and climate change likely <a href="https://theconversation.com/arctic-birds-face-disappearing-breeding-grounds-as-climate-warms-62656">contracting their breeding grounds</a>.</p> <p><strong>And what about hunting?</strong></p> <p>During their migration, shorebirds stop to rest and feed along a network of wetlands and mudflats. They appear predictably and in large numbers at certain sites, making them relatively easy targets for hunters.</p> <p>Estimating the extent to which birds are hunted over large areas was like completing a giant jigsaw puzzle. We spent many months scouring the literature, obtaining data and reports from colleagues then carefully assembling the pieces.</p> <p>We discovered that since the 1970s, three-quarters of all migratory shorebird species in the flyway have been hunted at some point. This includes almost all those visiting Australia and four of the five globally threatened species.</p> <p>Some records relate to historical hunting that has since been banned. For example the Latham’s snipe, a shorebird that breeds in Japan, was legally hunted in Australia until the 1980s. All migratory shorebirds are now legally protected from hunting in Australia.</p> <p>We found evidence that hunting of migratory shorebirds has occurred in 14 countries, including New Zealand and Japan, with most recent records concentrated in southeast Asia, such as Indonesia, and the northern breeding grounds, such as the US.</p> <p>For a further eight, such as Mongolia and South Korea, we could not determine whether hunting has ever occurred.</p> <p>Our research suggests hunting has likely exceeded sustainable limits in some instances. Hunting has also been pervasive – spanning vast areas over many years and involving many species.</p> <p><strong>Looking ahead</strong></p> <p>The motivations of hunters vary across the flyway, according to needs, norms, and cultural traditions. For instance, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/condor/article-abstract/121/2/duz023/5523065?redirectedFrom=fulltext">Native Americans in Alaska</a> hunt shorebirds as a food source after winter, and <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c1a9e03f407b482a158da87/t/5c42eb8e8a922d3a72d42879/1547889551203/Chowdury-Sonadia.pdf">low-income people in Southeast Asia hunt and sell them</a>.</p> <p>National governments, supported by NGOs and researchers, must find the right balance between conservation and other needs, such as food security.</p> <p>Efforts to address hunting are already underway. This includes mechanisms such as the <a href="https://www.cms.int/en/taskforce/ittea">United Nations Convention</a> on Migratory Species and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway <a href="https://www.eaaflyway.net/task-force-on-illegal-hunting-taking-and-trade-of-migratory-waterbirds/">Partnership</a>. Other efforts involve helping hunters find <a href="https://www.birdlife.org/asia/news/targeting-hunters-save-spoon-billed-sandpiper">alternative livelihoods</a>.</p> <p>Our understanding of hunting as a potential threat is hindered by a lack of coordinated monitoring across the Asia-Pacific.</p> <p>Additional surveys by BirdLife International, as well as <a href="https://cpree.princeton.edu/research/biodiversity/saving-endangered-species">university researchers</a>, is underway in southeast Asia, China, and Russia. Improving hunting assessments, and coordination between them, is essential. Without it, we are acting in the dark.</p> <p><em>The author would like to acknowledge the contributions of Professor Richard A. Fuller (University of Queensland), Professor Tiffany H. Morrison (James Cook University), Dr Bradley Woodworth (University of Queensland), Dr Taej Mundkur (Wetlands International), Dr Ding Li Yong (BirdLife International-Asia), and Professor James E.M. Watson (University of Queensland).</em></p> <p><em>Written by Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/be-still-my-beating-wings-hunters-kill-migrating-birds-on-their-10-000km-journey-to-australia-138382">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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The coronavirus survival challenge for NZ tourism: affordability and sustainability

<p>Until a trans-Tasman travel bubble is <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-04/trans-tasman-bubble-coronavirus-what-might-happen-next/12212580">established</a>, there is little doubt the New Zealand tourism industry will <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/413845/covid-19-domestic-travellers-eyed-to-keep-tourism-sector-viable-after-lockdown">rely entirely</a> on domestic travel post-COVID-19.</p> <p>Without underplaying the impact the pandemic will have on discretionary spending in both countries, however, there may be a silver lining to the crisis.</p> <p>New Zealand is in the fortunate position of having an <a href="https://tia.org.nz/about-the-industry/quick-facts-and-figures/">already strong</a> domestic tourism sector. Domestic tourists spent NZ$23.7 billion annually (or NZ$65 million a day) pre-COVID-19, compared to a total spend of NZ$12.7 billion (or NZ$47 million a day) by international visitors. <a href="https://openrepository.aut.ac.nz/handle/10292/11857">Research</a> pre-COVID-19 showed 65% of New Zealanders wanted to explore more of their country, a figure expected to increase.</p> <p>True, New Zealanders generally don’t have the deep pockets international tourists have. Their higher overall spend is a reflection of their numbers, not their bank balances. But with the big ticket tourist attractions now missing the bigger spenders, the market will rule.</p> <p>Regional tourism organisations, attractions and operators may need to rethink their offerings and their pricing. While tramping the <a href="https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/things-to-do/walking-and-tramping/great-walks/">great walks</a> may be perfectly affordable for a family of four, taking the family on a whale watch, a bungy jump or a cruise on Milford Sound may not be – especially as parts of one big holiday. Indeed, it has been found that <a href="https://openrepository.aut.ac.nz/handle/10292/11857">price</a> is the major decision-making factor for 30% of New Zealanders when it comes to holidays.</p> <p>So this is also an opportunity to give New Zealanders back a piece of the summer pie – not only for the COVID-19 recovery but in the longer term. Summers have tended to be characterised by a large influx of international tourists, with Kiwis settling for shoulder seasons (and unfavourable weather) to tramp the famous tracks when they are <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/99088942/tourists-outnumber-new-zealanders-on-the-great-walks--and-the-gaps-growing">less crowded</a>.</p> <p>But domestic tourists who have grown accustomed to off-peak holidays away from high-cost destinations will soon tip the scales. Now is the time for operators to win back their hearts.</p> <p>With New Zealand’s gradual easing of its strict lockdown (possibly to the stage of allowing non-essential travel by mid-May), tourism can clearly support the economic revival of local communities. The challenge is how to reinvent New Zealand tourism as an initially purely domestic industry.</p> <p>Overall, only a handful of New Zealand destinations have depended entirely on international tourists. These also happen to be the places most heavily associated with overtourism in the past. Given that the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14616688.2020.1759131">growth model</a> driven by short-term, dollars-first business thinking has led to an <a href="https://www.noted.co.nz/money/money-economy/nz-tourists-should-we-limit-number-visitors">unsustainable</a> tourism market, might this also be a chance to restore some equilibrium?</p> <p>That will mean no more killing the goose that lays the <a href="https://www.pce.parliament.nz/publications/pristine-popular-imperilled-the-environmental-consequences-of-projected-tourism-growth">golden egg</a>. Some hotspots, such as the <a href="https://www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz/">Tongariro Alpine Crossing</a> and <a href="https://www.thecoromandel.com/activities/must-do/hot-water-beach/">Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach</a> may be managed by restricting visitor numbers.</p> <p>Such strategies have long been in place in other places, such as the <a href="https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/fiordland/places/fiordland-national-park/things-to-do/tracks/milford-track/">booking requirement</a> for the Milford Track. We have also seen tremendous problems associated with too many cruise ships in too small places. Akaroa is a prime example, and limiting both the number of visits and the size of vessels may be a feasible <a href="https://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018685520">future strategy</a>.</p> <p>As part of our own research (yet to be published) into the pressing issues of overtourism we conducted interviews with various tourism stakeholders around New Zealand, including city and regional councils, the Department of Conservation, residents and operators. This took place just before New Zealand’s strictest lockdown level was imposed, without any real foreknowledge of the eventual economic impact of COVID-19.</p> <p>Nonetheless, our interviewees shared very similar sentiments when it came to how the industry can evolve sustainably only if New Zealanders themselves embrace the behaviours they expect (and sometimes demand) of foreign tourists. According to our subjects, too many Kiwis still hold on to a past when the country’s population was half its current size and SUVs and large motorhomes didn’t crowd the roads and parking lots.</p> <p>Initiatives such as the <a href="https://tiakinewzealand.com/">Tiaki Promise</a>, which promote environmental and cultural sensitivity to tourists, have largely targeted international visitors. These now need to turn the lens inwards so that Kiwis become better ambassadors within their own backyard.</p> <p>Kiwis love their country, but they will now need to truly discover what it has to offer, not only for a weekend of tramping or a quick getaway, but for their main summer holiday. And they will have to become better kaitiaki (or guardians) of their homeland in the process.</p> <p>The absence of international tourists will be a huge challenge, but also an opportunity. If we get it right, when those foreign visitors are allowed to return (most likely at first from Australia) we will have found ways to grow – or limit – their numbers and their expectations so that our tourism industry can thrive as well as survive.</p> <p><em>Written by Sabrina Seeler and Michael Lueck. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-coronavirus-survival-challenge-for-nz-tourism-affordability-and-sustainability-137256">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Fleas to flu to coronavirus: how ‘death ships’ spread disease through the ages

<p>One of the haunting images of this pandemic will be stationary cruise ships – deadly carriers of COVID-19 – at anchor in harbours and unwanted. Docked in ports and feared.</p> <p>The news of the dramatic spread of the virus on the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1632">Diamond Princess</a> from early February made the news real for many Australians who’d enjoyed holidays on the seas. Quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, over 700 of the ship’s crew and passengers became infected. To date, <a href="https://www.cruisemapper.com/accidents/Diamond-Princess-534">14 deaths</a> have been recorded.</p> <p>The Diamond Princess’s sister ship, the Ruby Princess, brought the pandemic to Australian shores. Now under <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/police-to-probe-second-ruby-princess-voyage-as-part-of-criminal-investigation-20200417-p54kpo.html">criminal investigation</a>, the events of the Ruby Princess forced a spotlight on the petri dish cruise ships can become. The ship has been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/05/ruby-princess-was-initially-refused-permission-to-dock-over-coronavirus-fears-inquiry-told">linked to 21 deaths</a>.</p> <p>History shows the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29737663">devastating role ships can play</a> in transmitting viruses across vast continents and over many centuries.</p> <p><strong>Rats in the ranks</strong></p> <p>Merchant ships carrying rats with infected fleas were transmitters of the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/past/article-abstract/244/1/3/5532056?redirectedFrom=fulltext">Plague of Justinian</a> (541-542 AD) that devastated the Byzantine Empire.</p> <p>Ships carrying grain from Egypt were home to flea-infested rats that fed off the granaries. Contantinople was especially inflicted, with estimates as high as <a href="https://www.history.com/news/microbe-behind-black-death-also-caused-devastating-plague-800-years-earlier">5,000 casualties a day</a>. Globally, up to 50 million people are estimated to have been killed – half the world’s population.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/plague-black-death-quarantine-history-how-stop-spread/">Black Death</a> was also carried by rats on merchant ships through the trade routes of Europe. It struck Europe in 1347, when 12 ships docked at the Sicilian port of Messina.</p> <p>Subsequently called “death ships”, those on board were either dead or sick. Soon, the Black Death spread to ports around the world, such as Marseilles, Rome and Florence, and by 1348 had reached London with devastating impact.</p> <p>The Italian writer, poet and scholar, Giovanni Boccaccio, <a href="https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/black-death-oh-father-why-have-you-abandoned-me/">wrote</a> how terror swept through Florence with relatives deserting infected family members. Almost inconceivably, he wrote, “fathers and mothers refused to nurse their own children, as though they did not belong to them”.</p> <p>Ships started being <a href="https://www.historyextra.com/period/medieval/plague-black-death-quarantine-history-how-stop-spread/">turned away</a> from European ports in 1347. Venice was the first city to close, with those permitted to enter forced into a 40-day quarantine: the word “quarantine” derives from the Italian <em>quarantena</em>, or 40 days.</p> <p>By January 1349, mass graves proliferated outside of London to bury the increasing numbers of dead.</p> <p>Army and naval ships, as well as travellers around the globe, also carried cholera pandemics throughout the 19th century. In the first pandemic <a href="https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-cholera">in 1817</a>, British army and navy ships are believed to have spread cholera beyond India where the outbreaks originated.</p> <p>By the 1820s, cholera had spread throughout Asia, reaching Thailand, Indonesia, China and Japan through shipping. British troops spread it to the Persian Gulf, eventually moving through Turkey and Syria.</p> <p>Subsequent outbreaks from the 1820s through to the 1860s relied on trade and troops to spread the disease across continents.</p> <p><strong>At war with the Spanish Flu</strong></p> <p>The Spanish influenza of 1918-1919 was originally carried by soldiers on overcrowded troop ships during the first world war. The rate of transmission on these ships was rapid, and soldiers died in large numbers.</p> <p>One New Zealand rifleman <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1811.AD1811">wrote</a> in his diary in September 1918:</p> <p><em>More deaths and burials total now 42. A crying shame but it is only to be expected when human beings are herded together the way they have been on this boat.</em></p> <p>The flu was transmitted throughout Europe in France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain. Three-quarters of French troops and over half of British troops fell ill in 1918. Hundreds of thousands of US soldiers travelling on troop ships across the Atlantic and back provided the perfect conditions for transmission.</p> <p><strong>The fate of cruising</strong></p> <p>A new and lethal carrier in the 21st century has emerged in the pleasure industry of cruise ships. The <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/joemicallef/2020/01/20/state-of-the-cruise-industry-smooth-sailing-into-the-2020s/#364b397665fa">explosion</a> of cruise holidays in the past 20 years has led to a proliferation of luxury liners plying the seas.</p> <p>Like historical pandemics, the current crisis shares the characteristic of rapid spread through ships.</p> <p>The unknown is in what form cruise ships will continue to operate. Unlike the port-to-port trade and armed forces that carried viruses across continents centuries ago, the services cruise lines offer are non-essential.</p> <p>Whatever happens, the global spread of COVID-19 reminds us “death ships” are an enduring feature of the history of pandemics.</p> <p><em>Written by Joy Damousi. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/fleas-to-flu-to-coronavirus-how-death-ships-spread-disease-through-the-ages-137061">The Conversation.</a></em></p>

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Dinner to die for: how fish use their spines to fend off hungry seals

<p>What price are you willing to pay for food?</p> <p>For most of us, that’s a question about money. But what if the cost were actual pain, injury and death? For some seals and dolphins, this a real risk when hunting.</p> <p>We took a <a href="https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03473">close look</a> at a New Zealand (or long-nosed) fur seal that stranded at Cape Conran in southeastern Australia, and discovered it had numerous severe facial injuries. These wounds were all caused by fish spines, and they show the high price these animals are willing to pay in pursuit of a meal.</p> <p><strong>Victim or perpetrator?</strong></p> <p>When the unfortunate seal was first spotted dead on the beach, it was clear something was amiss: the animal was emaciated, and had a large fish spine stuck in its cheek.</p> <p>A team of scientists from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Museums Victoria and Monash University decided to investigate, and took a CT scan of the seal’s head. The results were striking: fish spines had penetrated not just both cheeks, but also the nose and jaw muscles.</p> <p>On closer examination, we also found ten stab wounds, likely from further fish spines that had been pulled out. The wounds were spread all over the face and throat, and at least some appear to have festered. They may have made feeding difficult, and ultimately may have caused the animal to starve.</p> <p>These wounds were likely not the result of unprovoked attacks. They were probably inflicted by prey that simply did not want to be eaten.</p> <p><strong>How to fight off a hungry seal … or at least teach it a lesson</strong></p> <p>Many fish species have evolved elaborate defence systems against predators, such as venomous spines that can inflict painful wounds.</p> <p>Our seal appears to have been done in by two species of cartilaginous fish. One was the elusive <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_ghostshark">Australian ghostshark</a> (also known as elephant fish), a distant relative of true sharks that has a large serrated spine on its back.</p> <p>The other was a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urolophidae">stingaree</a>: a type of small stingray with a venomous tail barb that can be whipped around like a scorpion’s tail. Its sting is normally aimed at would-be predators, but sometimes also catches the feet of unwary humans.</p> <p><strong>How to eat a spiky fish</strong></p> <p>Until recently, most of what we knew about the diet New Zealand fur seals was based on bony remains left in their poo. This technique largely overlooks cartilaginous fish, whose skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone. As a result, we didn’t realise fur seals target these creatures.</p> <p>New <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12686-016-0560-9">studies of the DNA of devoured prey</a> in the seals’ scats now suggest they commonly feed on ghostsharks. Stingarees and other rays are less common, but evidently still form part of their diet. So how do the seals handle such dangerous prey on a regular basis?</p> <p>It all comes down to table manners. Ghostsharks and rays are too large to be swallowed whole, and hence must be broken into smaller chunks first. Fur seals achieve this by violently shaking their prey at the water’s surface, largely because <a href="https://theconversation.com/sharp-claws-helped-ancient-seals-conquer-the-oceans-92828">their flippers are no longer capable of grasping and tearing</a>.</p> <p>Fur seals can eat small fish whole, but need to tear large prey into edible chunks.</p> <p>Shaking a fish in the right way (for example by gripping it at the soft belly) may allow seals to kill and consume it without getting impaled. Nevertheless, some risk remains, whether because of struggling prey, poor technique, or simply bad luck. The wounds on our seal’s cheeks suggest that it may accidentally have slapped itself with a ghostshark spine while trying to tear it apart.</p> <p><strong>Fish spines – a common problem?</strong></p> <p>One of the challenges we face as scientists is knowing how to interpret isolated observations. Are fish spines a common problem for fur seals, or was our individual just particularly unlucky? We don’t know.</p> <p>New techniques like analysing DNA from scats means that we are only just beginning to get a better idea of the full range of prey marine mammals target. Likewise, medical imaging techniques such as CT scanning are rarely applied to marine mammal strandings, and injuries like the ones in our seal may often go unnoticed.</p> <p>Nevertheless, fish spine injuries have been observed in other ocean predators, including dolphins, killer whales, and rays. One wedgefish described in <a href="https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.170674">another recent study</a> had as many as 62 spines embedded in its jaw! Now that we know what to look for, we may finally get a better idea of how common such injuries really are.</p> <p>For now, this extraordinary example vividly demonstrates the choices and dangers wild animals face as they try to make a living. For our seal, the seafood ultimately won, but we will never know if the fish that killed it got away, or if the wounds they left are evidence of the seal’s last meal.</p> <p><em>Written by David Hocking, Felix Georg Marx, Silke Cleuren and William Parker. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/dinner-to-die-for-how-fish-use-their-spines-to-fend-off-hungry-seals-133627">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Botany and the colonisation of Australia in 1770

<p>James Cook and his companions aboard the Endeavour landed at a harbour on Australia’s southeast coast in April of 1770. Cook named the place Botany Bay for “the great quantity of plants Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found in this place”.</p> <p>Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander were aboard the Endeavour as gentleman botanists, collecting specimens and applying names in Latin to plants Europeans had not previously seen. The place name hints at the importance of plants to Britain’s Empire, and to botany’s pivotal place in Europe’s Enlightenment and Australia’s early colonisation.</p> <p>Cook has always loomed large in Australia’s colonial history. White Australians have long commemorated and celebrated him as the symbolic link to the “civilisation” of Enlightenment and Empire. The two botanists have been less well remembered, yet Banks in particular was an influential figure in Australia’s early colonisation.</p> <p>When Banks and his friend Solander went ashore on April 29, 1770 to collect plants for naming and classification, the Englishman recollected they saw “nothing like people”. Banks knew that the land on which he and Solander sought plants was inhabited (and in fact, as we now know, had been so for at least 65,000 years). Yet the two botanists were engaged in an activity that implied the land was blank and unknown.</p> <p>They were both botanical adventurers. Solander was among the first and most favoured of the students of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist and colonial traveller who devised the method still used today for naming species. Both Solander and Banks were advocates for the Linnaean method of taxonomy: a systematic classification of newly named plants and animals.</p> <p>When they stepped ashore at “Botany Bay” in 1770, the pair saw themselves as pioneers in a double sense: as Linnaean botanists in a new land, its places and plants unnamed by any other; as if they were in a veritable <em>terra nullius</em>.</p> <p><strong>Botany in ‘nobody’s land’</strong></p> <p><em>Terra nullius</em>, meaning “nobody’s land”, refers to a legal doctrine derived from European traditions stretching back to the ancient Romans. The idea was that land could be declared “empty” and “unowned” if there were no signs of occupation such as cultivation of the soil, towns, cities, or sacred temples.</p> <p>As a legal doctrine it was not applied in Australia until the late 1880s, and there is dispute about its effects in law until its final elimination by the High Court in <em>Mabo v Queensland (No. II)</em> in 1992.</p> <p>Cook never used this formulation, nor did Banks or Solander. Yet each in their way acted as if it were true. That the land, its plants, and animals, and even its peoples, were theirs to name and classify according to their own standards of “scientific” knowledge.</p> <p>In the late eighteenth century, no form of scientific knowledge was more useful to empire than botany. It was the science <em>par excellence</em> of colonisation and empire. Botany promised a way to transform the “waste” of nature into economic productivity on a global scale.</p> <p><strong>Plant power</strong></p> <p>Wealth and power in Britain’s eighteenth century empire came from harnessing economically useful crops: tobacco, sugar, tea, coffee, rice, potatoes, flax. Hence Banks and Solander’s avid botanical activity was not merely a manifestation of Enlightenment “science”. It was an integral feature of Britain’s colonial and imperial ambitions.</p> <p><em>Banksia ericifolia</em> was one of the many species given a new name by Banks. Natural History Museum</p> <p>Throughout the Endeavour’s voyage, Banks, Solander, and their assistants collected more than 30,000 plant specimens, naming more than 1,400 species.</p> <p>By doing so, they were claiming new ground for European knowledge, just as Cook meticulously charted the coastlines of territories he claimed for His Majesty, King George III. Together they extended a new dispensation, inscribed in new names for places and for plants written over the ones that were already there.</p> <p>Long after the Endeavour returned to Britain, Banks testified before two House of Commons committees in 1779 and 1785 that “Botany Bay” would be an “advantageous” site for a new penal colony. Among his reasons for this conclusion were not only its botanical qualities – fertile soils, abundant trees and grasses – but its virtual emptiness.</p> <p><strong>Turning emptiness to empire</strong></p> <p>When Banks described in his own Endeavour journal the land Cook had named “New South Wales”, he recalled: “This immense tract of Land … is thinly inhabited even to admiration …”. It was the science of botany that connected emptiness and empire to the Enlightened pursuit of knowledge.</p> <p>One of Banks’s correspondents was the Scottish botanist and professor of natural history, John Walker. Botany, Walker wrote, was one of the “few Sciences” that “can promise any discovery or improvement”. Botany was the scientific means to master the global emporium of commodities on which empire grew.</p> <p>Botany was also the reason why it had not been necessary for Banks or Solander to affirm the land on which they trod was empty. For in a very real sense, their science presupposed it. The land, its plants and its people were theirs to name and thereby claim by “discovery”.</p> <p>When Walker reflected on his own botanical expeditions in the Scottish Highlands, he described them as akin to voyages of discovery to lands as “inanimate &amp; unfrequented as any in the Terra australis”.</p> <p>As we reflect on the 250-year commemoration of Cook’s landing in Australia, we ought also to consider his companions Banks and Solander, and their science of turning supposed emptiness to empire.</p> <p><em>Message from The Conversation: Captain James Cook arrived in the Pacific 250 years ago, triggering British colonisation of the region. We’re asking researchers to reflect on what happened and how it shapes us today. You can see other stories in the series <a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/cook250-78244">here</a> and an interactive <a href="https://cook250.netlify.app/">here</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Written by Bruce Buchan. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/botany-and-the-colonisation-of-australia-in-1770-128469">The Conversation.</a></em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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3 ways nature in the city can do you good – even in self-isolation

<p>Spending time at the beach or taking a <a href="https://theconversation.com/reducing-stress-at-work-is-a-walk-in-the-park-57634">walk in the park</a> can help us recover from the mental and physical impacts of life’s stresses. But physical distancing measures to contain COVID-19 have included closing <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/21/bondi-beach-closed-down-after-crowds-defy-ban-on-gatherings-of-more-than-500-people">beaches</a>, <a href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-australia-why-playgrounds-outdoor-gyms-had-to-close/news-story/a89cfc97d6352263c994b0d2e0b797bb">playgrounds</a> and <a href="https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/city-file/article/royal-botanic-gardens-close-due-coronavirus">parks</a>, adding to the challenges to our mental health. When we stay home to <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-has-australia-really-flattened-the-curve-of-coronavirus-until-we-keep-better-records-we-dont-know-136252">flatten the curve</a>, how can we help ourselves by taking advantage of the benefits associated with nature?</p> <p>The <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11252-014-0427-3">evidence for nature supporting human well-being</a> has grown in recent decades. We researched the links between nature and urban residents’ well-being and found there are benefits of nature that we can still enjoy now, even in lockdown. Our findings point to some of the ways we can improve our well-being by engaging with everyday nature close to home.</p> <p><strong>1. A room with a view</strong></p> <p>We <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-014-0427-3">reviewed the evidence</a>, collected <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-017-0702-1">survey data</a> on self-reported well-being and biodiversity indicators, and organised <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-019-00910-5">focus groups</a> in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, to better understand participants’ relationship with urban nature.</p> <p>If you’re stuck at home, the good news is there is plenty of research that suggests <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/00139160121973115">a view through a window</a> of vegetation or a body of water can provide a micro-break. A view of nature through a window has even <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.6143402">aided hospital patients’ recovery</a> from surgery. A short, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.04.003">40-second glance at a green roof</a> supports cognitive restoration better than a view of concrete.</p> <p>Our research found urban residents had greater self-reported well-being when they had nature nearby or visible from their homes. Participants valued a view of vegetated areas – green space – and bodies of water – blue space. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-019-00910-5">One participant said</a>:</p> <p><em>I could live in something that was pretty grim if it had a balcony that looked out [at nature].</em></p> <p>Participants in our <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-019-00910-5">focus groups</a> also highlighted the importance of seeing changes in the natural world, such as change in the weather or the seasons. Even if your view does not have a lot of vegetation or water, a view of the sky can allow engagement with nature’s dynamism.</p> <p>A view out a window at nature’s dynamism can improve our well-being. Lucy Taylor, Author provided</p> <p><strong>2. Gardening – indoors and out</strong></p> <p>If you’re lucky enough to have a yard or balcony, now may be a good time to do some gardening. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.007">Gardening can offer benefits</a> such as reductions in stress, anxiety and depression. As a physical activity, gardening can also improve physical fitness and support weight loss.</p> <p>Gardens can also provide <a href="https://theconversation.com/bandbs-for-birds-and-bees-transform-your-garden-or-balcony-into-a-wildlife-haven-129907">habitat for wildlife</a>, potentially introducing you to new plants, pollinating insects and birds. <a href="https://theconversation.com/biodiversity-and-our-brains-how-ecology-and-mental-health-go-together-in-our-cities-126760">Urban biodiversity benefits us</a> too.</p> <p>Our study found strong links between gardening and self-reported well-being. If you don’t have a yard, gardening on a balcony or tending to indoor plants also has benefits. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-017-0702-1">One participant explained</a>:</p> <p><em>Having a small vegetable garden and flowers in pots makes me feel happy and content … It is wonderful to see things grow in the city.</em></p> <p>Gardening in a yard, on a balcony, or even tending indoor plants does us good. Peter Lead, Author provided</p> <p><strong>3. Green exercise</strong></p> <p>We know exercise is good for physical fitness and <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-your-mental-health-deteriorating-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-heres-what-to-look-out-for-134827">mental health</a>. “Green exercise”, or exercise that takes place in and around nature, can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1021/es903183r">improve your mood and self-esteem</a>.</p> <p>Our study found strong links between how often urban residents exercised and their self-reported well-being. One participant described how important green exercise is to them:</p> <p><em>Being able to walk my dog down at the beach or go up into the hills is a great stress relief and keeps me fit and healthy and, best of all, it’s free.</em></p> <p>Another participant described <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-019-00910-5">exercising in a public park</a>:</p> <p><em>I feel significantly calmer, [my] breathing rate goes down. I love the feel of that moist air going into my lungs from all the trees and I really do feel different.</em></p> <p>To limit infection, residents of cities around the world are subject to a range of national and local constraints on when and how they leave the house to exercise. It is important to follow physical distancing guidelines, but it is also <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-04/coronavirus-queensland-exercise-safety/12115924">important to exercise</a> rather than be both isolated and sedentary.</p> <p><strong>Urban nature now and for the future</strong></p> <p>Nature can support our well-being now, when we all could use the help, but we need to protect it. <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1060902">Climate change talks have been postponed</a> because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is clear climate change has not stalled, even taking into account <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-changes-brought-on-by-coronavirus-could-help-tackle-climate-change-133509">the effect of lockdown on emissions</a>.</p> <p>There are lasting ways to <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-must-fight-climate-change-like-its-world-war-iii-here-are-4-potent-weapons-to-deploy-131052">reduce our emissions</a> and create <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-have-the-blueprint-for-liveable-low-carbon-cities-we-just-need-to-use-it-121615">low-carbon</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/after-another-hot-summer-here-are-6-ways-to-cool-our-cities-in-future-110817">cooler cities</a>. And the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-what-the-coronavirus-pandemic-can-teach-us-about-tackling-climate-change-134399">earlier we act, the better the outcomes</a> will be.</p> <p>If you have a yard, <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-solution-to-cut-extreme-heat-by-up-to-6-degrees-is-in-our-own-backyards-133082">planting trees</a> might be a good lockdown activity now and will ultimately <a href="https://theconversation.com/here-are-5-practical-ways-trees-can-help-us-survive-climate-change-129753">benefit your future</a>.</p> <p>Taking time to notice nature – via a glance outside, <a href="https://theconversation.com/running-out-of-things-to-do-in-isolation-get-back-in-the-garden-with-these-ideas-from-4-experts-134229">tending plants in pots or gardens</a>, or via green exercise – will improve your well-being. Appreciating nature and having access to it has never been so important.</p> <p><em>Written by Lucy Taylor, Dieter Hochuli and Erin Leckey. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/3-ways-nature-in-the-city-can-do-you-good-even-in-self-isolation-133150">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p> </p>

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Brexit: how the UK is preparing to secure its seas outside the EU

<p>Four dinghies carrying 53 migrants who tried to cross the English Channel from France were intercepted by British and French authorities <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-52207869">in early April</a>. The crossings are a reminder of the importance of maritime security and safety to the UK.</p> <p>Brexit has led to many uncertainties, including over the governance of the UK’s seas in the future. Withdrawal from EU regulations at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 2020 raises questions over how to face the difficult task of managing maritime risks which are currently managed alongside the EU.</p> <p>Uncertainty has also spurred new government efforts by shining a light on the need to secure UK waters, something we’ve written about in <a href="http://www.bristol.ac.uk/media-library/sites/policybristol/briefings-and-reports-pdfs/SafeSeas%20report_v5.pdf">a new report</a>.</p> <p>The UK faces <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322813/20140623-40221_national-maritime-strat-Cm_8829_accessible.pdf">rapidly evolving risks</a> to its shipping lanes, fishing grounds and marine infrastructure. These risks include <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/722074/fisheries-wp-consult-document.pdf">illegal fishing</a>, human trafficking, <a href="https://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/who-we-are/publications/173-national-strategic-assessment-of-serious-and-organised-crime-2018/file">organised crime such as smuggling</a>, <a href="https://rm.coe.int/the-united-kingdom-s-strategy-for-countering-terrorism-june-2018/16808b05f3">terrorism</a>, and the potential for protests <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/04/greenpeace-banned-from-protesting-on-shell-north-sea-oil-rigs">at sea</a>.</p> <p>Terrorist attacks could cause significant loss of life if targeted against ferries and cruise liners. Illegal fishing could affect <a href="https://www.seafish.org/media/Publications/SeafishGuidetoIUU07-2016.pdf">the livelihoods of fishers and marine biodiversity</a>, while other risks could have an impact on the wider economy in a context where <a href="https://www.ukchamberofshipping.com/latest/why-ports-are-crucial-britains-future/">95% of Britain’s trade</a> flows via the ocean.</p> <p>These risks tend to interlink with each other in ways that are increasingly well documented in other regions of the world. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016578361400143X">In Somalia</a>, for example, local fishers losing their stock as a result of illegal fishing have <a href="https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_res_2442.pdf">turned to piracy</a>. What unintended consequences of new risks might appear in UK waters is still not fully understood.</p> <p>Maritime security threats can also take place simultaneously. Without greater understanding of these risks, it’s difficult to know which should be prioritised.</p> <p><strong>Added complication of Brexit</strong></p> <p>These issues have been complicated by the <a href="https://blog.oup.com/2019/10/brexits-challenge-maritime-security/">UK’s withdrawal from the EU</a>. During the current transition period the UK manages its waters within a wider EU maritime governance framework and under EU regulations, as it did while it was an EU member. While the UK isn’t expected to cease all cooperation with the EU when this comes to an end, it will be required to depend more on national enforcement and regulations.</p> <p>This shift is most visible in the fisheries sector. As part of the EU, British fisheries were managed under the Common Fisheries Policy meaning both UK and EU fishing boats had access to quotas in UK waters. Such arrangements are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X17307376">likely to come to an end</a> with the UK choosing to regulate its own waters.</p> <p>UK ports are also a hotspot for change as they seem likely to withdraw from EU port legislation. This could lead to <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/308/pdfs/uksiem_20190308_en.pdf">new national regulatory</a> challenges such as a need to balance harmonisation with the EU with the pursual of British priorities like the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/freeports-consultation">creation of freeports</a>, aimed to give British trade a competitive edge.</p> <p>Taking sole responsibility is made difficult by other complicating factors. In the UK, different risks are managed by <a href="https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2018-02-23.HL5857.h">different government agencies</a>, with problems of jurisdictional overlap.</p> <p>Depending where it takes place, multiple agencies could be involved in illegal fishing, for example. This could include the Marine Management Organisation, Marine Scotland, and the Royal Navy’s Fishery Protection Squadron. Other agencies may contribute boats or intelligence, such as the National Maritime Information Centre, Border Force and the National Crime Agency.</p> <p>Yet, a common understanding of the threats and consistent communication between departments <a href="http://www.safeseas.net/a-moment-of-opportunity-britain-and-the-maritime-security-challenge/">is lacking in some areas</a>. This is more of a problem for devolved issues such as fisheries, which add even more authorities, departments and agencies to the picture. The relationships between these different organisations are likely to be further tested by the <a href="https://blog.oup.com/2019/10/brexits-challenge-maritime-security/">challenges posed by Brexit</a>.</p> <p><strong>Opportunity for reform</strong></p> <p>But Brexit also offers the UK an opportunity to improve its maritime security. The leak of <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/831199/20190802_Latest_Yellowhammer_Planning_assumptions_CDL.pdf">Operation Yellowhammer</a> in 2019 raised the public profile of maritime issues such as delayed freight in ports, the illegal entry of EU fishing boats into UK waters and potential clashes between fishing vessels. This came at a time where there were high profile landings of <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-46358700">illegal migrants along the south coast of the UK</a>, while Operation Yellowhammer warned of stretched maritime enforcement capabilities.</p> <p>The UK has started off well. In 2019, the UK government created the <a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2019-09-05/debates/CAD11F2C-9E6C-4092-9417-C34D68330187/MaritimeSecurity">Joint Maritime Security Centre</a> (JMSC) to coordinate all the different agencies involved and foster interaction between them. The JMSC conducted a joint UK maritime security exercise at the end of 2019, highlighting how coordination can improve enforcement. It is also preparing a new UK maritime security strategy.</p> <p>Interactions between the different government agencies involved in managing the risks to the UK seas need to become more frequent and overcome existing divides to create habits of cooperation and communication. Other groups such as fishing communities need to be included in deliberations. Transparency and information sharing in the process of drafting a new maritime security strategy can help to identify common goals, encourage involvement, and establish a shared basis for action.</p> <p>A review of resources would also be worthwhile to identify the means the UK has to secure its waters, what gaps exist, and how these means can best be shared.</p> <p><em>Written by Scott Edwards and Timothy Edmunds. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/brexit-how-the-uk-is-preparing-to-secure-its-seas-outside-the-eu-133548">The Conversation.</a> </em></p> <p> </p>

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Can I go fishing or bushwalking? Coronavirus rules in Western Australia

<p>According to Google Trends, some of the top coronavirus searches nationally in the past few days include “can I visit my parents coronavirus Australia?”, “can I go fishing during coronavirus?” and “can I go for a drive during coronavirus Australia?”</p> <p>“Can I visit my boyfriend during coronavirus Australia?” was also a common one.</p> <p>We asked legal experts in Western Australia – Natalie Skead and Michael Douglas from the University of Western Australia – to help shed some light on what the new rules might mean for residents of their state.</p> <p><strong>Can I visit my parents?</strong></p> <p>If you’re a child with parents who live apart, and you move between each of your parent’s homes, then you can keep doing that.</p> <p>Aside from that, you can’t organise a prohibited gathering, which includes more than two people in “a single undivided indoor space” like a room or even a patio, unless you maintain 4m² distancing.</p> <p>So, yes, you can visit your parents if you each stay sufficiently far from one another, but you can’t hug mum! Sunday family dinner is off the cards for now.</p> <p>There is an exception “for the purposes of providing care or assistance … to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance”. The terms “care” and “vulnerable person” are not defined. If one of your parents has a disability or a health condition, and you want to look after them, then visiting them is okay.</p> <p>It also depends on where your parents live. The parents of one of the authors (Michael) live down south, while he lives in Perth. It was his dad’s birthday on Wednesday. The intra-state travel restrictions meant he could not visit the elder Douglas. They all had a FaceTime birthday dinner instead.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Prohibition%20on%20Regional%20Travel%20Directions.pdf">Prohibition on Regional Travel Directions</a> say you cannot enter another “region” in WA unless certain exceptions apply. “Regions” are defined in the <a href="https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/prod/filestore.nsf/FileURL/mrdoc_42251.pdf/%24FILE/Planning%20and%20Development%20Act%202005%20-%20%5B04-h0-01%5D.pdf">Planning Act</a>.</p> <p>But there’s an exemption for “compassionate grounds” — like one of your parents is seriously ill, or an immediate family member has died. Visiting a parent on their birthday is not enough.</p> <p>If your parents live in certain parts of the Kimberley, or a remote Aboriginal community, visiting may require quarantine under <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/restrictions-access-the-kimberley-and-remote-aboriginal-communities">restrictions made by both the state and federal governments</a>, if it is permissible at all under the Prohibited Regional Travel Directions. The situation there <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-02/kimberley-coronavirus-spike-sees-shire-borders-closed/12115580">is not good</a> and by the time you read this, visiting may be prohibited.</p> <p>If your parents are interstate and you are in WA, then the answer is more complicated. Seek legal advice.</p> <p><strong>Can I go fishing or bushwalking?</strong></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Restriction%20of%20Activities%20Direction_1.pdf">Preventative Restriction of Activities Directions</a> do not specifically address fishing or bushwalking. But doing either with more than two people would be a <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/200331%20Prohibited%20Gatherings%20Direction.pdf">prohibited gathering</a>. That means you can only walk in the bush with the people who you are currently living with or one other person you don’t live with, but even then stay appropriately socially distanced.</p> <p>Fishing is a bit murkier. Western Australia appears to have taken some guidance from a since deleted Facebook post, by the Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, who attempted to <a href="https://www.racq.com.au/Living/Articles/Coronavirus-impacts-how-you-can-go-fishing">clarify the boating and fishing rules</a> as permitting boaters to fish for food to travel locally in their community.</p> <p>The latest advice from the WA government is the social distancing rules for gatherings of no more than two in public places apply on the land and the sea, meaning they apply to both boat- and land-based fishing.</p> <p>So, you can fish for food with one friend, or those you live with. If you’re going out on a boat, though, it will need to be a biggish one to accommodate the 1.5m/4m² distancing rule.</p> <p>It also depends on where you propose to fish or bushwalk. You can’t do either outside your “<a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Prohibition%20on%20Regional%20Travel%20Directions.pdf">region</a>”.</p> <p><strong>Can I go for a drive?</strong></p> <p>The Australian government’s <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/social-distancing-for-coronavirus-covid-19">Department of Health says</a> “all Australians are required to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go outside”.</p> <p>This means you can only go for a drive to buy essential food, to attend to health needs (visiting a doctor or a pharmacy), or on compassionate grounds (for example, to care for a vulnerable person). So you should not go for a leisurely drive just to get out the house.</p> <p>You can’t drive outside your <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Prohibition%20on%20Regional%20Travel%20Directions.pdf">region</a>.</p> <p><strong>Can I visit my boyfriend/girlfriend?</strong></p> <p>Under the <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/200331%20Prohibited%20Gatherings%20Direction.pdf">directions</a>, a gathering of two people indoors is not permitted “where there is not at least 4m² of space for each person at the gathering”.</p> <p>This means you can visit your girlfriend or boyfriend provided the room you’re in is big enough, but you cannot touch them!</p> <p>One might argue spending time with the girlfriend or boyfriend falls under the “care for vulnerable person” exception. That’s a weak argument.</p> <p>An important exception applies where the “gathering” is with a member of the same household, meaning two or more persons who usually reside at the same place, irrespective of whether those persons are related to each other.</p> <p>So if you immediately move in to your partner’s place, and then stay there, you may be okay to touch them, legally speaking. But you may be putting each other at unnecessary risk.</p> <p>If your partner lives in another “<a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Prohibition%20on%20Regional%20Travel%20Directions.pdf">region</a>”, then you cannot visit them (even to move in).</p> <p><strong>Can I go for a walk around my neighbourhood or sit on a park bench?</strong></p> <p>A walk around your neighbourhood — or on the beach — to get some fresh air or catch up with a friend, is not currently covered by state restrictions provided you limit it to a walk with only <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/200331%20Prohibited%20Gatherings%20Direction.pdf">one friend or those with whom you live</a>.</p> <p>That said, given your walk would flout the federal <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/social-distancing-for-coronavirus-covid-19">Department of Health</a> requirement we all “stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go outside”, we suggest you think twice before heading out.</p> <p>Sitting outdoors on a park bench or other public space with members of your household or one other person observing the social distancing rules, is not prohibited by WA’s <a href="https://www.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/200331%20Prohibited%20Gatherings%20Direction.pdf">restrictions against public gatherings</a>. But, again, the federal government cautions strongly against hanging out in public, so you probably shouldn’t.</p> <p><em>Written by Michael Lund and Wes Mountain. Republished with permission of <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-i-visit-my-boyfriend-or-my-parents-go-fishing-or-bushwalking-coronavirus-rules-in-western-australia-135544">The Conversation.</a> </em></p>

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Anatomy of a heatwave: how Antarctica recorded a 20.75°C day last month

<p>While the world rightfully focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, the planet is still warming. This summer’s Antarctic weather, as elsewhere in the world, was unprecedented in the observed record.</p> <p>Our research, published today in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/GCB.15083">Global Change Biology</a>, describes the recent heatwave in Antarctica. Beginning in late spring east of the Antarctic Peninsula, it circumnavigated the continent over the next four months. Some of our team spent the summer in Antarctica observing these temperatures and the effect on natural systems, witnessing the heatwave first-hand.</p> <p>Antarctica may be isolated from other continents by the Southern Ocean, but has worldwide impacts. It drives the <a href="https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/conveyor.html">global ocean conveyor belt</a>, a constant system of deep-ocean circulation which transfers oceanic heat around the planet, and its melting ice sheet adds to global sea level rise.</p> <p>Antarctica represents the simple, extreme end of conditions for life. It can be seen as a ‘canary in the mine’, demonstrating patterns of change we can expect to see elsewhere.</p> <p><strong>A heatwave in the coldest place on Earth</strong></p> <p>Most of Antarctica is ice-covered, but there are small ice-free oases, predominantly on the coast. Collectively 0.44% of the continent, these unique areas are <a href="http://www.antarctica.gov.au/news/2019/ice-free-areas-are-hot-property-in-antarctica">important biodiversity hotspots</a> for penguins and other seabirds, mosses, lichens, lakes, ponds and associated invertebrates.</p> <p>This summer, Casey Research Station, in the Windmill Islands oasis, experienced its first recorded heat wave. For three days, minimum temperatures exceeded zero and daily maximums were all above 7.5°C. On January 24, its highest <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_300017.shtml">maximum of 9.2°C</a> was recorded, almost 7°C above Casey’s 30-year mean for the month.</p> <p>The arrival of warm, moist air during this weather event brought rain to Davis Research Station in the normally frigid, ice-free desert of the Vestfold Hills. The warm conditions triggered extensive meltwater pools and surface streams on local glaciers. These, together with melting snowbanks, contributed to high-flowing rivers and flooding lakes.</p> <p>By February, most heat was concentrated in the Antarctic Peninsula at the northernmost part of the continent. A new Antarctic <a href="https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/new-record-antarctic-continent-reported/">maximum temperature of 18.4°C</a> was recorded on February 6 at Argentina’s Esperanza research station on the Peninsula - almost 1°C above the previous record. Three days later this was eclipsed when <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/%202020/feb/13/antarctic-temperature-rises-above-20c-firsttime-record/">20.75°C was reported</a> at Brazil’s Marambio station, on Seymour Island east of the Peninsula.</p> <p><strong>What caused the heatwave?</strong></p> <p>The pace of warming from global climate change has been generally slower in East Antarctica compared with West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. This is in part due to the <a href="https://theconversation.com/after-30-years-of-the-montreal-protocol-the-ozone-layer-is-gradually-healing-84051">ozone hole</a>, which has occurred in spring over Antarctica since the late 1970s.</p> <p>The hole has tended to strengthen jet stream winds over the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-ozone-hole-leaves-a-lasting-impression-on-southern-climate-34043">Southern Ocean</a> promoting a generally <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00787-x">more ‘positive’ state</a> of the Southern Annular Mode in summer. This means the Southern Ocean’s westerly wind belt has tended to stay close to Antarctica at that time of year creating a seasonal ‘shield’, reducing the transfer of warm air from the Earth’s temperate regions to Antarctica.</p> <p>But during the spring of 2019 a <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-air-above-antarctica-is-suddenly-getting-warmer-heres-what-it-means-for-australia-123080">strong warming of the stratosphere</a> over Antarctica significantly reduced the size of the ozone hole. This helped to support a more ‘negative’ state of the Southern Annular Mode and weakened the shield.</p> <p>Other factors in late 2019 may have also helped to warm Antarctica. The Indian Ocean Dipole was in a strong ‘positive’ state due to a <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-hot-and-dry-australian-summer-means-heatwaves-and-fire-risk-ahead-127990">late retreat of the Indian monsoon</a>. This meant that water in the western Indian Ocean was warmer than normal. Air rising from this and other warm ocean patches in the Pacific Ocean provided energy sources that altered the path of weather systems and helped to disturb and warm the stratosphere.</p> <p><strong>Is a warming Antarctica good or bad?</strong></p> <p>Localised flooding appeared to benefit some Vestfold Hills’ moss banks which were previously very <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0280-0">drought-stressed</a>. Prior to the flood event, most mosses were grey and moribund, but one month later many moss shoots were green.</p> <p>Given the generally cold conditions of Antarctica, the warmth may have benefited the flora (mosses, lichens and two vascular plants), and microbes and invertebrates, but only where liquid water formed. Areas in the Vestfold Hills away from the flooding became more drought-stressed over the summer.</p> <p>High temperatures may have caused heat stress in some organisms. Antarctic mosses and lichens are often dark in colour, allowing sunlight to be absorbed to create warm microclimates. This is a great strategy when temperatures are just above freezing, but heat stress can occur once 10°C is exceeded.</p> <p>On King George Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula, our measurements showed that in January 2019 moss surface temperatures only exceeded 14°C for 3% of the time, but in 2020 this increased fourfold (to 12% of the time).</p> <p>Based on our experience from previous anomalous hot Antarctic summers, we can expect many biological impacts, positive and negative, in coming years. The most recent event highlights the connectedness of our climate systems: from the surface to the stratosphere, and from the monsoon tropics to the southernmost continent.</p> <p>Under climate change, extreme events are predicted to increase in frequency and severity, and Antarctica is not immune.</p> <p>If you’ve been let go and then retrospectively un-sacked, you are also guaranteed to get at least $1,500 per fortnight, which in that case might be less than you were being paid, but will be more than the $1,115 you would have got on Newstart (which has been renamed JobSeeker Payment).</p> <p>If you remain employed, and are on more than $1,500 per fortnight, the employer will have to pay you your full regular wage. Employers won’t be able to cut it to $1,500 per fortnight.</p> <p>To get it, most employers will have to have suffered a 30% decline in their turnover relative to a comparable period a year ago. Big employers (turnover of $1 billion or more) will have to have suffered a 50% decline. Big banks won’t be eligible.</p> <p>Self-employed Australians will also be eligible where they have suffered or expect to suffer a 30% decline in turnover. Among these will be musicians and performers out of work because large gatherings have been cancelled.</p> <p><strong>Half the Australian workforce</strong></p> <p>The payment isn’t perfect. It will only be paid in respect of wages from March 30, and the money won’t be handed over until the start of May – the Tax Office systems can’t work any faster – but it will provide more support than almost anyone expected.</p> <p>Its scope is apparent when you consider the size of Australia’s workforce.</p> <p>Before the coronavirus hit in February, 13 million of Australia’s 25 million residents were in jobs. This payment will go to <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/josh-frydenberg-2018/media-releases/130-billion-jobkeeper-payment-keep-australians-job">six million</a> of them.</p> <p>Without putting too fine a point on it, for the next six months, the government will be the paymaster to almost <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0">half</a> the Australian workforce.</p> <p>Announcing the payment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said unprecedented times called for unprecedented action. He said the payment was more generous than New Zealand’s, broader than Britain’s, and more comprehensive than Canada’s, claims about which there is dispute.</p> <p>But for Australia, it is completely without precedent.</p> <p><em>Written by Dana M Bergstrom, Andrew Klekociuk, Diana Kind and Sharon Robinson. Reviewed by Emma Kucelj. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/anatomy-of-a-heatwave-how-antarctica-recorded-a-20-75-c-day-last-month-134550"><em>The Conversation.</em></a></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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“Hell” for Aussies aboard cruise ship stranded off South America

<p>Sue and Mort Leburn from the Gold Coast were two of the 129 other Australians on board the virus riddled Zaandam cruise ship which is currently isolated in waters off South America.</p> <p>Over 150 of their fellow travellers are showing flu-like symptoms but the ship was denied docking at several points.</p> <p>It wasn’t until Monday that they were taken off the plagued ship, which has seen four deaths from COVID-19, and transferred to its sister ship the MS Rotterdam.</p> <p>Mr Leburn is undergoing cancer treatment but aside from that the couple are in good health and not experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus.</p> <p>However, they feel unsupported and forgotten due to the lack of information being given by the Australian Government.</p> <p>“We’ve been in strict isolation since 22nd March. We’ve been outside once for half an hour [and] we only open our cabin door for meals three times a day,” they told<span> </span><em>9News</em>.</p> <p>“Other than that we don’t have any contact with other people apart from through social media or our friends that are on the boat that we can ring up.</p> <p>“We haven’t had a great deal of advice from the government, we’ve looked on the smart traveler website and contacted our state and federal MPs who sent us replies but they have been fairly generic,” said Ms Elburn.</p> <p>Their son Colin waved them goodbye a month ago from Queensland, and doesn't know when he'll get to see his parents again.</p> <p>He says they had already encountered difficulties as they tried to come from Chile.</p> <p>“They were supposed to dock somewhere in Chile. But the Chilean Government denied them after they had gone out of their way to get there,” he said.</p> <p>“Then they were told midnight, then midnight came and [they were told] no you can’t dock.”</p> <p>The current plan for those aboard the Rotterdam is to disembark in the United States.</p> <p>But Colin is anxious about the roadblocks his parents may encounter in their attempt to return home.</p> <p>"They keep getting hand-balled around from person to person and when you're on board a boat with extremely slow internet and limited access that's the other thing... you can't just pick up the phone and call people," he said.</p> <p>"I think what it comes down to is communication, and Mum and Dad just want to communicate with our Government to find out what's happening and are they going to be able to come home.</p> <p>"We're really lucky they've been given safe passage through the Panama canal so that was the next thing I was really worried about for Mum and Dad that they were going to get denied access.</p> <p>"Now we don't know what's going to happen once they get to America."It is understood passengers who were showing signs of COVID-19 remain on the Zaandam cruise ship which Colin described as a "floating coffin".</p> <p>"I feel for the poor people that are left aboard the Zaandam because there on a floating coffin basically and the Government is doing nothing to help them," Colin Elburn said.</p>

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