Thursday, June 16, 2016

Australian rodent the first mammal driven to extinction by climate change, researchers say

This is just speculation from beginning to end.  If people used to shoot them for sport, how do we know that someone did not do that recently?  It's an isolated area with no record of comings and goings

And if inundations were the cause, how do we know that global warming caused them?  Sea levels have been rising steadily ever since the Little Ice Age. 

And if the factor was more extreme weather events in the area concerned there is no way global warming can be responsible because extreme weather events have in fact be declining on average world wide.  And even the IPCC declined to make a link between warming and extreme weather

And there have been many instances of species being declared extinct only for specimens suddenly to pop up again.  This is just opportunistic propaganda

CLIMATE change is believed to have caused the extinction of a rodent found on a small island in the Great Barrier Reef.

According to Queensland researchers, the species is the first mammal declared extinct due to the worrying global phenomenon.

Extensive searches for the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rat-like animal, have failed to find a single specimen from its only known habitat on a small coral cay, just 340m long and 150m wide in the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef and the edge of the Torres Strait Islands.

In a newly published report, scientists at the University of Queensland detailed how a comprehensive survey in 2014 failed to find any trace of the rodent.

Researchers said the key factor behind the extinction was “almost certainly” ocean inundation of the low-lying cay, likely on several occasions, over the last decade which resulted in dramatic habitat loss.

“Because a limited survey in March 2014 failed to detect the species, Bramble Cay was revisited from August to September 2014, with the explicit aims of establishing whether the Bramble Cay melomys still persisted on the island and to enact emergency measures to conserve any remaining individuals,” researcher Luke Leung said.

Dr Leung is from the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and said the team went to great lengths in hopes of recovering signs of the species.

“A thorough survey effort involving 900 small animal trap-nights, 60 camera trap-nights and two hours of active daytime searches produced no records of the species, confirming that the only known population of this rodent is now extinct,” he said.
This species of Melomys is related to one that scientists say has gone extinct in the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Auscape/UIG via Getty Images

This species of Melomys is related to one that scientists say has gone extinct in the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Auscape/UIG via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Bramble Cay is the only known location of the rodent and the island sits just three metres above sea level.

Available data on sea-level rise and weather events in the Torres Strait region “point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys”, added the study.

Anthony D. Barnosky, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who is a leading expert on climate change’s effects on the natural world said the claim seems “right on target to me.”

“I think this is significant because it illustrates how the human-caused extinction process works in real time,” he told the New York Times.

The Bramble Cay melomy, considered the Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic (found nowhere else) mammal species, was first discovered on the cay in 1845 by Europeans who shot them for sport. They considered them large rats at the time.

But the last known sighting, by a professional fisherman, was in 2009.

The 2015 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species implicated climate change in the extinction of another mammal, the Little Swan Island hutia (Geocapromys thoracatus), a rodent previously found on a coral atoll in Honduras. But it found the main driver of its demise was an introduced cat, the report said.

Dr Leung said in the case of the Bramble Cay melomy, all signs pointed to the culpability of climate change.

“Available information about sea-level rise and the increased frequency and intensity of weather events producing extreme high water levels and damaging storm surges in the Torres Strait region over this period point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys,” he said.

The study added that the main hope for the species was that another population existed in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.

Environment group WWF-Australia said the fate of the species was a sad reminder of the nation’s extinction crisis.

“Australia officially has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world,” WWF spokesman Darren Grover said.

Unless governments commit significant funding towards protecting Australia’s threatened species, “we can expect to see more native critters go extinct on our watch”, he added.


Federal election 2016: Bill Shorten veers left on treaty, boats

Bill Shorten has sparked a political storm over sudden policy moves that appeal to the Labor left, as he breaks with bipartisanship on ­indigenous recognition and ­demands more transparency on border protection.

The Opposition Leader launched the new disputes with Malcolm Turnbull on two key policies, despite previously trying to close ranks with the Coalition on both issues, surprising his opponents by marking out new positions that could help Labor defend itself against the Greens.

The Prime Minister accused Mr Shorten of undermining the ­bipartisan goal of recognising indigenous Australians in the Constitution by airing his support for a treaty for Aborigines, a contentious idea that could wreck efforts to build community support for a successful referendum.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton then went on the offensive over Mr Shorten’s call for greater media access to offshore detention centres, warning that the Opposition Leader was trying to “play to the left” despite claiming to support stronger border protection measures. Observers said Mr Shorten was sending a “not-so-coded” message to progressive voters who might drift to the Greens on indigenous affairs and asylum-seeker policy, as Labor ­defends one flank while attacking the Coalition on the other.

Opening the new fights in the final weeks before the election, Mr Shorten told the ABC’s Q&A on Monday night that he backed a treaty. “Do I think that we need to move beyond just constitutional recognition to talking about what a post-constitutional recognition settlement with indigenous people looks like? Yes I do,” he said.

When asked if that settlement could look like a treaty, Mr Shorten said: “Yes.” He cautioned against any “gotcha” question and said there could be a discussion about a treaty.

Mr Shorten held his ground yesterday, saying he was “up for a conversation about a treaty” and accused the Prime Minister of starting a political fight over the matter.

The remarks appeal to Labor and Green supporters who have called for a treaty, supported by Bob Hawke in 1988 and now by leaders including Warren Mundine, who chairs the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

Both major leaders faced challenges in navigating indigenous ­issues when asked whether the white settlement of Australia could be called an “invasion” — a dispute that dates back decades.

“Well I think it can be fairly ­described as that,” Mr Turnbull said. “Obviously our first Australians, Aboriginal Australians, describe it as an invasion.”

Asked a similar question on Monday night, Mr Shorten said: “I wouldn’t exactly call it a welcome.”

Yesterday’s dispute over a treaty saw Mr Turnbull try to intensify pressure on Mr Shorten by suggesting the Opposition Leader needed to show more “discipline” in his remarks. “You’ve got to be very careful not to set hares running that undermine the real goal, which is to secure overwhelming consensus of Australians, an overwhelming majority for constitutional recognition of our First Australians,” Mr Turnbull said. “That should be our objective and it should be Mr Shorten’s objective and he should ask himself whether his remarks of last night advance that goal or perhaps put it at risk.”

Mr Mundine confirmed his support for a treaty but would not enter the political dispute over Mr Shorten’s move, arguing there was room for both debates.

Labor senator Pat Dodson, a leader of the reconciliation movement, countered the Prime Minister by saying a treaty could be discussed in parallel with indigenous recognition. “Mr Turnbull should lead on these matters, not follow,” he said. “Bipartisanship is critical to going forward on the pathway to reconciliation. These issues aren’t mutually exclusive. We need to talk about both.”

ANU politics professor John Wanna questioned the need for a treaty when it was difficult to agree on constitutional recognition. “The era of treaties is past; we’re now a mature democracy where indigenous people have the same rights as others but not the same life chances. That’s not going to be fixed by a treaty,” he said.

Professor Wanna said Mr Shorten’s moves on indigenous affairs and asylum seekers appeared to be shaped in part by internal dynamics. “These are all issues where he is sending not-so-coded signals to sections of the Labor Party and keeping them in the tent,” he said. “And it is also about defending Labor against the Greens.”

The storm over border protection policy came after the Opposition Leader told Q & A he wanted an end to secrecy surrounding offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Asked if that meant he would be willing to see journalists allowed into the detention centres, he said “yeah” but added a caveat. “When I say that, I do that on the basis that I don’t want to see the people smugglers back in business,” he said.

“The short answer is if I was PM it would have to be an amazing set of circumstances where we’re not prepared to tell you what was going on. I haven’t got all the security agencies in front of me but, as a general rule, this nation operates best if you treat people as smart and intelligent and tell them what’s going on.”

The government declared Mr Shorten was soft on border protection. Mr Dutton said: “What he’s trying to do is play to the left of his party to say that they will have a different policy after the election.”

Scott Morrison said it was up to Nauru and Papua New Guinea to decide. “He just doesn’t understand how it works,” the Treasurer told 2GB radio.  “For a start Nauru and Papua New Guinea are sovereign governments and they’re the ones who actually ultimately decide what happens in these issues.”

Publishers and the journalists’ union have warned against an increasing control of the media in its coverage of boat turnbacks and detention centres, particularly in the wake of revelations that the Australian Federal Police gathered metadata about a reporter at The Guardian who obtained leaked documents.

“The rights of journalists are trampled on,” warned Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance chief Paul Murphy in April.


Shocking police incompetence

A truck driver who spent $9000 and waited 10 months has beat a speeding fine in court after police made a series of errors in their report including the wrong location and wrong number plate.

Chris McCleod, 65, chose to dispute a $400 fine after it was alleged he was travelling 80km/h in a 60 kilometre zone in Albany, 420 km south east of Perth, during a double demerit period in March 2015, according to WA Today.

Mr McCleod reportedly spent $9000 in legal fees and won the case 10 months later after an Albany Court House judge ruled in his favour within 30 minutes of the case being heard.

Police documents on the fine had listed the the wrong speed camera, wrong direction the car was travelling in, the wrong location, the wrong weather conditions on the day and the wrong number plate, according to the news report.

Mr McCleod told 9 News said he was confident he wasn't speeding after a fellow truck driver had radioed ahead that he would encounter a speed camera on Chester Pass Road.

He was one of 200 people who were fined at the same location over the Labour Day long weekend, according to the report.

'I thought, well I'm going to have a go, and so it happened,' he told 9 News.

The court ordered police to pay Mr McCleod's legal fees and retract the fine.

Last year WA Police police reportedly issued 570,000 tickets to drivers, raising $95 million in revenue.


China accused of buying influence over Australian universities

The Chinese government is buying influence over Australian universities by donating libraries and funds for institutes as part of a broader push to strengthen its soft power in the country, two Australian journalists have argued.

There appears to be “a concerted campaign to promote Beijing’s strategic interests in Australia through deals covering all the key areas of society”, claims a new piece in the Australian Financial Review.

The debate in Australia echoes concerns in the US, where the Chinese government has been accused of seeking to exert control over the academy by funding Confucius Institutes on university campuses.

The institutes are normally limited to teaching courses on Chinese language and culture and organising events, but critics have argued that they exert a chilling effect on debate about China’s ruling Communist Party and could be used to observe Chinese students abroad. US universities including Penn State University have already closed their Confucius Institutes because of these fears.

In Australia, the Chinese government has donated a library to the University of Technology Sydney, while the Chinese Yuhu Group donated AUS$3.5 million (£1.8 million) to the University of Western Sydney to fund a new Chinese cultural institute and AUS$1.8 million to create the Australia China Relations Institute, the AFR article says.

The authors, Angus Grigg and Primrose Riordan, write that the Chinese government is also buying influence over other areas of Australian society.

“To date money linked to China’s Communist Party has flowed to both major political parties, universities, primary schools, the national broadcaster and this week to the country’s biggest media companies,” they write.

They quote Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, who said: “We have to assume that there is a larger strategy by the Communist Party to shift domestic public opinion in Australia on sensitive issues such as the US alliance and the South China Sea.

“The long-term goal is to make Australia less likely to oppose China in regional confrontations,” he added.

A spokeswoman for the University of Western Sydney directed Times Higher Education to a statement released last year about the establishment of the Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture, which says it will be “an important point of access to Chinese culture, providing resources, support and expertise for those wishing to study and research one of the world’s oldest and most enduring societies”.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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