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SnippETS for 22 February 2018

This week we examine the impacts of climate change and how we are reacting to it, the increasingly common presence of renewable generation around us and how it is being received, and how as a species we interact with other creatures and the wider environment.

Whilst reducing carbon emissions is a priority for tackling global climate change, the immediate focus needs to be on how to build resilience into managing extreme weather events. Simply put, are our cities fit for purpose in being able to cope with the predicted extreme winds, floods and heatwaves? Probably not.

Unfortunately, some cities around the world are already impacted by a changing climate. For example, Cape Town has experienced the worst regional drought in 100 years. If nothing changes by the 11th May, Cape Town will be forced to cut off water to its municipal taps and near 4 million residents.

Even here in New Zealand, the risk of a changing climate has not gone unnoticed. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council are leading the way with their comprehensive Climate Change Resilience Programme, which weighs up the costs/benefits of taking action now to become more resilient vs. doing nothing. As it turns out, there is a strong business case for preparing ahead of time.

‘The aesthetics of wind energy’. This article from the US explores how initial reactions to mainly on-shore wind farms and associated turbines can often start off negative, but soften over time as senses adjust to what are often subliminal messages and a growing recognition of their true value.

Whilst off-shore, as opposed to on-shore, wind farms can largely pass unseen (even if they can be over 200 meters tall), there may be even more benefits to them than previously anticipated. For example, creating small, but complex eco-systems that can support colonies of marine life and species in areas where they were previously non-existent or at best, rare.

Another form of renewable generation is roof top PV solar power plants. In South Australia it is being proposed to use the roof tops of 50,000 residential homes to create a micro grid where residents receive discounts on their energy and the combined energy becomes a virtual power plant. And best of all, the fuel is free.

We finish with a couple of thought provoking conservation articles. The diversity of the world’s animal species is under threat, with a warning that humanity could soon be left increasingly isolated on a planet bereft of wildlife and inhabited only by ourselves plus domesticated animals and their parasites. This article addresses some of the issues of species extinction and identifies possible solutions.

Extinction of species on land is an issue, and so is extinction in the oceans. Fortunately, many fishing nations have agreed to create a 16 year no-fish-zone in the Arctic, so scientists can study the regions marine ecology in an effort to identify causes of extinction and hopefully, in time, minimise the decline of species.

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