Spider crab mystery and biodiesel mastery

The Sustainable Hour no. 465 | Podcast notes

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour on 28 June 2023 are Dr Elodie Camprasse from Spider Crab Watch and biodiesel producer Peter Chomley. We also play audio segments by climate scientist Johan Rockström and Juice Media.

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Dr Elodie Camprasse is a marine ecologist with a passion for scuba diving and science communication. She is a post-doctoral researcher at Deakin University who leads the implementation of Spider Crab Watch, a new citizen science program to gather information on understudied and iconic great spider crabs.

If you live on Australia’s southern coastline and you come across spider crabs (alone or in groups), you can help the research team at Deakin University by logging sightings on Spider Crab Watch. Historical data helps as well, so if you have images of past spider crab gatherings in your library and you know the date and site, then they’d love for you to log that information. You can also become a spider crab detective from the comfort of your own home and help classify images collected during spider crab season thanks to time-lapse cameras deployed in Port Phillip Bay on Zooniverse.

→ If you want to find out more about spider crabs and how the research team is using traditional and citizen science to solve spider crab mysteries, watch this video or read this article in The Age, or access this report.

You can also sign up to a newsletter to get the latest spider crab research news directly to your inbox.

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Peter Chomley is the director of a business called Just Biodiesel. He is also involved heavily with local environmental groups such as the Australian Conservation Foundation Geelong as well as the Queenscliff Climate Action Group.

Just Biodiesel has a modern processing operation located in northern Victoria. It is the largest biodiesel plant in Australia and can produce 60 million litres per year. Peter believes that the future looks positive for renewable fuels. With the drive to decarbonisation across the world, which is now supported in Australia by the Labor Government, they receive new enquiries every week about biochemicals and from the mining industry striving to decarbonise.

Just Biodiesel has had a challenging evolution. They purchased the site from the receiver five years ago, and have been progressing it toward a sustainable operation, particularly in the last 12 months. Their feedstock includes tallow, used cooking oil and vegetable oils.

Feedstock prices are elevated because of subsidies for renewable fuels in the US and EU. Most of the Australian feedstock is exported because of these subsidies.

→ Find out more about Just Biodiesel on: www.justbiodiesel.com.au

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We start today with a clip of American actor Harrison Ford reminding us about the great significance of nature to all of us.

Mik Aidt notes that 75 per cent of Australian voters will strongly take into account the environmental and climate change policies of the various parties when considering how to vote at the next Federal Election, according to a new study, where 2,000 Australians were asked what they thought about nature. The research was conducted by research firm Mobium Group and strategy consultancy Possible, and their report is titled ‘In Nature We Trust’. Read it here.

Mik then rails about the obscene amount of public money that is now being handed out to a fracking fossil fuel project in the Northern Territory. This from a Labor government who were elected just over 12 months ago on a mandate of real action on climate.

He continues looking at the situation in France, where for the first time, a court has ordered the government to compensate families of children whose illness was caused by pollution. “French Government Ordered To Compensate Victims Of Air Pollution” was the resultant headline when Le Monde reported on the case on 20 June 2023. This is a significant court decision, because it shows exactly what needs to happen in all countries when our governments forget that their role is to keep us, the citizens, safe.

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Between the two interviews we hear Future Utopia featuring Avelino and Tomorrow’s Warriors play their song ‘Don’t Stop’ in a Youtube video produced by Greenpeace UK, Swedish climate scientist Johan Rockström, who explains in a Youtube video produced by United Nations University about the existential threat we face, and Juice Media‘s latest Honest Government Ad about the Anti Protest Laws in South Australia.

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Colin Mocket OAM‘s Global Outlook begins this week in Europe, where the continent is bracing for a plague of mosquitoes carrying tropical diseases due to climate change. The EU’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued the warning, saying that the numbers of locally caught cases of dengue fever had increased tenfold this year. The agency’s director, Andrea Amon said: “In recent years we have seen a geographical spread of invasive mosquito species to previously unaffected areas of the EU. If this continues, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and West Nile Fever.” Last year there were 71 cases of dengue in the EU – compared with 74 cases in the previous 11 years.

Now to Kathmandu in the Himalayas, where a team of international scientists has studied new data and warned of dangerous flooding and water shortages for the millions of people who live in the region. Unlike the European Alps and North America’s Rocky Mountains, the Himalaya region lacks a long historical record of field measurements that reveal whether glaciers are growing or shrinking. But in 2019, the United States declassified its spy satellite images of the region’s glaciers dating back to 1970, providing a new scientific baseline.

With this new understanding comes huge concern for people living in the Hindu Kush. Put starkly, their glaciers are melting at a much faster rate than they had estimated, putting the populations at severe risk of drought and/or flooding. The Hindu Kush Himalaya stretches 3500 kilometres across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. At 1.5°C degrees or 2°C degrees of warming above pre-industrial temperatures, glaciers across the entire region will lose 30 per cent to 50 per cent of their volume by 2100, the report said. That would be catastrophic for the world’s most populous nations.

Some governments are trying to prepare for changes. China is working to shore up its water supplies and Pakistan is installing early warning systems for what they call glacial lake outburst floods. They’re still suffering from the floods of 2022.

Still in the region, a report from Ballia says that a scorching heat wave in two of India’s most populous states has overwhelmed hospitals, filled their morgues to capacity and disrupted power, forcing hospital staff to use manual fans to cool patients. The death toll there has reached 170 people.

In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, 119 people have died from heat-related illnesses over the past week while neighbouring Bihar state reported 47 fatalities, according to local news reports and health officials .
‘‘So many people are dying from the heat – we are not getting a minute’s time to rest. On Sunday, I carried 26 bodies,’’ said Jitendra Kumar Yadav, a hearse driver in Deoria, 110 kilometres from Ballia.

While northern regions of India are known for sweltering heat during summer, temperatures have been consistently above normal, according to the Indian Meteorological Department, with highs reaching 43.5°C degrees.

Adding to the heat stress are consistent power outages across the region, leaving people with no running water, fans or air conditioners. Inside the Ballia district hospital, the chaotic scenes were reminiscent of the coronavirus pandemic, with families and doctors scrambling, because so many patients required urgent attention.

Climate experts say heat waves will continue and India needs to prepare better to deal with their consequences. A study by World Weather Attribution found a searing heat wave in April was made at least 30 times more likely by climate change.

Billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Squadron Energy remains confident that the Albanese government’s target of shifting the east-coast grid to 82 per cent renewables by 2030 is within reach, despite growing concerns that the transition is not happening fast enough to replace retiring coal generators. He said that Australia is experiencing one of the world’s fastest energy transitions as coal-fired power stations, which supply about two-thirds of the nation’s grid, increasingly bring forward their closure dates while renewable energy’s share of the mix rapidly rises.

Squadron Energy is Australia’s largest owner of renewable energy projects. “It’s important to note that we aren’t starting from zero, we aren’t starting today,” Squadron chief executive Jason Willoughby told the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne last week.

Willoughby said a wind farm typically took about five years to develop and predicted that many projects across Australia were approaching the ‘tail end’ of that five-year period. “I think we are going to see a relatively flat build-out of renewables, then a steep trajectory at the back of the decade,” he said.

Against this, modelling by consulting giant McKinsey & Co, presented at the same conference, suggested that Australia was on track to fall short of the government’s target of 82 per cent renewable penetration in the grid by 2030, and would likely only reach 65 to 70 per cent unless the rollout of new projects markedly accelerated. And on that mixed note, we end our Global Outlook for the week.

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How many more people have to die, and how much more destruction, before we begin to take to get real action on climate? As Colin points out clearly above, the situation is certainly grim. There’s nothing new in that statement. It’s been that way for a long time. Things on the climate front are worsening. We feel that we have a responsibility to continually point that out. This isn’t to scare our listeners into feeling hopeless and despondent. Rather it’s part of our truth telling. However along with that comes a responsibility to present guests each week, who inspire both hope, optimism and action. We believe that both Elodie and Peter have done that today. We’ll be back next week with more solution seekers who can inspire those not already involved in the climate revolution to find their role there. Be the difference.

“Funding for this kind of work is limited, not just for spider crabs but for studying marine biodiversity in general. Also the resources and the amount of time that we can spend in the environment as researchers is limited. The community is an amazing asset. They are already out there, they’re already seeing things and looking at various species, including spider crabs, so it’s amazing to have them onboard to tell us when they see spider crabs. We have a project on inaturalist, it’s called Spider Crab Watch. People are invited to log their sightings, if they have photos it’s even better. They don’t have to have photos – just pretty much tell us where and when they’ve had sightings. This information may seem pretty basic, but we just don’t have a good understanding of the progression of these gatherings through time.”
~ Dr Elodie Campresse, a post-doctoral researcher at Deakin University and leader of the implementation of  the citizens watch project Spider Crab Watch

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We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we
are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millennia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore the climate emergency are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How disrespectful and unfair is that?

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Spider Crab Watch – Help Us Solve the Mysteries of the Bay

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→ Council Magazine – 23 June 2023:
Bioenergy funding boost for VIC Councils
“Sustainability Victoria has announced it will be providing just over $8 million in funding through the Waste to Energy – Bioenergy Fund, supporting council and other community projects looking to make renewable energy from biowaste products.”

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→ The Guardian – 15 June 2023:
While the world becomes drier, profit and pollution are draining our resources. We have to change our approach
“Half of the global population – almost 4 billion people – live in areas with severe water scarcity for at least one month of the year, while half a billion people face severe water scarcity all year round.”

→ The Guardian – 23 June 2023:
Ecological tipping points could occur much sooner than expected, study finds
“Amazon rainforest and other ecosystems could collapse ‘very soon’, researchers warn.”

→ The New Daily – 23 June 2023:
State ‘disappears off map’ as torrential deluge floods one capital, aims for second

You couldn’t make up a headline much better than this even if you were a fiction writer writing a novel about the frightening future of climate breakdown. Sadly, this is not fiction. This is very much now and for real

→ Weatherzone – 23 June 2023:
After SA deluge, Tas disappears off weather map

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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.



List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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The Sustainable Hour is streamed live on the Internet and broadcasted on FM airwaves in the Geelong region every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm (Melbourne time).

» To listen to the program on your computer or phone, click here – or go to www.947thepulse.com where you then click on ‘Listen Live’ on the right.

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