It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying

 January 9 at 1:32 PM
 4:27
Sydney heat wave kills hundreds of flying foxes

Hundreds of flying foxes in the Greater Sydney area were found dead amid an extreme heat wave that struck Sydney on January 7.

It has been a weird few weeks of weather. In North America, Canadians and Floridians alike shivered through freezing temperatures, a bomb cyclone and a polar vortex. (It got so cold that iguanas froze and fell out of trees.)

Meanwhile, over in Australia, where it is summer now, it has been especially hot. Sweltering, really.

In Sydney, temperatures hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the hottest it has been since 1939. That oppressive heat, a side effect of climate change, has made life hard for the country’s humans and infrastructure. Heat waves result in 10 percent more calls for ambulances and 10 percent more deaths, local experts said. Police in Victoria, on Australia’s southeastern coast, warned drivers last week that a six-mile stretch of a freeway in the central part of the state had melted. A spokeswoman for VicRoads, which manages Victoria’s road systems, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that hot weather caused the asphalt to become “soft and sticky” and the road surface to bleed.

It has also been nearly unbearable for some animals. “Anytime we have any type of heat event, we know we’re going to have a lot of animals in need,” animal specialist Kristie Harris told the BBC. It was so hot that possums burned their paws on roofs and roads. Birds needed to be specially rehydrated. Koalas around the region were being sprayed down to keep them cool.

And hundreds of flying fox bats died because they didn’t have enough cover to protect themselves from the heat. Animal rescuers in Sydney described “heartbreaking” scenes of dozens of dead baby bats piled on the ground. As the adult bats sought shade near a creek, babies were left dangling from trees with no means to survive the heat, according to a charity organization in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown, home to colonies of flying foxes. Many were found scattered on the ground. Others died before they made it down.

“It was unbelievable. I saw a lot of dead bats on the ground and others were close to the ground and dying,” volunteer Cate Ryan told the Guardian. “I have never seen anything like it before.”

Flying foxes have adapted to Australia’s warm climate, but these fruit-eating bats are unable to regulate their body temperature when the outside temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The young ones are especially vulnerable, Ryan told the Camden-Narellan Advertiser.

“They have less heat tolerance,” she said. “Their brain just fries and they become incoherent.” Often, she said, they will simply get too hot and fall to the ground while the adults seek out precious shade.


A heat-stricken bat is rescued in Sydney. (Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown/AFP/Getty Images)

Wildlife volunteers and rescuers spent Sunday picking up bodies of about 200 flying foxes, most of which were babies, according to the charity Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown. The death toll was expected to rise to the thousands, as many were still dangling from trees and were unreachable to volunteers.

“Many pups were on their last breaths before getting much needed help . . . There were tears shed and hearts sunken,” the charity said Sunday in a lengthy Facebook post. “It’s devastating when a colony like our local one goes down like this due to heat, this colony needs more canopy cover and shaded areas to help with our ever rising hot summers because this episode will surely not be the last.”

Australia considers the gray-headed flying fox, one of four types, a vulnerable species — with about 400,000 left, down from more than 560,000 in 1989. The bats live in woods and swamps along Australia’s east coast and play an important role in pollination and seed transportation.

Experts link the plight of flying foxes to the globe’s steadily rising temperature. More than 30,000 flying foxes died across Australia during heat waves between 1994 and 2008, bat ecologist Micaela Jemison wrote in 2014.

Last year, more than 2,000 flying foxes were found dead in the Richmond Valley region of northern New South Wales on Australia’s east coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Temperatures topped 113 degrees Fahrenheit. About 100,000 bats across the state of Queensland died during a heat wave in 2014.

“This is of great concern to scientists not only due to the increased risk of these ‘die off’ events, but also for the long term impact it will have on the recovery of several of these already threatened species,” Jemison wrote.

Australia’s heat wave — and the United States’s bomb cyclone — come on the heels of the second-warmest global year on record since the 1800s.

A new report, pointing to signs of climate change such as the thawing of Arctic ice and intensifying wildfires, says the global average surface air temperature in 2017 exceeded 14.7 degrees Celsius (58.46 Fahrenheit), making last year a bit cooler than 2016, the warmest on record. But 2016 included the tail end of a strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific, and that bumped up temperatures that year, as well as in 2015, according to the report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a European agency.

These findings are echoed in Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s climate report for 2017, the country’s third-warmest year on record.

“Despite the lack of an El Nino — which is normally associated with our hottest years — 2017 was still characterized by very warm temperatures. Both day and nighttime temperatures were warmer than average . . . Seven of Australia’s ten warmest years have occurred since 2005 and Australia has experienced just one cooler than average year — 2011 — in the past decade,” according to a news release.

Australia Expresses Regret For Offending Indonesia’s Military

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Australia expresses regret for offending Indonesia’s military

Australian Army soldiers assist Indonesian Army personnel during the Junior Officer Combat Instructor Training course conducted by the Australian Army’s Combat Training Centre in Tully, Australia, October 10, 2014. Australian Defence Force/Handout via REUTERS
By Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook | SYDNEY

Australia expressed regret on Thursday and promised a thorough investigation of “insulting” teaching material found at a west Australian military base that led to Indonesia suspending defense ties between the often uneasy Asia-Pacific neighbors.

Indonesia confirmed on Wednesday it had suspended military cooperation with Australia in December, a decision that was initially said to have been taken independently by the military.

However, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Thursday he had given his permission for the suspension of ties and that his defense minister and military chief had been asked to investigate.

Such military ties cover a range of activities from counterterrorism cooperation to border protection.

Jakarta and Canberra have had a rocky military relationship in recent years, and Australia stopped joint training exercises with Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces after accusations of abuses by the unit in East Timor in 1999, as the territory prepared for independence.

Ties were resumed when cooperation on counterterrorism became imperative after the 2002 bombing of two nightclubs on the resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said on Thursday an investigation into the offensive materials that were found at Campbell Barracks in the west Australian city of Perth would be concluded “imminently”.

“We have indicated our regret that this occurred and that offence was taken. I think that’s appropriate when a significant counterpart raises their concerns with you,” Payne told reporters in Sydney.

Australia would present the findings of the report to Indonesia’s government and military, Payne said.

Payne refused to reveal the exact nature of the offending material, although Indonesia media have reported that a senior Indonesian military officer training in Australia took offence at a poster questioning Indonesian sovereignty over the western half of the island of Papua.

Media have also reported that the same officer also found documents that ridiculed the founding ideology of Indonesia’s National Armed Forces.

Papua, where there is a long-simmering separatist movement, is a politically sensitive issue in Indonesia.

“We of course … recognize Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that is our firm and stated position,” Payne said.

She said the offending material had been removed and that all training documents would be “culturally appropriate”.

Indonesia most recently suspended military ties with Australia in 2013 over revelations that Australian spies had tapped the mobile telephone of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesian and Australian officials stressed that the bilateral relationship had not stalled, unlike in 2013.

“I think our relations with Australia remain in a good condition. The problem has to be clarified first at the operational level so the situation will not heat up,” Widodo told reporters in Jakarta.

Australia needs Indonesia’s help to enforce its controversial immigration policy that includes turning back boats carrying would-be asylum seekers. Payne said there was “no indication” of any change”.

(Reporting by Colin Packham and Tom Westbrook; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe and Kanupriya Kapoor in JAKARTA; Editing by Paul Tait)

Chinese Citizens Living In Australia Are Learning Benefits Of Free Market System

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

HOME » BUSINESS » BIZ SPECIAL

China’s shopping army reboots outlook for Australian retailers

IN 2013, student Na Wang began shipping fish oil capsules to China from Sydney to help pay the rent. Now, she’s in business, part of a growing army of Chinese shopping agents sending Australian food and diet pills home to feed rampant demand.

Wang, 33, is one of up to 40,000 Chinese ‘Daigou’ in Australia, retail consultants say, using social media and mobile payment apps to buy goods to order for mainland China customers. While Daigou first made waves in the West shipping luxuries from Europe like Gucci handbags, the new Australia breed deals in ‘white gold’ — baby milk formula — and other consumer staples.

More affluent, health-conscious Chinese shoppers want safe Australian goods, a trend stoked by tainted China food supply scandals. This year, brands like formula maker A2 Milk have begun exploring ways to harness the growth of Daigou, rather than compete with them, targeting cross-border e-commerce that’s seen by consultancy ThinkChina at US$1 trillion this year.

“People in China just love Australian products,” said Wang, boxing up an order of Maca Plus, a powder said to boost libido, and detox treatment Fatblaster Coconut. “They like the quality,” said Wang, an economics graduate from Shandong province still studying English as she looks for a job. “Nothing is expensive for them.”

It’s not all plain sailing for Daigou, back home or in Australia. In April, Beijing tightened rules on cross-border online shopping, though in Australia shoppers like Wang say orders haven’t been hit.

Meanwhile, at the height of a 2015 boom in demand for milk formula from China, triggered by a food safety scandal, Daigou attracted criticism in some Australian media for vacuuming up supply and leaving domestic shoppers empty-handed.

But the scale of the new trade has alerted retail brands to potential new sales via Daigou tie-ups that might otherwise be beyond the reach of mid-tier consumer goods makers.

“Everyone’s working on it (Daigou tie-ups) now, including all the big brands,” said Benjamin Sun, director at ThinkChina. “If you think about global markets, what Australia can offer to Chinese online consumers is food, supplement and dairy, not so much fashion and luxury goods.”

Live video shopping

Daigou — meaning “on behalf of” in Chinese — establish a network of prospective customers on popular online messaging app WeChat, owned by internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Some, like Wang, even broadcast their shopping live via WeChat’s video service to show buyers the products are genuinely from stores in Australia, not counterfeit Chinese goods.

Wang and her Daigou competitors typically charge premiums of about 50 percent above the sticker price on Australian store shelves. But even allowing for shipping fees, that still means the buyer pays much less for the same product in a Chinese store — assuming it is available.

A bottle of 200 capsules of Blackmores Ltd’s Fish Oil is available in Chinese stores at three times the Australian retail price of A$26.50 (US$20.2). Blackmores says about 40 percent of sales came from China — both direct exports and via Daigou — but declined to comment on dealings with Daigou.

Waiting for shipments are buyers like Lu Jiwei, a thirty-something software worker from Dalian. Lu buys about once a month from three or four Daigou suppliers, stocking up on Australian dairy, wine and nutrition products.

“It’s a bit more expensive, but not too much more to buy throughDaigou versus buying Chinese products,” said Lu.

“Mainly it’s to do with food safety concerns. Food safety standards here are perhaps a bit lower, and then you’ve got the source of milk because in China it’s more likely that it will be affected by air pollution.”

‘Positive force’

The difficulty of doing business in China for smaller would-be exporters has led consultants specialising in Chinese markets to increasingly advise Australian companies to team up with Daigou.

Peter Nathan, chief executive of A2 Milk, a New Zealand infant formula maker that also produces in Australia, said the firm was looking at ways to work more closely with Daigou.

“We think Daigou are good for both the local economy…and they are very good for our business,” Nathan said. “We clearly believe they are a positive force and it’s fair to say that it is something we are assessing.”

While food makers are keen, some big retailers have sought to tap the Chinese market directly themselves.

Top grocer Woolworths set up an online store on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s vast Tmall electronic marketplace. But some Australia industry players, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the store has met with mixed results — largely thanks to Daigou offering the same goods for less.

Woolworths declined to comment on sales from its Tmall store, or on competition from Daigou.

But for agent shoppers like Wang, the Daigou business is in Australia to stay.

“I’ll continue to do this even after I find a job,” Wang said. “Lots of money, good profits.”

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