Environment + Energy – Analysis and Comment

Clouds of sulphur dioxide being emitted from the gigantic waste rock pile at McArthur River Mine 2014. David Morris EDONT

Indigenous communities are losing out in the development of northern Australia

As the Australian Government pushes ahead with its Northern Development agenda “making it easier to use natural assets”, it’s important to ask how this may affect the Indigenous peoples in whose territories development will occur.
Gamba Grass is altering fire regimes in the Top End, threatening human life and property, natural assets including Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, and compromising savanna burning programs. Samantha Setterfield

Setting priorities for environmental research is daunting when the questions are so huge

One of the Australian government's new research priorities is "environmental change". But can be hard to know how to tackle such huge and interlinked issues as climate change and species extinctions.
The lawsuit accuses the US government of knowing about the harmful effects of greenhouse emissions for 50 years, but failing to stop them rising. EPA/Justin Lane/AAP

Teens sue Obama over climate, asking why future generations' rights are not respected

The US government is being sued by teenagers who say it hasn't done enough to protect future generations from climate change. The case raises the crucial question of how we weigh up society's future rights.
Carbon capture and storage would help the coal industry survive, but it remains elusive. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Decades on, the promise of ‘clean coal’ remains elusive

For more than a decade the coal industry's favoured response to climate change was carbon capture and storage, or CCS. CCS is still the main defence, but the absence of functioning projects is making it ever more threadbare.
Scaling back our collective overuse of electricity would create a huge resource that can be tapped for future power needs. Weerayut Ranmal/Shutterstock.com

Cutting back on wasted electricity is the cleanest power source of all – as our household shows

A few years ago, I couldn’t read an energy bill beyond the charge levied. I couldn’t tell you how energy was measured, or ultimately how its use related to making my life better or worse, let alone how…
It will be many years before life returns to normal in the Langtang valley, one of the regions worst-affected by the earthquakes in Nepal. Scott Mattoon/flickr

Speaking with: Hayley Saul and Emma Waterton on the Nepal earthquake and the everyday Nepalese hero

Hayley Saul and Emma Waterton were in the Langtang valley in Nepal when the massive earthquake hit. Dallas Rogers spoke to Hayley and Emma about their subsequent rescue and the everyday Nepalese hero.
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis wants to remove green groups' blanket eligibility to challenge environmental approvals in the courts. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Brandis' changes to environmental laws will defang the watchdogs

The government plans to change the law so green groups don't automatically qualify to mount legal challenges against environmental approvals. That would make it much harder for green watchdogs to act.
This doesn’t happen very often. But the Bureau of Meteorology is getting much better at predicting when it will. AAP Image/NEWZULU/BILL SHRAPNEL

Weather forecasting is about to get even better

Moaning about weather forecasts is almost an Australian national pastime. But weather predictions have improved a lot, and with a new satellite and supercomputer, they are about to get even more reliable.
Expect to see more ships on the horizon, as global shipping booms. But how well are we measuring and governing what happens at sea? Chris Phutully/Flickr

The challenge of managing Earth’s new economic frontier: our oceans

As the world's land-based economies struggle with around 2% GDP growth, the global marine economy – often talked about as "the blue economy" – is a bright light on the horizon.
Conventional wisdom says Barack Obama will hit political obstacles on the way to fulfilling his climate ambitions. But they might be easier to sidestep than you think, EPA/Michael Reynolds/AAP

Forget the hostile Congress – Obama can cut global climate deals on his own terms

Much has been made of the domestic political roadblocks between US President Barack Obama and climate action. But by using existing treaties he can get around the hostile Congress and help cut global emissions.
People in the Philippines have been warned to brace for wet and wild weather, as this year’s El Nino shapes up to be the strongest since 1998. EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO/AAP

2015-16 is shaping up to deliver a rollercoaster from strong El Niño to La Niña

The seesaw between El Niño and La Niña is set to get stronger with global warming. Signs are that this year and next will deliver a big swing from one to the other, prompting fires and floods across the world.