Environment + Energy – Articles, Analysis, Comment

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Living alongside humans gets noisier all the time. Katrina Burgers/Shutterstock.com

Your drive to the shops makes life pretty noisy for whales

From the oil that makes your petrol, to car parts, to the groceries and other things in your weekly shop, retail consumerism is driving a boom in the amount of noise in the world's oceans.
Researchers talk to Bruny Islanders who have signed up to an experimental new method of managing energy. Chris Crerar

Tesla’s ‘virtual power plant’ might be second-best to real people power

Our energy system puts consumers more or less at the mercy of business and regulators. What if the future of energy meant putting the power back in the hands of households?
Generally once a fortnight, someone at home will place the recycling bin out for a truck to drive past and empty your bin. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation

Curious Kids: Where do my recycled items go?

Magnets, air blowers, centrifuges, crushers: your recyclables go through a lot before they get turned into something else.
The future of Perth’s urban wetlands is in doubt. Orderinchaos/Wikimedia Commons

Is Perth really running out of water? Well, yes and no

Perth, unlike Cape Town, faces no prospect of its tapwater running out. But other problems lurk beneath the surface, as the city's drying climate puts increasing pressure on irrigation and wetlands.
A drone image of a breeding colony of Greater Crested Terns. Researchers used plastic bird decoys to replicate this species in an experiment that compared different ways of counting wildlife. Jarrod Hodgson

‘Epic Duck Challenge’ shows drones can outdo people at surveying wildlife

A few thousand fake ducks, a group of experienced wildlife spotters and a drone have proven the usefulness and accuracy of drones for wildlife monitoring.
There are concerns that the new draft poultry standards don’t truly have chickens’ welfare at heart. Ben Romalis/Shutterstock.com

Governments can’t be trusted to deliver welfare standards for chickens

The current review of standards for egg and poultry farming does little to assuage fears that the industry wields too much influence. Only an independent regulator can restore public confidence.
Only clouds that are tall with big water drops can make rain, but they also stop most of the light, which makes them look grey. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation

Curious Kids: why does rain only come from grey clouds?

To answer this question from Fiona, age 6, we need to know some things about clouds and light.
Despite billions spent on trying to save water in the Murray Darling Basin, results have been disappointing. John Williams

The Murray Darling Basin Plan is not delivering – there’s no more time to waste

A dozen leading researchers have issued an urgent call to action for the Murray-Darling Basin, arguing that the billions spent on water-efficient irrigation have done little for the rivers' health.
We know that lots of animals, maybe all animals, sleep. Cats, dogs, even worms and jellyfish sleep. But we still don’t know exactly why they started sleeping. Marcella Cheng/The Conversation

Curious Kids: Do animals sleep like people? Do snails sleep in their shells?

Pond snails use things like rocks or the side of their aquarium as their bed, attaching themselves while they sleep. This might not seem very relaxing but their shells do hang away from their body.