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Environment + Energy — Analysis and Comment

Shipping gas overseas can be good for Australia - but bad for Australian gas bills. Ken Hodge

Pain and gain as gas export boom is set to drive up domestic bills

Queensland’s liquid natural gas boom, built on the back of vast reserves of coal seam gas, will bring huge gains to Australia. Exports of gas are set to quadruple by 2018, creating investment, jobs and…
Portable fusion by 2015? Still the stuff of science fiction, sadly. Ed g2s/Wikimedia Commons

Don’t get too excited, no one has cracked nuclear fusion yet

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s announcement this week that it could make small-scale nuclear fusion power a reality in the next decade has understandably generated excitement in the media. Physicists…
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore gives car-sharing a try. By 2016, one in ten of the city’s households will have joined a car-share scheme. AAP Image/Paul Miller

1,000 cars and no garage – why car-sharing works

Owning a car can be a hassle, especially if you live somewhere where driving is an occasional, rather than daily, necessity. This might help to explain why car-sharing schemes are going from strength to…
Could carbon capture and storage be the way to clean up coal power stations, such as this one in Australia’s Latrobe Valley? Monash University/Flickr

Carbon capture and storage — reality or still a dream?

To have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change we’ll have to reduce the carbon emissions from our energy sectors — currently the largest human source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. And…
A new study shows plants may absorb more carbon than we thought. Jason Samfield/Flickr

Plants absorb more CO2 than we thought, but …

Through burning fossil fuels, humans are rapidly driving up levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which in turn is raising global temperatures. But not all the CO2 released from burning coal, oil…
Indigenous rangers at the Fish River Station in the Northern Territory. Indigenous Land Corporation

Why Australia’s outback is globally important

There are places in Australia that are awe-inspiring, spectacular, mysterious; they touch our spirit and help define our nation. Kakadu is one, Uluru another, the magnificent red sandy deserts, the Kimberley…
Australia’s Commonwealth marine parks were designed to protect marine life, including important foraging areas for sea birds.

Marine park review looks set to repeat past mistakes

In June 2012 the Labor government announced the “world’s largest” system of marine parks, adding 2.3 million square kilometres and taking the overall size of Australia’s Commonwealth marine reserves to…
ANU’s divestment decision is only worth A$16 million - but the outcry suggests it will be more influential than the numbers suggest. AAP Image

Outrage at ANU divestment shows the power of its idea

Is the Australian National University’s decision to sell its shares in some resource companies merely tokenistic? Far from it. The outrage from the affected companies shows how much influence universities…
A king tide in New Zealand, part of a project documenting what future sea level rise might look like. Witness King Tides/Flickr

15 years from now, our impact on regional sea level will be clear

Human activity is driving sea levels higher. Australia’s seas are likely to rise by around 70 centimetres by 2100 if nothing is done to combat climate change. But 2100 can seem a long way off. At the moment…
Having two children could leave more carbon emissions than you can save by changing lightbulbs. p.Gordon/Flickr

How family planning could be part of the answer to climate change

You’ve changed your lightbulbs, you recycle, you’ve retrofitted your house, cycle when you can, and drive an electric car when you can’t. You’re doing your bit to reduce your carbon emissions and prevent…
Global warming sceptic Maurice Newman wants the Bureau of Meteorology reviewed. Good idea, although he might not like the result. AAP Image/Julian Smith

An independent inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology? Bring it on

Maurice Newman, chair of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, has called for an independent review of the Bureau of Meteorology’s climate data, following a stream of recent articles in The Australian…
Shark Bay is one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage Areas, home to dolphins, dugongs, and sharks. Matthew Fraser

Climate change threatens Western Australia’s iconic Shark Bay

In the summer of 2010-2011 Western Australia experienced an unprecedented heatwave — but not on land. Between December 2010 and April 2011, sea temperatures off the WA coast reached 3C above average, and…
A coal seam gas field in New South Wales. The independent review concludes health impacts can be regulated; experts say otherwise. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

Chief Scientist CSG report leaves health concerns unanswered

The long-awaited independent review of coal seam gas (CSG) in New South Wales, released last week by the NSW Chief Scientist, highlighted many risks and uncertainties around human health from exposure…
Western Australia has killed two great white sharks after a surfer was seriously injured last week. Sharkdiver.com/Wikimedia Commons

Response to the latest shark bite is fuelled by myth and retribution

When I used to tell people that I did my PhD on the politics of shark attacks, they would ask, “Is there a politics to shark attacks?” Nobody asks that any more. Now they just say, “Oh, like in Western…
In 2012 and 2013 parts of New Zealand suffered the worst drought in 70 years. Dave Young/Flickr

New Zealand is drying out, and here’s why

Over 2012 and 2013, parts of New Zealand experienced their worst drought in nearly 70 years. Drought is the costliest climate extreme in New Zealand; the 2012-2013 event depressed the country’s GDP by…
Feral cats are a triple threat to our wildlife through predation, competition and diseases such as toxoplasmosis. Eddie Van 3000/Wikimedia Commons

Toxoplasmosis: how feral cats kill wildlife without lifting a paw

Feral cats are a huge threat to our native wildlife, hunting and killing an estimated 75 million animals across Australia each and every night. But the killing spree doesn’t end there. There’s a parasite…
Under a Greens-PUP deal, the senate inquiry into the Queensland government will investigate coal seam gas approvals granted under the previous Queensland government. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

Greens-Palmer deal: a roadblock for environmental one-stop shop

The Greens have secured a deal with the Palmer United Party (PUP) and Labor that effectively kills the federal government’s plan to hand its environmental approval powers to the states under its “one-stop…
Rabbit numbers have been considerably reduced by the introduction of two viruses - Rabbit calicivirus and myxoma. CSIRO

Explainer: how ‘biocontrol’ fights invasive species

Australia’s “ferals” — invasive alien plants, pests and diseases — are the largest bioeconomic threats to Australian agriculture. They also harm our natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Some, such as mosquitoes…
At the recent UN Climate Summit governments, business and NGOs vowed to stop deforestation by 2030. Rainforest Action Network/Flickr

Stopping global deforestation will take more than more words

At the recent UN Climate Summit in New York there was little in the way of new climate policy announcements, but 27 countries did sign a new forest agreement — the New York Declaration on Forests. Some…
New research shows 2013 would not have been as hot without human-caused climate change. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Human hands are all over Australia’s hottest ever year

2013 was Australia’s hottest year on record, but how much of that was due to human-caused climate change? Today scientists publish five research papers that reveal the extent of human influence on Australia’s…