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Analysis and Comment (470)

Yields are on the decline. Yields are on the decline. Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Climate change is causing havoc for global coffee yields

The global food system contributes to climate change through industrial farming practices, the increasing use of fertiliser to fight dropping yields and the transport of food around the world. But the…
The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands could avoid being swamped entirely, although it will still suffer profoundly from sea-level rise. The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands could avoid being swamped entirely, although it will still suffer profoundly from sea-level rise. Christopher Johnson/Wikimedia Commons

Dynamic atolls give hope that Pacific Islands can defy sea rise

It is widely predicted that low-lying coral reef islands will drown as a result of sea-level rise, leaving their populations as environmental refugees. But new evidence now suggests that these small islands…
While green business is commendable, canola-fuelled elevators will not save us from climate change. While green business is commendable, canola-fuelled elevators will not save us from climate change. monique/Flickr

Can business save us from climate change?

Without a functional international climate policy, and a set of Australian policies that look set to be repealed, it might seem that business offers the greatest hope for mitigating climate change. Business…
The future will be dimly lit without tackling the growing energy gap. The future will be dimly lit without tackling the growing energy gap. Ben Curtis/PA

The energy policy pendulum must cease its endless swinging

The Conservative Party apparently plans to introduce a moratorium on future onshore wind farms from 2020, hanging their hat on the growth of offshore wind instead, and following Germany’s lead by expanding…
Gas-fired industry to reduce emissions in the short-term. Gas-fired industry to reduce emissions in the short-term. Jorge Franganillo

IPCC changes its tune on gas as way to mitigate climate change

The International Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group 3 report is a welcome outline of how to stem the tide of climate change. It illustrates a significant change in strategy, from a complete switch…
For the first time the IPCC has addressed the ethical, as well as technical, issues of reducing greenhouse emissions. For the first time the IPCC has addressed the ethical, as well as technical, issues of reducing greenhouse emissions. EPA/How Hwee Young/AAP

IPCC: emissions cuts are about ethics as well as economics

The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that global greenhouse gas emissions have grown faster than ever over the last decade. Taking action to achieve the world’s goal…
New research shows how a climate of uncertainty pushes us towards worse outcomes. New research shows how a climate of uncertainty pushes us towards worse outcomes. Lukiyanova Natalia/frenta/Shutterstock

Uncertainty isn’t cause for climate complacency – quite the opposite

If we’re not certain that the problem’s there, then … we shouldn’t take actions which have a high severity the other way. This was the response from David Murray – then chairman of Australia’s Future Fund…
Growing a solution to the growing problem of urban warming. Growing a solution to the growing problem of urban warming. Alison Hancock/Shutterstock

Green or white? Planted or painted roofs can cool buildings

It’s getting hot in the city, and our overheated cities are only going to get hotter still as more people pile in and development and energy use intensifies. But planting away the problem could be a surprisingly…
No vote: despite activists' urgings, the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks were stymied by the threat of veto. No vote: despite activists' urgings, the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks were stymied by the threat of veto. EPA/HENNING BAGGER/AAP

Votes, not vetoes: a new way to cut a United Nations climate deal

Anyone who has watched in frustration as the United Nations repeatedly failed to secure a meaningful climate treaty could be forgiven for taking a rather glum view on this weekend’s report by the Intergovernmental…
Falling food supply sees lunch breaks replaced by lunch riots. Falling food supply sees lunch breaks replaced by lunch riots. Jon Hrusa/EPA

We must adapt quickly to climate change to keep feeding the world

The global growth in demand for food is outstripping supply and by the middle of the century there will be about a third more mouths on the planet to feed. The world’s middle class is expected to rise…
Turbulence and disruption ahead. Turbulence and disruption ahead. Takver

Fresh thinking needed if tech is to help fight climate change

The IPCC has re-iterated its concern that climate change is a serious threat to human safety and security in its latest series of reports. And while energy, transport, water, tourism and health are highlighted…
Politically, the carbon tax issue has been great for Tony Abbott, allowing him to position himself as a friend to business. Politically, the carbon tax issue has been great for Tony Abbott, allowing him to position himself as a friend to business. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Climate policy: could it be the boxing Prime Minister’s glass jaw?

Nine years ago, I spent long days inside Downing Street working with the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair on how to position his government on the global climate problem. Blair was keen to work out…
How much green will it cost to go green? How much green will it cost to go green? epsos.de

IPCC report shows Stern inflated climate change costs

How much does climate change cost? What will be the impact on our wallets? The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group II has concluded that global warming…
Coasts are at risk from rising seas, but that risk could be alleviated by coastal ecosystems such as mangroves. Coasts are at risk from rising seas, but that risk could be alleviated by coastal ecosystems such as mangroves. Sheep"R"Us/Flickr

How wetlands can help us adapt to rising seas

Instead of costly levees and seawalls, coastal ecosystems could offer an alternative way to protect Australia’s coastal communities from rising seas, saving money and storing carbon along the way. Sea…
If companies won’t see things differently, we need to. If companies won’t see things differently, we need to. frankspandl/Pixel

Trying to cash in on climate change won’t fool nature

We find ourselves in an era of what we might call creative self-destruction. We’re destroying ourselves – it’s as simple as that. Economic growth and exploiting nature’s resources have long gone hand-in-hand…
Flooding as a result of wetter winters is set to continue. Flooding as a result of wetter winters is set to continue. Steve Parsons/PA Archive

IPCC report: adapt to cope with climate change

Climate change is a serious threat to human safety and security according to the latest report from the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change. But also coming through loud and clear is that adaptation…
We know what’s in store – now it’s time to do something about it. We know what’s in store – now it’s time to do something about it. AAP

The IPCC has spelled out the risks – now what do we do?

Despite the mounting evidence, there are still some who would deny the veracity of human-caused climate change and its potential to disrupt and harm our communities. Most dissenters rely on non-expert…
Bleached and healthy corals on the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland’s Keppel Islands. Bleached and healthy corals on the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland’s Keppel Islands. AAP

IPCC: Australia and New Zealand face greater fire and flood risk, damage to coral reefs

Australia’s coral reefs and mountain-top ecosystems are set to suffer from climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest summary of the research. The threats to these…
By declaring climate change a ‘great moral challenge’, Kevin Rudd owned the issue. That set him up for a political fall when the Coalition and Greens blocked his path. By declaring climate change a ‘great moral challenge’, Kevin Rudd owned the issue. That set him up for a political fall when the Coalition and Greens blocked his path. EPA/Matthew Cavanaugh

Climate campaigns trip up on democracy at critical points

Climate change is a problem for democracy. The scientific modelling is compelling and the evidence alarming. The problems begin when the science crosses into the democratic sphere of politics and public…
Yields of crops such as maize are set to decline in response to 2C of global warming. Yields of crops such as maize are set to decline in response to 2C of global warming. AAP

IPCC expert wrap: costs of climate change mounting, time to adapt

Climate change is already having a major impact on the planet, with impacts forecast to worsen significantly, according to the latest summary of peer-reviewed climate science from the Intergovernmental…
It takes a lot of meetings to write a comprehensive summary of climate science. It takes a lot of meetings to write a comprehensive summary of climate science. IPCC

Explainer: how are IPCC reports written?

Every day there seems to be more confusing (and sometimes downright misleading) news about climate change. Depending on what you read and whom you listen to, climate change is getting worse, or not happening…
We’ll need a lot more than sandbags in years to come. We’ll need a lot more than sandbags in years to come. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

What to expect from the latest IPCC impacts report

Senior scientists and government officials are meeting in Japan to finalise a new report on the impacts of climate change. It will be the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in…
Rousing the Kraken: climate change could make life in the ocean much harder. Rousing the Kraken: climate change could make life in the ocean much harder. By Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy/Wikimedia Commons

IPCC preview: deep trouble brewing in our oceans

Scientists are meeting this week in Yokohama, Japan, to finalise and approve the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II – the part of the IPCC process that…
Fiery future: evidence is growing of a link between climate change and extreme events. Fiery future: evidence is growing of a link between climate change and extreme events. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Global meteorology report puts yet more heat on climate politics

The new World Meteorological Organization statement on the status of the global climate of 2013 highlights a fact that some still wilfully prefer to ignore – climate change is already making many extreme…
To fight climate change, the UK will invest in renewing nuclear energy. To fight climate change, the UK will invest in renewing nuclear energy. pandaposse/Flickr

In Conversation with Lord Krebs: UK fighting climate change with more nuclear energy

Recent floods in the UK have awoken the country to the possibly severe impacts of climate change. Like many other parts of the world, including Australia, the UK will see rising temperatures and increasing…

In Conversation with Lord Krebs: full transcript

Rod Keenan: What do you see as the challenges of adapting to climate change in the UK? Lord Krebs: In the UK we’ve done what we call the Climate Change Risk Assessment, which is a formal analysis of all…
Facts not enough: the climate message is still not getting through. Facts not enough: the climate message is still not getting through. Shutterstock

Facts won’t beat the climate deniers – using their tactics will

A colleague of mine recently received an invitation to a Climate Council event. The invitation featured this Tim Flannery quote: “An opinion is useless, what we need are more facts." My first thought was…
Many companies, even heavily polluting ones, may adapt to and go along with action on climate. But how can they be influenced to do so? Many companies, even heavily polluting ones, may adapt to and go along with action on climate. But how can they be influenced to do so? AAP/Supplied

Class and climate: how financial warfare affects the air

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, David Peetz and Georgina Murray look at divisions within capital over the future…
The Pasha Bulker ran aground near Newcastle in 2007 during an East Coast Low. The Pasha Bulker ran aground near Newcastle in 2007 during an East Coast Low. Wikimedia Commons

Surf’s down: climate change likely to bring fewer big waves

A warmer climate is likely to result in fewer large waves along Australia’s central east coast, according to Bureau of Meteorology research that predicts a decline in the frequency of storms known as East…
Melbourne beachgoers battle January’s heatwave. They may need to get used to it. Melbourne beachgoers battle January’s heatwave. They may need to get used to it. AAP Image/David Crosling

Australia’s climate: time to act on rising heatwaves and fires

The State of the Climate 2014 report, released today by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, confirms that Australia is heating up. It has warmed by 0.9C since 1910, with more in store thanks to the…
For millennia, humans have had the tools to change the atmosphere: when will we develop a sense of caution? For millennia, humans have had the tools to change the atmosphere: when will we develop a sense of caution? AK Rockefeller/Flickr

Human global domination began with fire, not factories or farms

The era in which humans have had the power to alter the conditions for all life on Earth is widely thought to have begun with the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago. This era has been dubbed the “Anthropocene…
Good weather for ducks. Good weather for ducks. Andrew Matthews/PA

Climate change and natural patterns combined to bring wettest winter ever

An estimated 5,800 homes and businesses have been flooded in England and Wales this winter, now officially the wettest ever. By comparison, the total was 55,300 properties after the 2007 summer floods…
Tony Abbott has pledged to help drought-stricken farmers while dismissing the link to climate change. Tony Abbott has pledged to help drought-stricken farmers while dismissing the link to climate change. AAP

‘It’s been hot before’: faulty logic skews the climate debate

Global warming is increasing the risk of heatwaves. This isn’t a hypothetical abstraction that our grandchildren may experience in the distant future. Heatwaves are currently getting hotter, they’re lasting…
One in five Queensland homes have gone solar, like this house in Brisbane’s Alexandra Hills. One in five Queensland homes have gone solar, like this house in Brisbane’s Alexandra Hills. Melanie Cook/Flickr

Killing renewables softly with endless reviews

You have to feel sorry for people working in renewable energy. Their industry has been reviewed to within an inch of its short life, and the goalposts have been shifted so many times that they don’t know…
Riding underwater on Darwin’s most popular bike path, on 1 February 2014. Riding underwater on Darwin’s most popular bike path, on 1 February 2014. Andrew Campbell

A wet warning from Australia’s Top End on rising sea levels

Rising sea levels are typically written about as a “threat to future generations” – something to worry about by 2050 or 2100, not now. But if you want to see why even relatively small increases in sea…
Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. Alcoa is to close its Point Henry smelter in Geelong. AAP

Australian aluminium outgunned by cheap, coal-free global rivals

Alcoa’s decision to close the Point Henry smelter, at a cost of almost 1000 jobs in Geelong and elsewhere, comes amid a perfect storm buffeting Australia’s aluminium industry. Point Henry will be the second…
Bathers on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach on 28 January this year, as temperatures hit 39°C. Bathers on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach on 28 January this year, as temperatures hit 39°C. AAP

Climate Council: heatwaves are getting hotter and more frequent

Heatwaves are one of the most important climate-related risks for Australians. Sometimes called the “silent killers”, they cause the greatest number of deaths of any natural disaster type in Australia…
More of this to come. More of this to come. Steve Parsons/PA Archive

Get used to flooding, climate change will bring more of it

Flooding continues to afflict many parts of southern Britain. Areas of the Somerset Levels have been submerged for weeks, large parts of the Thames Valley are under water and the River Severn is bursting…
Alastair Mackie’s Mosquito Coast. Alastair Mackie’s Mosquito Coast. Noodlefish

Why climate change is very bad for your health

It is beyond doubt that our emissions contribute to climate change. And climate change is making us sick. Sea–level rises, changes to the severity of monsoon seasons and rainfall, flooding, droughts and…
Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Cooling towers at Yallourn, one of Victoria’s major brown coal power generators. Flickr/ccdoh1

Is $15 a year really too much to pay for renewable energy?

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target looks likely to be weakened or even axed, with the Prime Minister saying the scheme needs to be reviewed because it is causing “pretty significant price pressure”. But…
Cod: in search of cold waters. Cod: in search of cold waters. August Linnman

Fish may end up in hot water as climate warms the ocean

The rate at which the world has warmed over the past 50 years and is likely to continue to do so in the future poses problems for life on land and in the ocean. Most species have a defined range of temperatures…
Smoking: bad for pretty much everything. Smoking: bad for pretty much everything. SlapAyoda

Establishing consensus is vital for climate action

What’s the best way to reduce the roughly half a million annual deaths from smoking in the US alone? Nearly half a million lives cut short, often with untold suffering, by a commercial product that has…
More than half of Australians say they recycle for mostly environmental reasons. More than half of Australians say they recycle for mostly environmental reasons. Shutterstock/spwidoff

Most Australians overestimate how ‘green’ they really are

Most Australians overestimate how much they are doing for the environment compared to others, and are more concerned about water shortages, pollution and household waste than climate change, a new CSIRO…
The truth is out there. The truth is out there. Flickr/J

The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?

Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation. But getting your refutation out in front of lots of eyeballs is a whole other matter. Here, I look at two contrasting…
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warns investors not to ignore climate risks. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim warns investors not to ignore climate risks. EPA/Chris Kleponis

Fossil fuel campaigners win support from unexpected places

If you haven’t heard about the growing campaign for fossil fuel divestment, and what it means for both your retirement funds and for the global economy, it’s time to pay attention - because now even the…
Kiribati: island in danger. Kiribati: island in danger. United Nations Photo

Science can’t settle what should be done about climate change

The sight of speakers known to dispute the scientific evidence supporting climate change being called to speak at a parliamentary select committee on the latest IPCC report last week has raised certain…
We pay for the product, but not the carbon cost. We pay for the product, but not the carbon cost. Kin Cheung/AP

Carbon as a commodity: a trade in pollution could help clean up dirty economies

Is it fair that China is blamed for the carbon dioxide emissions it generates to manufacture products destined for the West? Would the West do more to reduce greenhouse gases if it had to pay for the emissions…
Sea turtles and climate change are not a good mix. Sea turtles and climate change are not a good mix. SteFou

Sea turtles will feel the heat from climate change

Last year was Australia’s hottest on record and this year started with heatwaves. Animals feel the heat too – so how will they cope and adapt as the climate changes? Take, for example, sea turtles. These…
Brisbane’s annual City of Lights show, which is sponsored by an oil and gas company. Brisbane’s annual City of Lights show, which is sponsored by an oil and gas company. Flickr/Wei Lun Koh (some rights reserved)

When will Australians finally stop wasting our energy?

From flicking on a light to travelling around town, our lives are utterly dependent on energy. That’s why it’s so surprising that Australia has been so bad at thinking about our country’s future energy…
In February last year fires came to within 20 km of Hobart. In February last year fires came to within 20 km of Hobart. Flickr/AB Creative Edge Tasmania

Bushfires: what we can learn from Hobart’s near miss

With another week of hot weather in southeast Australia, we’re all on watch for the outbreak of bushfires. Fire warnings and bans are currently out for Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia, with a potentially…
Unlocking the code for global solutions. Unlocking the code for global solutions. ricricciardi

Genetics may be key to climate change solutions

As the effects of climate change rapidly alter communities, economies and natural systems, the need to advance new solutions to what may be the most pressing biological challenge of our time has never…
It’s about climate change, but it’s not ALL about climate change. It’s about climate change, but it’s not ALL about climate change. John Giles/PA

Scrapping EU renewable targets after 2020 makes no sense

The European Commission has presented a new climate and energy policy framework for 2030 that focuses heavily on emissions reductions. Currently the EU implements “20-20-20” targets, which require a 20…
Stormy weather hits New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Stormy weather hits New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Flickr.com/wiifm69 (Sean Hamlin)

An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science

A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable…
Is this a sunset, or sunrise, for fracking? Is this a sunset, or sunrise, for fracking? danielfoster437

Shale gas: make polluters pay for the social cost of fracking

While the prime minister has shown unequivocal support for exploiting Britain’s shale gas reserves, stating the country should “go all out for shale gas”, more cautious voices point to possible effects…
Tennis fans cool off at the Australian Open in Melbourne this week. Tennis fans cool off at the Australian Open in Melbourne this week. AAP Image/Joe Castro

How heat can make your body melt down from the inside out

Just as Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 identified a temperature at which paper self-combusts, the Australian Open has just shown the world that there is a temperature at which tennis players start…
Swings and roundabouts: sea level rises are hard to predict. Swings and roundabouts: sea level rises are hard to predict. Danny Lawson/PA

Saving coastlines from flooding is an uncertain science

Coastal and river flooding struck Britain again this week with huge waves hitting southern and western coasts and around 100 flood warnings still in place by Wednesday evening. Disturbing but, sadly, not…
Clearing snow for a helicopter rescue makes for a dramatic photo, but let’s not forget the science. Clearing snow for a helicopter rescue makes for a dramatic photo, but let’s not forget the science. EPA/Andrew Peacock/Footloosefotography/spritiofmawson.com

An icebreaker gets stuck in the ice, photos are used to mislead

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by now you might have seen dramatic images of passengers on stranded icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy being rescued by helicopter last Friday…
Australia saw extreme heat and bushfires in 2013. Australia saw extreme heat and bushfires in 2013. Flickr/Rossco ( Image Focus Australia )

Australia’s hottest year was no freak event: humans caused it

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that 2013 was the hottest year in Australia since records began in 1910. Unusual heat was a persistent feature throughout the year. For the continent as a whole…
One out, one in: better high speed rail services could dampen flight demand. One out, one in: better high speed rail services could dampen flight demand. Gareth Fuller/PA

With planning, high speed rail could reduce flight demand

The expansion of UK airports could mean breaching climate targets, Climate Change Committee head David Kennedy has said. Ahead of a full report next summer that would examine the airport expansion plans…
If the wells are dry, it doesn’t matter how many hands on the pumps. If the wells are dry, it doesn’t matter how many hands on the pumps. Kevin Frayer/AP

Water supply will struggle to meet demands of thirstier world

There are already many countries where the scarcity of water affects people’s lives. While water for drinking may be first to come to mind, as agriculture is the largest use of water worldwide water scarcity…
Why has biodiversity been forgotten in climate negotiations? Why has biodiversity been forgotten in climate negotiations? Flickr/Dom Dada

Global climate game abandons biodiversity

The latest climate talks in Warsaw may have achieved little in the way of action on climate change, but they were even worse for biodiversity. In fact, since early climate talks in the 1990s, biodiversity…
Eroded beaches in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, May 2013. Eroded beaches in Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast, May 2013. John Reid, Environment Studio, ANU School of Art

Scrapping sea level protection puts Australian homes at risk

As the science on the coastal impacts of climate change gets stronger, the protections for Australia’s coastal communities are getting weaker. If that continues, everyone will pay. Along the eastern seaboard…
Protesters decry the weak outcomes of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil last year. Protesters decry the weak outcomes of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil last year. Wikimedia Commons/Aliencow

Still time to change Earth’s long-term forecast

After a lifetime promoting sustainability – sadly, with limited success – last year I sat down to consider what will happen to my beloved world over the next 40 years. The main question I asked myself…
Firefighters battle a bushfire close to homes in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in October this year. Firefighters battle a bushfire close to homes in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in October this year. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Climate Council’s Code Red bushfire warning

Australians have always had to live with bushfires - but climate change is driving that fire danger even higher. And we’re not talking about a distant threat to future generations. According to real observations…
Old buildings are standing in the way of improving our cities. Old buildings are standing in the way of improving our cities. Flickr/Becky EnVérité

Towards truly resilient cities: stop being soft on old buildings

Making Australian cities truly resilient to extreme events is being held back by archaic planning. The majority of buildings don’t fall under new sustainability and resilience regulations, meaning private…
Scrapping climate programs may meet short-term budget goals but will cause long-term pain. Scrapping climate programs may meet short-term budget goals but will cause long-term pain. EPA/Horacio Villalobos

Securing Australia’s future: energy and climate change

SECURING AUSTRALIA’S FUTURE: As the Commission of Audit reviews government activity and spending, The Conversation’s experts take a closer look at key policy areas tied to this funding – what’s working…
Can environmental humanities help us understand the fame of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta? Can environmental humanities help us understand the fame of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta? Alejandro Sosa Briceño

Explainer: what are the environmental humanities?

Have you watched the movie Grease recently? From one perspective, it is a schlocky film about coming of age in the 1950s. From another, it’s a striking representation of post-war America’s romance with…
Maria Island’s protected waters have given us insight into how species respond to warmer temperatures. Maria Island’s protected waters have given us insight into how species respond to warmer temperatures. Paul Benjamin

Marine reserves help fish resist climate change invaders

Southeast Australia is an ocean warming “hotspot” – a region where temperature at the ocean’s surface is increasing more rapidly than elsewhere. That means this part of Australia is like an outdoor laboratory…
Dusty museum collections' evidence of the past hold clues to the future. Dusty museum collections' evidence of the past hold clues to the future. Heather Kharouba

A century of museum records reveal species' changing lives

Natural history museum records are most often associated with preserved specimens, kept with information about the place and time of collection. From these we can generate a record of a species' geographical…
Cooling oceans off the coast of Indonesia can create bushfire weather in Australia. Cooling oceans off the coast of Indonesia can create bushfire weather in Australia. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Indian Ocean linked to bushfires and drought in Australia

In a study released today in Nature Geoscience, we show that extreme weather events in Australia such as drought and bushfire are linked to temperature changes in the Indian Ocean. Much like El Niño in…
A plane struggles to keep its course in stormy weather at Amsterdam airport last month. A plane struggles to keep its course in stormy weather at Amsterdam airport last month. EPA/OLAF KRAAK

Flying blind: global climate talks are getting us nowhere

If global aviation was a country, its emissions would be ranked about seventh in the world, between Germany and South Korea on CO2 emissions alone. Yet despite flying being a growing global contributor…
Jaundiced view? Jaundiced view? Julien Behal/PA

Russia’s silence on climate change helps no one

Russia is the fourth largest producer of greenhouse gases, but has shown little initiative and remained quiet among the turmoil at the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) climate summit in Warsaw. The hottest…
Are we prepared to talk about migration as a solution to climate change? Are we prepared to talk about migration as a solution to climate change? AAP Image/Courtesy; SBS Dateline, Supplied by Hussein Khoder

Migration is a solution to climate change, not a threat to security

How to deal with the impact of climate change is front and centre at international climate talks in Warsaw, with a fund for “losses and damages” caused by climate change to developing nations on the table…
While they’re very pretty to look at, museum collections are also valuable to science. While they’re very pretty to look at, museum collections are also valuable to science. Curious Expeditions

Right at the museum: collections give clues on climate change

We know museums attract visitors who come to view and wonder at their vast array of displays, but they are also used by expert researchers – locally and abroad – who make use of the ever-growing collections…
Using tree measurements by Papua New Guinean villagers such as Daniel and Jackson, scientists can estimate that this tree stores about one tonne of carbon in its trunk and branches. Using tree measurements by Papua New Guinean villagers such as Daniel and Jackson, scientists can estimate that this tree stores about one tonne of carbon in its trunk and branches. Michelle Venter

How tree huggers can save forests with science

While hugging a tree sounds relaxing, it’s harder than you might think - especially when the tree is 20 storeys high and 3 metres wide, it’s hot as hell, and you’re swatting away swarms of sweat bugs…
Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt have deferred increasing Australia’s emissions targets until 2015. Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt have deferred increasing Australia’s emissions targets until 2015. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Is Australia shirking its international climate commitments?

This week Tony Abbott confirmed that Australia will not increase its emission reduction target from 5% below 2000 levels unless other countries make serious commitments. In a subsequent interview, environment…
Programme makers are wary of turning off viewers with climate change. Programme makers are wary of turning off viewers with climate change. Till Krech

We’ve woken up to climate change but we’re not tuning in

A report from the International Broadcasting Trust has argued that more investment should be made to get environmental issues covered on television. Environment on TV is based on interviews with people…
There is no better example of the debasement of Australian political discourse and process than that which has surrounded action on climate change. There is no better example of the debasement of Australian political discourse and process than that which has surrounded action on climate change. AAP/Alan Porritt

A values deficit, toxic politics, and the climate change debacle

We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, in which the major influences have been secularism, materialism, utilitarianism, urbanisation, remoteness from nature, institutional failure (especially in…
Lucy, born 3.2m years ago. Lucy, born 3.2m years ago. Pat Sullivan/AP

How a changing landscape and climate shaped early humans

It should not be a surprise that East Africa was a hotbed of evolution, because over the last five million years everything about the landscape has changed. The extraordinary forces of plate tectonics…
What is the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature rise? What is the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature rise? Werner Wittersheim

Explainer: what is climate sensitivity?

Humans are emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As these gases build up they trap extra heat and make the climate warmer. But how much warmer? Scientists have long understood that…
A lot of people have made a lot of promises about reducing emissions, but what do they actually mean? A lot of people have made a lot of promises about reducing emissions, but what do they actually mean? UN Climate Change

Making sense of chaotic emissions reduction pledges

The idiosyncratic nature of pledges by countries to stem their greenhouse gas emissions is an indicator of the chaos that characterises international climate change policy. The countries that have quantified…
Hudson Bay Lowlands are staying greener for longer as temperatures rise. Hudson Bay Lowlands are staying greener for longer as temperatures rise. K. Rühland

Global warming finally reaches the last Arctic region

Lakes of the Hudson Bay Lowlands, in northeast Canada, are showing evidence of abrupt change in one of the last Arctic regions of the world to have experienced global warming, according to Canadian research…
Young people are harbouring misconceptions about climate change. But what can be done about it? Young people are harbouring misconceptions about climate change. But what can be done about it? Thinking image www.shutterstock.com

What do young people really know about climate change?

The next generation will be the ones to feel the increasing effects of climate change. But how much do they really know about it? After all, it’s one thing to say: yes, I believe in climate change. But…
Environment minister Greg Hunt and prime minister Tiny Abbott are keen to repeal the carbon tax as soon as parliament sits - but it may prove harder than they thought. Environment minister Greg Hunt and prime minister Tiny Abbott are keen to repeal the carbon tax as soon as parliament sits - but it may prove harder than they thought. AAP/Alan Porritt

Carbon tax showdown: the rocky road ahead for Abbott

The Coalition will introduce its draft bill to repeal the Clean Energy Act into parliament next week. The bill would effectively remove the current carbon tax and its planned replacement, an emissions…
Bill Shorten is reportedly reconsidering the Labor Party’s position on the question of a carbon tax, the latest chapter in Labor’s long history with climate change policy. Bill Shorten is reportedly reconsidering the Labor Party’s position on the question of a carbon tax, the latest chapter in Labor’s long history with climate change policy. AAP/Alan Porritt

From Hawke to Shorten: the ALP’s vexed history with the carbon tax

As the new leader of the Labor opposition, Bill Shorten has a number of issues to deal with that have been left over from the previous three years of Labor government. Working out Labor’s climate change…
Partisanship aside, extreme weather events linked to climate change pose an enormous threat to the Western, legal-political system of government. Partisanship aside, extreme weather events linked to climate change pose an enormous threat to the Western, legal-political system of government. EPA/Steve Pope

The great governmental challenge of climate change

The recently released fifth report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stresses the connection between climate change and severe weather events around the world, including devastating…
This winter there was more sea ice than ever in Antarctica. This winter there was more sea ice than ever in Antarctica. Flickr/august allen

Why is Antarctic sea ice growing?

Recently NASA reported that this year’s maximum wintertime extent of Antarctic sea ice was the largest on record, even greater than the previous year’s record. This is understandably at odds with the public’s…
More of us are getting older, for longer, and policies need to reflect that. More of us are getting older, for longer, and policies need to reflect that. John Stillwell/PA

Ageing population more at risk from environmental threats

The global population is ageing. This is happening at a time when the rate and scale of human-induced environmental change is exceeding critical ecological limits, raising concerns over the consequences…
Big agriculture, big data, big weather. Big agriculture, big data, big weather. Chemophilia

Big data lets global corps bet on the threat of climate change

The recent news of Monsanto’s US$930m acquisition of data science company Climate Corporation, raises important questions about the economies developing in response to climate change. A new generation…
Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

What firefighters say about climate change

You do not find many climate change sceptics on the end of [fire] hoses anymore… They are dealing with increasing numbers of fires, increasing rainfall events, increasing storm events. – A senior Victorian…
Deep underground the coal is off - but the heat is still on. Deep underground the coal is off - but the heat is still on. Ashley Dace

Underground water heat will aid bid to hit renewable targets

Solar and wind power rightly receive a lot of attention as we struggle to ramp up renewable electricity and move away from fossil fuels. But in a damp, blustery island such as ours, generating heat is…
It really is time to talk about whether climate change is responsible for bushfires. It really is time to talk about whether climate change is responsible for bushfires. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Fire and climate change: don’t expect a smooth ride

With fires still burning across New South Wales, it’s time to have a look at the role climate change might have played. Are the conditions we’re seeing natural variation, or part of a long term trend…
We could prevent scenes like this. We could prevent scenes like this. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

We know what starts fires; are we brave enough to prevent them?

Yet again we are seeing tragedy unfold in NSW, where more than 90 fires are currently burning. Yet, as with many issues of profound importance, as a society we seem unable to make the links between conditions…
New Zealand’s ancient tuatara might need a helping hand to cope with climate change. New Zealand’s ancient tuatara might need a helping hand to cope with climate change. Flickr/Sheep"R"Us

Should we move species threatened by climate change?

Climate change is one of the greatest threats the world’s animals and plants are facing. In fact the world is facing an extinction crisis, which should concern all of us. The major problem with climate…
The path to climate change resilience is better land management. The path to climate change resilience is better land management. Flickr/jennifrog

The key to fighting climate change is in the land

Australia could lead the world in combating climate change. Wouldn’t you like to believe this was true? Actually though, Australia has a world-beating model to deal with climate change. But I’m not talking…
It’s too late for this ship, but practical strategies for tackling climate change are needed fast. It’s too late for this ship, but practical strategies for tackling climate change are needed fast. Staecker

Give us practical climate solutions, not more problems

Scientists have hammered home once again the message that climate change is very real and very important. Climate scientists have been saying this for decades, yet carbon emissions worldwide continue to…
Optimism is lovely, but individual action won’t solve climate change. Optimism is lovely, but individual action won’t solve climate change. \!/_PeacePlusOne/Flickr

Fixing climate change: the future isn’t what it used to be

This is the last part of a series following on from the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report and looking at emerging alternatives to the UN climate agreement…
A lack of debate in Australia about nuclear power may mean we’re not seriously considering it. A lack of debate in Australia about nuclear power may mean we’re not seriously considering it. Flickr: CaptPiper

Why don’t Australians see nuclear as a climate change solution?

In a paper recently published in Energy Policy, we (along with another colleague from Cardiff University in Wales) reported our survey of Australians' opinions about nuclear energy and global climate change…
This rare white lemuroid possum is just one of the species that will see dramatic effects of climate change. This rare white lemuroid possum is just one of the species that will see dramatic effects of climate change. Mike Trennery

As climate changes, animals move fast to escape the heat

Australia is already feeling the effects of climate change, with record-breaking temperatures not just over summer, but over the past 12 months as well. Research suggests that such events are many times…
Bright colourful coral like this may soon disappear. Bright colourful coral like this may soon disappear. USFWS Pacific

Global warming’s evil twin: ocean acidification

Greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the oceans in regions such as the Baltic by as much as 1.3°C. It is now thought that 90% of the heat added to the climate system by humans has been absorbed in the…
Getting an agreement on gas could set the tone for other industry emissions reduction agreements. Getting an agreement on gas could set the tone for other industry emissions reduction agreements. stefo/Flickr

Could sectoral agreements solve climate change?

This is part two of a three-part series that follows on from the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, looking at emerging alternatives to the UN climate agreement…
Smoke, like US$2 trillion, gets in your eyes. Smoke, like US$2 trillion, gets in your eyes. Ian Barbour

$2 trillion cost to de-carbonise the world is actually a bargain

We can avoid the worst effects of climate change, say a team of Imperial College energy engineers in a recent study, and it will only cost US$2 trillion a year, at most. This sounds an unfeasibly large…
Our climate system is collapsing, but international negotiations in Paris still hold out the best promise for change. Our climate system is collapsing, but international negotiations in Paris still hold out the best promise for change. 350.org/Flickr

Climate talks could succeed, if Australia toughens targets

Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri, said last week that on climate, “We have five minutes before midnight”. He argues that governments have historically avoided…
Not just a pretty planet – Jupiter may provide clues for detecting Earth-like planets. Not just a pretty planet – Jupiter may provide clues for detecting Earth-like planets. NASA

By Jove! Can climate change lead us to life on other planets?

Thanks to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, we’ve recently heard a great deal about how the Earth’s climate is changing. The IPCC’s cautious assessment of the…
Marlgu Billabong in Australia’s Kimberley region, which new research nominates as a smart place to invest in conservation. Marlgu Billabong in Australia’s Kimberley region, which new research nominates as a smart place to invest in conservation. www.shutterstock.com/Janelle Lugge

Adapt or die: where in the world we should start on cost-effective conservation

As the dust settles on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the science of climate change, the obvious question is: what do we do next? Our research, published in Nature…
The future of the globe used to look a lot brighter. The future of the globe used to look a lot brighter. ToastyKen

A brief history of climate science

Climate change is often seen as a recent phenomenon, but its roots are actually far older - the effects of human activity on the global climate have been discussed for more than 150 years. In the 1820s…
If a comet was heading for earth, would you just go about your life? If a comet was heading for earth, would you just go about your life? Mark Mathosian

A question of ethics: journalists and climate change

Breaking news: scientists have discovered a comet that will collide with Earth in 30 years. Its impact will be devastating, killing millions, flooding coastal cities and disrupting civilisation as we know…
Once majestic low-lying rainforests, Indonesia’s peatlands now emit around 1 billion tonnes of CO2 a year. Once majestic low-lying rainforests, Indonesia’s peatlands now emit around 1 billion tonnes of CO2 a year. H Dragon/flickr

Indonesia sets a carbon time-bomb

One of the world’s major terrestrial carbon pools is rapidly deteriorating as large parts of Indonesia’s peatlands are deforested and converted to oil palm and paper plantations. No longer a carbon sink…
No evidence is enough evidence for some people. No evidence is enough evidence for some people. Zak Hussein/PA

Cherry pick all the facts you like, but Earth is still warming

In the run-up to the publication of the Fifth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) there is the usual flurry of activity among those with an interest…
Framing with disaster may not be the best option. Framing with disaster may not be the best option. Lone Primate

Climate change is not all disaster and uncertainty

How does newspaper coverage affect how we view climate change? A new report has estimated that 82% of articles about climate change are framed in the context of “disaster” and “uncertainty”. The report’s…
With low solar activity, a double-dip La Nina and more particles in the air, it should be much colder than it is. With low solar activity, a double-dip La Nina and more particles in the air, it should be much colder than it is. Les Chatfield/Flickr

Is global warming in a hiatus?

On September 27 2013 the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be released. One part of this report will address the so-called “warming hiatus”. This is the…
Now that it is all said and done, what did we learn about Australian politics in the 2013 federal election campaign? Now that it is all said and done, what did we learn about Australian politics in the 2013 federal election campaign? AAP/Alan Porritt

Virtue and vexation: the policy vacuum in the 2013 election

I have been around for a long time and involved in some terrible campaigns, but the policy vacuum in 2013 was the worst I can recall. There was no serious debate on issues, whether simple or complex, and…
Global carbon emissions, by country - climate legislation helps. Global carbon emissions, by country - climate legislation helps. Distantbody

In praise of Britain’s Climate Change Act

Approved with overwhelming support from all political parties, the Climate Change Act came into force in 2008 and was hailed as a ground-breaking piece of legislation that would guide Britain’s transition…
Yesterday’s early start to the bushfire season threatened homes in Sydney’s suburbs. Yesterday’s early start to the bushfire season threatened homes in Sydney’s suburbs. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Fire and flood: how home insurance can help us adapt to climate change

Australia is a harsh and volatile environment, subject to extremes of fire and flood. We’ve just seen a particularly early start to the bushfire season, with over 60 fires burning and at least two homes…
The Coalition has campaigned fiercely on its opposition to a carbon price. The Coalition has campaigned fiercely on its opposition to a carbon price. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

What next for Australia’s climate policy?

Australia’s new government is likely to repeal the carbon price, by striking a deal with crossbenchers in the Senate after July 2014, or possibly going to a special election if it looks electorally attractive…
These blue-green algae - cyanobacteria - would be the only winners from a warming ocean. These blue-green algae - cyanobacteria - would be the only winners from a warming ocean. Joydeep

If warming oceans leave algae hungry, we’ll go hungry too

Global warming is having a significant impact on marine life, as many marine organisms are adapted to live only within the average temperature range of their habitats. This applies to larger fish and sea…
A vote for the future? A vote for the future? AAP/Lukas Coch

Election 2013 Essays: Australia for the long term

Election 2013 Essays: As the federal election campaign draws to a close, The Conversation asked eminent thinkers to reflect on the state of the nation and the challenges Australia – and whichever party…
Attributing heavy precipitation to climate change isn’t that easy. Attributing heavy precipitation to climate change isn’t that easy. LordKhan/Flickr

The blame for rain is mainly done in vain

As a climate scientist, it seems for every extreme event - be it the recent hottest 12 months on record for Australia or the floods and heavy rains of 2011 and 2012 - one question is inevitably asked…
We’re going to need more than sandbags to adapt to climate change. We’re going to need more than sandbags to adapt to climate change. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Who should fund Australia’s adaptation to climate change?

If we haven’t heard much about carbon policy this election, we’ve heard even less about the other side of the climate equation - adaptation. We’re already seeing an increase in extreme weather, and climate…
Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Recent reports reveal that the cost of environmental damage far outweighs the cost of business model restructuring. Image from www.shutterstock.com

Dollar signs of the times: how our politicians are costing the Earth

One of the most depressing and puzzling features of the current election campaign is the lack of emphasis on the costs that environmental risks pose to industry and business. Australian politicians appear…
The future of Earth’s living environment is a non-issue in the current Australian election. The future of Earth’s living environment is a non-issue in the current Australian election. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Existential risks to our planetary life-support systems

We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet. - Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the German Government It is not news that we are over stretching our planetary…
Don’t tell me to calm down - emotional expression is an inherent part of social discourse. Don’t tell me to calm down - emotional expression is an inherent part of social discourse. Flickr/paolaharvey

Hot under the collar about climate change? It’s natural

Climate change is an issue that fires the emotions. Our media is full of images of this emotional engagement, from the despair of a venture capitalist in tears as he describes his fear “that we’re not…
An aerial view of the Cononaco River in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with a huge emergent Ceiba tree in the foreground. An aerial view of the Cononaco River in the Ecuadorian Amazon, with a huge emergent Ceiba tree in the foreground.

FactCheck: is protecting global rainforests the best way to rapidly tackle climate change?

“Nothing would do more to rapidly decrease the risk of climate change than a major plan to protect global rainforests” – Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt, media release, 30 August. Launching…
This is not Naegleria fowleri, but it’ll do to put the horrors of climate change on your mind. This is not Naegleria fowleri, but it’ll do to put the horrors of climate change on your mind. Andrés Monroy-Hernández/Flickr

Brain-eating’ parasites are winners in the warming world

An influential US blog about climate change recently featured the story of a “brain-eating” infectious parasite that has caused 31 deaths in that country in the past decade. “Brain-eating” is just one…
Strong action on climate change has been undermined by the fragmentation of politics. Strong action on climate change has been undermined by the fragmentation of politics. kukkurovaca/Flickr

The power of the fragment: why politicians have turned their backs on climate

A recent Vote Compass poll shows 61% of Australian adults want the federal government to do more to tackle climate change; 18% want it to do less. This figure, consistent with many polls over the years…
Just how much bigger can they get? Just how much bigger can they get? Chris Radburn/PA

Designing green ships, from sails to micro-bubbles

Maritime engineering is no exception in worldwide effort to save energy and protect the environment. In 2008 the International Maritime Organization, a UN agency, set up its Marine Environmental Protection…
Our brains predispose us to a quick fix, but with the right leadership we could choose a path to different future. Our brains predispose us to a quick fix, but with the right leadership we could choose a path to different future. Scott Ogilive

Wanted: political leader with a vision for a sustainable future

A sustainable future remains within our grasp but - thanks to the way human brains work - only governments can implement many of the necessary strategies. Our political leaders have a unique responsibility…
Yes, it rains a lot in the north. But it’s also dry a lot. And variability could get worse. Yes, it rains a lot in the north. But it’s also dry a lot. And variability could get worse. Kasi Metcalfe

Politicians have forgotten the ‘dry’ in dry tropics and the change in the climate

Northern futures, northern voices: It seems everyone has ideas about how Australia’s north could be better, but most of those ideas come from the south. In this six-part weekly series, developed by the…
Best served chilled: Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) Best served chilled: Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) Uwe Kils/BAS

A view to a krill: warming seas may leave predators hungry

Although it is far from the power stations, roads and flight paths of the populated world, the Southern Ocean is already responding to climate change. Average sea temperatures in some parts have risen…
Sometimes a piece of the puzzle won’t fit, but overall the picture is coming together. Sometimes a piece of the puzzle won’t fit, but overall the picture is coming together. Dave Ginsberg

150 years and counting: confidence in climate science

In the lead up to the release next month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) Fifth Assessment Report we are exploring concepts of confidence and certainty in climate science. The…
EU states have agreed that CCS is vital, but progress is slow. EU states have agreed that CCS is vital, but progress is slow. Owen Humphreys/PA

Explainer: what is carbon capture and storage?

The Energy Technologies Institute recently reported that without carbon capture and storage (CCS), the cost of reaching the UK’s climate change targets will double from around £30 billion per year in 2050…
Feeding starving wild animals could lead to domestication: is that adding insult to the injury of taking their habitat? Feeding starving wild animals could lead to domestication: is that adding insult to the injury of taking their habitat? EPA/Jenny E. Ross

Wild animals are starving, and it’s our fault, so should we feed them?

As polar bears begin to die of starvation in a warming Arctic, should we be feeding them? What are the ethical implications of feeding wild animals brought to this point by human actions? A polar bear…
Wrexham, like this driver, is ill-prepared for floods and other climate change-related problems. Wrexham, like this driver, is ill-prepared for floods and other climate change-related problems. Matt Price/Flickr

How ready for climate change is your town or city?

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities or urban areas, which means our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is tied up with cities' ability to cope. Responsible for more than…
It’s time to choose. It’s time to choose. Vattenfall/Flickr

Comparing the parties' climate change and renewables policies

Serious discussion of climate change policy has been noticeably absent this election campaign - while the issue was allotted a portion of the first leaders' debate, little time was devoted to it. Nonetheless…
What do you think of when you think about climate change? What do you think of when you think about climate change? Wikimedia/NOAA

Four Hiroshima bombs a second: how we imagine climate change

The planet is building up heat at the equivalent of four Hiroshima bombs worth of energy every second. And 90% of that heat is going into the oceans. Right, now I’ve got your attention. It’s widely acknowledged…
Miami, New York City… who’s next? Miami, New York City… who’s next? Allstar/Fox 2000/Sportsphoto Ltd

The inevitability of sea level rise

Small numbers can imply big things. Global sea level rose by a little less than 0.2 metres during the 20th century – mainly in response to the 0.8 °C of warming humans have caused through greenhouse gas…
You’re expecting us to solve climate change for you? You’re expecting us to solve climate change for you? Kaibab National Forest

Saving the world with cows: why simple ideas don’t work

Zimbabwean biologist Allan Savory proposed in a TED talk in March that getting more cows grazing on rangelands worldwide would soak up carbon dioxide. His suggestion has been a huge hit with online viewers…
This eastern shovelnose stingaree was once unheard of in northern Tasmania. Now it is abundant. This eastern shovelnose stingaree was once unheard of in northern Tasmania. Now it is abundant. Peter Last

Marine life spawns sooner as our oceans warm

Warming oceans are affecting the breeding patterns and habitat of marine life, according to a three-year international study published today in Nature Climate Change. This is effectively re-arranging the…
Climate change means some mountain species are just clinging on, but can they adapt? Climate change means some mountain species are just clinging on, but can they adapt? Australian Alps/Flickr

What can history tell us about species coping with climate change?

In work we published in Science today we look at two conflicting ideas on whether species can adapt to climate change. Are our ideas about extinction too catastrophic, or do we actually need to do more…
Cheap emissions permits means industry hasn’t traded in its polluting ways. Cheap emissions permits means industry hasn’t traded in its polluting ways. David Davies/PA

Permits to pollute can be bought too cheaply

When the carbon price collapsed to below €3 in April this year, EU policymakers sought to prop up carbon prices by a deal that would delay the release of carbon allowances (known as “backloading”). This…
Cane toads spread faster when they arrive in a new area. Cane toads spread faster when they arrive in a new area. Flickr/blundershot

Why cane toads give us small hope for climate change

Cane toads are one of the Australia’s most serious invasive species, killing predators such as goannas, quolls and crocodiles in the tropical north. We already know the toads are advancing from Queensland…
Storm’s-a-coming… Storm’s-a-coming… TEKN Photography/Flickr

The future will bring hurricanes to Europe

Damaging hurricanes are familiar along the US east coast, with the recent hurricane Sandy a dramatic example. In Europe we are unused to such dramatic weather and the widespread destruction that hurricanes…
Don’t want to move home? Don’t want to move home? MissTessmacher

Adapt, move, or die: the pressures of global warming

We all know that weather is not the same as climate, but it is surprising how our perceptions of global warming vary according to what we see outside our window. In the UK for example, last year’s washed-out…
Cracks appearing in the permafrost signal that a thaw is coming. Cracks appearing in the permafrost signal that a thaw is coming. Brocken Inaglory/Wikipedia

Melting Arctic’s methane timebomb could cost trillions

Arctic sea ice is retreating, with projections suggesting that the summer months will be substantially ice-free within the next few years. Nations are waking up to the possibilities for shipping and resource…
Improvements in newer climate models have resulted in larger uncertainties in future climate projections. Are climate models flawed and getting worse? Improvements in newer climate models have resulted in larger uncertainties in future climate projections. Are climate models flawed and getting worse? NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

There are no time-travelling climatologists: why we use climate models

The first climate models were built on fundamental laws of physics and chemistry and designed to study the climate system. Now, the use of climate models is heated ground in the public discussion of our…
Emergency management would be severely stretched under future conditions: we need a serious conversation now. Emergency management would be severely stretched under future conditions: we need a serious conversation now. Alexander Kesselaar

The conversation we need to have about carbon

Recent conversations about carbon pricing are still framed within gentle themes of continuing growth and well-being, where no one has to pay more for anything without being compensated. The words that…
All heat and light: we need action on climate not rhetoric and finger-pointing. All heat and light: we need action on climate not rhetoric and finger-pointing. Owen Humphreys/PA

China can teach the West about tackling climate change

China has become a popular target of environmental ire, drawing criticism for its soaring carbon emissions and perceived intransigence during climate negotiations. Nonetheless, an easy target isn’t always…
Kevin Rudd tried to turn climate change into a security issue, so why didn’t it work? Kevin Rudd tried to turn climate change into a security issue, so why didn’t it work? AAP Image/Danish Foreign Ministry

Rudd and the failed promise of climate security

Kevin Rudd once called climate change “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”. Despite the fiery rhetoric, support for climate change action declined during his tenure. So, how…
To whom does one complain about the PCC? To whom does one complain about the PCC? Yui Mok/PA

Freedom of speech is not freedom to spin

Free speech does not imply the freedom to mislead. We want our media to be free, but also honest and reliable. Balancing those sometimes competing demands is a subtle and difficult task. In many countries…
Forest fires will become more severe with climate change, inevitably taking a greater toll of lives. Forest fires will become more severe with climate change, inevitably taking a greater toll of lives. European Press Agency

Are extreme forest fires the new normal?

The tragic events in Yarnell, Arizona, where 19 firefighters died battling a forest fire, brought to the forefront the dangers of forest fires. The changes in climate that have been observed during the…
The numbers are in: human-generated emissions increased the odds of our record-breaking summer. The numbers are in: human-generated emissions increased the odds of our record-breaking summer. Lazellion/Flickr

The human role in our ‘angry’ hot summer

Today we released a study that shows quantitatively that anthropogenic climate change substantially increased the likelihood of the record-breaking Australian summer of 2013. Indeed, human influences on…
Coral are among the sea organisms susceptible to small changes in acidity. Coral are among the sea organisms susceptible to small changes in acidity. NOAA/David Burdick

Ocean acidification is chemistry, not conjecture

As a scientist working on the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems, one of my duties is to communicate my work. My main goal is to convince students, citizens, economists and politicians that…
Yes, it’s getting hotter. Now President Obama is taking action. Yes, it’s getting hotter. Now President Obama is taking action. EPA/Dennis Brack

Obama’s climate change plan: Congress not required

President Obama’s speech at Georgetown University yesterday marks the most significant development in US climate change action so far. The “President’s Climate Action Plan”, a 21-page document, sets out…
We have the technology to decarbonise: now we need the will. We have the technology to decarbonise: now we need the will. Luke Westall

Looking back from 2030: how the climate war was won

Minimising serious debate about climate change risks and solutions looks likely to be a key feature of the Australian media’s approach to the 2013 election campaign. There are however two powerful reasons…
Boards will need to be ‘six-capital literate’ in order to assess performance, identify risks and develop strategy. Boards will need to be ‘six-capital literate’ in order to assess performance, identify risks and develop strategy. Shutterstock

Integrated reporting to walk more than the bottom line

Paul Druckman, the CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), recently led the coalition’s global charge on corporate reporting changes to Australia, where he bolstered support and talked…
The Blue Marble: who’s pulling the strings here? The Blue Marble: who’s pulling the strings here? NASA

Even if Earth changes, life will continue with or without us

It seems somewhat eccentric if not a little absurd to suggest that a planet is a living thing. Earth has life on it, but it’s not a biological organism. Any theory or argument which concludes that the…
We’re already seeing the extreme weather scientists warned of; time to start doing something about it. We’re already seeing the extreme weather scientists warned of; time to start doing something about it. LJ Mears/Flickr

Updating the state of Australia’s climate

Two years ago the Climate Commission released its first major report, The Critical Decade: Climate Science Risks and Responses. The report synthesised the most recent climate change science. The phrase…
It’s hard to go places when no-one can agree on the road rules. It’s hard to go places when no-one can agree on the road rules. Flickr/mike nowak

Think politics is frustrating? Welcome to climate negotiations

The latest climate negotiations in Bonn have been stalled for two full weeks and climate multilateralism is in crisis mode leading up to the next major gathering in 2015. So, what is the problem? There…
The IEA thinks we can get a lot more mitigation mileage out of energy efficient vehicles. The IEA thinks we can get a lot more mitigation mileage out of energy efficient vehicles. Shell Eco-marathon

International Energy Agency report hopeful, but is it unrealistic?

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest report repeats the message we’ve heard from many sources - we’re heading for a temperature rise of much more than 2°C. But given its international reach and…
We need to models to understand complex systems: intuition won’t get us there. We need to models to understand complex systems: intuition won’t get us there. Kevin H./Flickr

Common sense won’t help you understand climate

Most of us understand the world by using common sense and intuition. To a large extent, this means assuming that most things behave in a roughly linear way: small changes in inputs lead to small changes…
A recent report says CFCs, not carbon dioxide, are the culprit in climate change. A recent report says CFCs, not carbon dioxide, are the culprit in climate change. weegeeboard/Flickr

Are CFCs responsible for global warming?

On Monday, a report appeared in the Australian claiming a link between chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) in the atmosphere and global warming. The report claimed “banned aerosols” and not carbon dioxide were “responsible…
Your MP may accept climate change is a problem, but is he or she doing enough to fix it? Your MP may accept climate change is a problem, but is he or she doing enough to fix it? AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Your MP won’t act on climate change? Ask the tough questions

Politicians are in the unique position of being able to enact climate policies that can prevent or minimise great harm to millions, if not billions, of people. They have an ethical responsibility to understand…
Rising temperatures may have drastic impacts on the world’s wine regions but Tasmania is using climate variability as a driver for innovation. Rising temperatures may have drastic impacts on the world’s wine regions but Tasmania is using climate variability as a driver for innovation. Flickr/santheo

Australia’s farming future: Tasmania

Wine grapes are a sensitive bunch. As Australia’s climate changes, the future of Australia’s viticulture will depend on the adaptability of its wine-growers. Tasmania produces wine with unique, cool-climate…
Climate change is just another variable for Queensland farmers. Climate change is just another variable for Queensland farmers. Lock the Gate Alliance

Australia’s farming future: Queensland

Queensland farmers are used to dealing with variable seasons, but the long-term shifts of climate change are expected to create new challenges. Queensland farmers already do a good job of managing a variable…
New drought policy is designed to manage the risks climate change conditions pose to successful crop production in Western Australia. New drought policy is designed to manage the risks climate change conditions pose to successful crop production in Western Australia. Flickr/Grevillea

Australia’s farming future: Western Australia

Climate change, and its associated variability, is posing a challenge for farm businesses in Western Australia. The grainbelt has experienced a 20% decline in rainfall over the last several decades, more…
What percentage of the world’s fossil fuel do we have the right to burn? What percentage of the world’s fossil fuel do we have the right to burn? OzinOH/Flickr

Another budget in massive deficit

Now that the federal budget is out of the way, it’s time to look at another budget soon to be massively in deficit – Australia’s greenhouse emissions budget. Last week, atmospheric concentrations of carbon…
We’ll never know how much the globe will warm, but we have a pretty good idea: what are we waiting for? We’ll never know how much the globe will warm, but we have a pretty good idea: what are we waiting for? Luis Ramirez

Uncertainty no excuse for procrastinating on climate change

Today we released research which reduces the range of uncertainty in future global warming. It does not alter the fact we will never be certain about how, exactly, the climate will change. We always have…
Cut from the sea bed this 20m long core contains 100,000 years of climate history. Cut from the sea bed this 20m long core contains 100,000 years of climate history. Ian Hall

Humans have a long history of coming together to solve a climate crisis

Responding to a crisis often brings out the best in people. Certainly it has in the past, when sudden changes in climate during the Middle Stone Age sparked off surges of cultural evolution and innovation…
You can blink, you won’t miss it. Climate change is here for good. You can blink, you won’t miss it. Climate change is here for good. rudecactus

Global warming is here to stay, whichever way you look at it

Has global warming stalled? This question is increasingly being asked because the local weather seems cool and wet, or because the global mean temperature is not increasing at its earlier rate or the long-term…
Heading into the next climate treaty, it looks like getting everyone on board will be more important than reducing emissions. Heading into the next climate treaty, it looks like getting everyone on board will be more important than reducing emissions. RB Reed

Universal and useless? The 2015 global climate agreement

It looks as though everyone will be happy to sign the next global climate agreement, due in 2015. Why? Because there will be very little in the agreement that will force countries to act on climate change…
We aren’t irreversibly committed to a warmer world. We aren’t irreversibly committed to a warmer world. Moyan Brenn earthincolors.wordpress.com

Emissions cuts made now fight global warming immediately

There is a commonly held belief among both scientists and the general public that there is a delay between the CO2 emissions we put into the atmosphere, and the resulting climate change. As a consequence…
Both sides of politics need to take the carbon tax fight to the election. Both sides of politics need to take the carbon tax fight to the election. Flickr/Leonard John Matthews

Why Labor should fight the 2013 election on climate change

If climate change features prominently in the federal election campaign, it will almost certainly be driven by the Coalition. Under Tony Abbott, the Coalition has long smelled blood in the water on climate…
Despite a promised repeal of the carbon tax, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan may miss the opportunity to drive energy innovation. Despite a promised repeal of the carbon tax, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan may miss the opportunity to drive energy innovation. AAP Image

Climate action under an Abbott government

It looks likely that the next Federal Government will be a Tony Abbott-led Coalition Government. Mr Abbott promises, if elected, to repeal the carbon tax. Labor may block that repeal, but if they do Tony…
Giant creatures such as the marsupial ‘lion’ (Thylacoleo carnifex) didn’t die out from hunting. Giant creatures such as the marsupial ‘lion’ (Thylacoleo carnifex) didn’t die out from hunting. Peter Schouten

Climate change wiped out Australia’s megafauna

Throughout the Ice Age that characterised our planet for much of the last two million years or so mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea formed a single landmass — Sahul. It was a strange and often…
The Mountain Pygmy-possum is clinging to existence in its alpine refuges. The Mountain Pygmy-possum is clinging to existence in its alpine refuges. Hayley Bates

Australian endangered species: Mountain Pygmy-possum

The Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) is one of five living species of pygmy-possum, all of which are classified within a single family. It is the largest of the pygmy-possums, and can be easily…
Yes, some parts of Europe used to be warmer. But the world is warmer overall, and the evidence for it being human-induced is mounting up. Yes, some parts of Europe used to be warmer. But the world is warmer overall, and the evidence for it being human-induced is mounting up. LetsGolran.com

Evidence adds up: three studies of human impact on climate

Three new studies were published today, each looking at a different aspect of the human impact on climate, each carrying a sobering message on the consequences of human activities on our environment. The…
The body of people and organisations speaking out against fuel and energy subsidies is growing. The body of people and organisations speaking out against fuel and energy subsidies is growing. AAP Image/Penny Bradfield

Subsidies for unburnable carbon need to go up in smoke

More than half of global greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels. Reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuel use is a critical priority. Most of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves…
The Climate Commission is leading the way on climate change communication with its latest report providing scientific context for extreme weather events. The Climate Commission is leading the way on climate change communication with its latest report providing scientific context for extreme weather events. Climate Commission

And now to the weather: climate science on the front foot

The Climate Commission’s latest report, released recently, and some of the media that arose from it are excellent examples of science and journalists working together to talk about climate change and extreme…
Every which way but forward. Are biofuels an answer to aviation emissions we can agree on? Every which way but forward. Are biofuels an answer to aviation emissions we can agree on? pearsongraphics/Flickr

Not even Nobel prize winners can fix aviation emissions

Aviation is a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. In other industries emissions are declining, or at least are better regulated. Airline emissions, however, continue to soar. How viable are laws…
Antarctica’s delicate marine ecosystems are under threat from climate change and ocean acidification. Antarctica’s delicate marine ecosystems are under threat from climate change and ocean acidification. wikimedia/Steve Clabuesch

Warning bells: what Antarctica can teach us about ocean acidification

When it comes to climate change, temperature is only part of the story. Climate gases released by human activity are dissolving into the oceans, and the increased levels of CO₂ are making the waters more…
Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Candle in the dark image from www.shutterstock.com/Ronen

Save now, pay later: the hidden costs of lower electricity bills

No lights, no power, no internet - and no easy solutions. Fumbling around in a middle of a blackout, hoping to find a torch or some spare batteries, I was struck by just how utterly dependent most of us…
Even in Tasmania, it’s been hotter than it should be. Even in Tasmania, it’s been hotter than it should be. James975/Flickr

More angry, more often: March heatwave signals a new normal

Daylight hours are dwindling and our first month of autumn is ending. But in many places, March felt a lot like summer. Get used to it: looking ahead, all indications are that future summers could be just…
Mass extinctions caused by rapidly escalating levels of CO2 have occurred before. Mass extinctions caused by rapidly escalating levels of CO2 have occurred before. Global warming image from www.shutterstock.com

Another link between CO2 and mass extinctions of species

It’s long been known that massive increases in emission of CO2 from volcanoes, associated with the opening of the Atlantic Ocean in the end-Triassic Period, set off a shift in state of the climate which…
A proportion of investors want to avoid controversial asset classes - but would it pay off? A proportion of investors want to avoid controversial asset classes - but would it pay off?

Can super investors really bank on ethical investment?

One quarter of Australians would be willing to switch superannuation funds to avoid investing in coal or coal seam gas, according to a recent survey. Not only does this research raise important questions…
People affected by floods move to higher grounds in Khoski, Sindh province, Pakistan, 17 September 2011. People affected by floods move to higher grounds in Khoski, Sindh province, Pakistan, 17 September 2011. AAP

Weather extremes: atmospheric waves and climate change

The northern hemisphere has experienced a spate of extreme weather in recent times. In 2012 there were destructive heat waves in the US and southern Europe, accompanied by floods in China. This followed…
Recent research shows an acidifying ocean is more damaging to coral than we’d hoped. Recent research shows an acidifying ocean is more damaging to coral than we’d hoped. Community Eye Health

Jumps in ocean acidity put coral in more peril

Ocean acidification - where the ocean becomes less alkaline as it absorbs excess CO2 from the atmosphere - has been described as the evil twin of global warming. Yet, remarkably, it is only over the past…
Heat, floods and fire: it’s not just weather. Heat, floods and fire: it’s not just weather. timswinson.com

Angry summer shaped by a shifting climate

The hottest summer on record. The hottest month on record. The hottest day ever recorded for the whole of Australia. Heatwaves, bushfires, record rainfall and floods – extreme events across the land. This…
Another summer, not quite like the other summers. Another summer, not quite like the other summers. Steve Lacy

Floods, fires and lots of heat: summing up summer 2012-13

We all know what to expect from summer in Australia. From December through March it will be hot, there will be storms and floods, and there will be bush fires. It’s been like that for as long as history…
Australia’s latest summer has been significant for weather and for climate. Australia’s latest summer has been significant for weather and for climate. VIBE Audio

Hot summer? Yes: the hottest

This summer hasn’t just felt hot. It’s been hot. In fact, the summer of 2012-13 is now the hottest on record. Average temperatures beat the record set in the summer of 1997-98, and daytime maximum temperatures…
Coal threatens our future: what kind of investment is that? Coal threatens our future: what kind of investment is that? AAP Image/Paul Miller

Future Fund drops tobacco: should fossil fuels be next?

After a year long public campaign, the Future Fund has today announced plans to end its $222 million investment in tobacco. The decision follows much debate about whether the Future Fund should engage…
Locally, tipping points are real, but it’s unlikely the whole globe will go at once. Locally, tipping points are real, but it’s unlikely the whole globe will go at once. Truthout.org

Worrying about global tipping points distracts from real planetary threats

In a paper published today in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Barry Brook and colleagues argue against the idea of an ecological global-scale “tipping point”. Here, Professor Brook outlines the paper’s…
Look at ocean temperatures if you want to know whether the earth is still warming. Look at ocean temperatures if you want to know whether the earth is still warming. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Fact check: has global warming paused?

“The UN’s climate change chief, Rajendra Pachauri, has acknowledged a 17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain’s Met Office, but said it would need to last ‘30 to 40 years…
We have to get used to the idea that climate change doesn’t happen in a smooth line. We have to get used to the idea that climate change doesn’t happen in a smooth line. thinboyfatter/flickr

Time to stop hiding behind warming trends

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC, has reportedly acknowledged to Graham Lloyd of The Australian, that there is a “17-year pause in global temperature rises”, a fact that apparently has been suppressed…
Newspeak and thoughtcrime have taken over the way we discuss climate change. Newspeak and thoughtcrime have taken over the way we discuss climate change. tim rich and lesley katon

Orwellian climate double-speak dominating discussion

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act - George Orwell In George Orwell’s novel 1984, the term “Newspeak” conveys changes not only to the language but to the nature…
Even if Congress is opposed, President Obama has made it clear he means to act on climate change. Even if Congress is opposed, President Obama has made it clear he means to act on climate change. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

State of the Union: climate change action is a domestic concern

In his Inauguration address on 21 January, Obama placed tackling climate change high on the agenda for his second term. His definitive statement that “we will respond to the threat of climate change” signalled…
Wild koala in the Western Downs region of Qld exhibiting abnormal behaviour due to drought conditions. Wild koala in the Western Downs region of Qld exhibiting abnormal behaviour due to drought conditions. P. Murphy, December 2009

The koala in the coalmine

If we need an indicator that climate change is upon us, we need look no further than Australia’s koala. The koala family (Phascolarctidae) has existed in Australia for tens of millions of years, yet in…
A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and that can lead to more extreme rainfall. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and that can lead to more extreme rainfall. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Increases in rainfall extremes linked to global warming

Rainfall extremes are increasing around the world, and the increase is linked to the warming of the atmosphere which has taken place since pre-industrial times. This is the conclusion of a recent study…
Pi finds a strange and beautiful island where life can’t survive. Pi finds a strange and beautiful island where life can’t survive. wildfox76/Flickr

Life of Pi’s acidic island a warning for our warming world

The recently released film Life of Pi directed by Ang Lee and based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name, is a fable for our climate change times. Much of the plot involves the struggles of a teenage…
Our impact on the earth has brought on a new geographical epoch – The Age of Humans. Our impact on the earth has brought on a new geographical epoch – The Age of Humans. AAP/Damien Shaw

Climate change signals the end of the social sciences

In response to the heatwave that set a new Australia-wide record on 7 January, when the national average maximum reached 40.33°C, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a statement that, on reflection, sounds…
While Obama may have given little up-front attention to climate change, he’s assembled a top-notch team behind the scenes. While Obama may have given little up-front attention to climate change, he’s assembled a top-notch team behind the scenes. EPA/Mark Wilson

Inauguration speech a real source of climate change hope

President Obama’s inauguration speech this week presented a source of real hope for all those concerned about global climate change. With eight sentences, he devoted more of his address to this “wicked…
As natural disasters happen more often, rising insurance premiums will force the private sector to take action on climate change. As natural disasters happen more often, rising insurance premiums will force the private sector to take action on climate change. AAP

Climate change is everybody’s business

Hurricane Sandy may or may not be a direct result of climate change, but what is certain is that the incidence of extreme climate events is increasing. Such events are predicted by climate models, according…
From hot property to unwanted waste: it’s time to rethink the way we design, produce and reuse new products. From hot property to unwanted waste: it’s time to rethink the way we design, produce and reuse new products. Obsolete computer image from www.shutterstock.com

A cooler planet by design

Many of us get frustrated with the slow pace of international action on climate change. But powerless as we feel, we can still make a difference by rethinking the way we design our lives. Design is rarely…
On the international stage, China is reluctant to cut emissions. Back home, its new emissions trading scheme will be the world’s second largest. On the international stage, China is reluctant to cut emissions. Back home, its new emissions trading scheme will be the world’s second largest. Flickr/peregrinari

Carbon trading in the Asian Century: China’s ETS on track

In the United Nation’s annual climate change conference held in Doha last December, delegates from 194 countries came together at the last minute to extend the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol is a legally…
An eerie parallel exists between the gun control and climate change debates, involving statistics, “evidence” and entrenched positions. An eerie parallel exists between the gun control and climate change debates, involving statistics, “evidence” and entrenched positions. AAP

Will climate change ever have its Sandy Hook moment?

It’s easy to bash America. Externally Americans are often characterised as loud, star-spangled, gun-toting, bible-bashing, right-wing extremists with Fox News continually on in the background and a gas-guzzling…
The sun’s influence on climate may be smaller than you’ve heard. The sun’s influence on climate may be smaller than you’ve heard. onlinewoman/Flickr

Sun and climate moving in opposite directions, says leaked IPCC report

Last week, blogger Alec Rawls leaked a working draft of the 5th Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). One section of the IPCC report examines the role of the sun on…
Everyone wants good news about coral, but we shouldn’t misinterpret the latest findings. Everyone wants good news about coral, but we shouldn’t misinterpret the latest findings. Phil Camill

Research good news for coralline algae, but not necessarily for reefs

As Doha disappoints on delivering any real progress on reducing global CO2 emissions, new research demonstrates that a key component of coral reef structures may be more resilient in the face of increasing…
Want to know what’s going on with the atmosphere? Ask the American Geophysical Union. Want to know what’s going on with the atmosphere? Ask the American Geophysical Union. Jim Nix

The real debate on climate is happening in San Francisco

The latest climate talks in Doha are unlikely to yield a breakthrough. Instead, the can will most likely be kicked further down the road, at considerable future cost. The Doha negotiations coincide with…
Our opportunity to keep temperature rises below two degrees may have slipped away. Our opportunity to keep temperature rises below two degrees may have slipped away. Ged Carroll

The widening gap between present emissions and the two-degree target

The 2012 global carbon emission summary released today shows an ever-widening gap between rising emissions and the steps necessary to keep global temperatures within the generally agreed - but increasingly…
What’s behind Australia’s Kyoto target, and could we shift it? What’s behind Australia’s Kyoto target, and could we shift it? ##Erika**/Flickr

Australia’s Kyoto 2 target: shaking up our thinking

At the Doha climate conference, Australia has submitted a 99.5% emissions target for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Why is Australia doing it, and what does it mean? Setting a good example…
Urban development in coastal Australia brings people closer to mosquito habitats while often also creating new wetlands. Urban development in coastal Australia brings people closer to mosquito habitats while often also creating new wetlands. Webb, Medical Entomology

Using urban planning to reduce mosquito-borne disease

There are many ways to prevent mosquito-borne diseases – insecticides to kill mosquitoes, vaccines to prevent infection and healthy doses of insect repellent before heading off for fishing trips. But while…
All eyes are on Doha, but most of the action is taking place in Asia. All eyes are on Doha, but most of the action is taking place in Asia. almasudi/Flickr

Doha is worthwhile, but real decisions are elsewhere

The irony of the world’s climate change negotiators meeting in Doha this week cannot be lost on anyone taking an interest in climate change. Qatar is hardly a model of the low carbon economy. With annual…
What is the long view for humanity? What is the long view for humanity? Judah Morford

Views on the future of Homo sapiens

In 1947 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set up a clock telling us how close we were to global calamity. It was initially set at seven minutes to midnight; then its hands shifted back to 17 minutes to…
The American people have spoken in favour of climate change by re-electing Barack Obama to a second presidential term. The American people have spoken in favour of climate change by re-electing Barack Obama to a second presidential term. Flickr/350.org

Obama’s second term challenges must include tackling climate change

In his acceptance speech of November 6, Barack Obama at long last reaffirmed the need to address global warming. But unfortunately he also reaffirmed the spurious goal of US oil independence, which can…
There’s not much left to show megafauna were hunted, but that doesn’t prove they weren’t. There’s not much left to show megafauna were hunted, but that doesn’t prove they weren’t. Peter Murray

Hunting or climate change? Megafauna extinction debate narrows

What is the oldest debate in Australian science? Probably, the argument over what caused extinction of our Pleistocene megafauna – the diprotodons, giant kangaroos, marsupial tapirs, über-echidnas and…
Several countries have backed away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Several countries have backed away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in Japan. http://www.theenvironmentalblog.org/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/environmentblog

Fossil fuel subsidies up, nuclear power down: IEA

Market-distorting fossil fuel subsidies rose 30% from 2010 to 2011, stymying efforts to boost the renewables sector and reduce greenhouse emissions worldwide, a new global report has found. The 2012 World…
Global energy use must grow substantially every year to keep up with population - our decarbonisation efforts aren’t making inroads. Global energy use must grow substantially every year to keep up with population - our decarbonisation efforts aren’t making inroads. Carolyn Chan

The Australian Government, Kyoto and the illusion of progress

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, announced on Friday that Australia is “ready” to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework…
A coal ship caught on Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle. The city is the biggest in the world for coal exports. A coal ship caught on Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle. The city is the biggest in the world for coal exports. asnewlibrarian/Flick

Why Australia must stop exporting coal

Why get worked up about our climate responsibilities when Australia’s contribution to global emissions – around 1.5% of the total - is small? Here is the usual reply. Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas…
The new normal? … Climate change will be at the forefront of discussion in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy. The new normal? … Climate change will be at the forefront of discussion in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy. Wandering the World/Flickr

After the deluge, what hope the politics of climate response?

I am writing with Hurricane Sandy having brought devastation to New York and the East coast of the United States. Much has been written on the politics of climate change. But until a few days ago, a severe…
New Jersey was hit hard by the storm surge. New Jersey was hit hard by the storm surge. Michael Reynolds/AAP

Losing higher ground: hurricanes and sea level rise

As I write this, the worst coastal flooding effects from Hurricane Sandy’s attack on the densely populated regions of the US northeast are almost over. Even so, the effects have been significant: record…
Recent extreme weather doesn’t tell us how the future will be. Recent extreme weather doesn’t tell us how the future will be. EPA/Justin Lane

Hurricane Sandy: the new normal?

Are we now experiencing the “new normal” climate? Let’s look at the recent evidence: A storm of historic proportions is moving up the east coast as a Nor’easter without precedent, since no such storm has…
Sea levels are rising globally at record-breaking rates and Antarctica is playing an increasing role. Sea levels are rising globally at record-breaking rates and Antarctica is playing an increasing role. Matt King

Weigh-in reveals Antarctica’s losing 190 million tonnes a day

A small slice of Antarctica turns up along your coastline each year. We’re all glad it’s just a small slice, given Antarctica could deliver a total sea-level rise of 59 metres. That’s not going to happen…
Methane locked under the Arctic ice could take climate change to a whole new level. Methane locked under the Arctic ice could take climate change to a whole new level. Antonio Delgado Huertas

Methane hydrates: a volatile time bomb in the Arctic

The risk with climate change is not with the direct effect of humans on the greenhouse capacity of Earth’s atmosphere. The major risk is that the relatively modest human perturbation will unleash much…
Children suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. Children suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. Flickr/SeemaKK

Future under threat: climate change and children’s health

Climate change has been widely recognised by leading public health organisations and prestigious peer reviewed journals as the the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. A recently released…
Brightening and increasing a cloud’s longevity would help reduce the effects of global warming. Brightening and increasing a cloud’s longevity would help reduce the effects of global warming. karindalziel/Flickr

Whiter than white: could brightening clouds reduce symptoms of climate change?

Marine cloud brightening: it’s a concept that has been floated in climate engineering discussions for some time. But what are the moral implications of this geoengineering technology, and how likely is…
Mitt Romney and the Republicans are openly sceptical of climate change. Mitt Romney and the Republicans are openly sceptical of climate change. EPA/Michael Reynolds

What happened to climate change? Fox News and the US elections

Climate change has been significantly absent from the US presidential election campaign. President Obama, who made climate change a key plank of his 2008 campaign, has not been anywhere near as vocal in…
The role of powerlines in bushfires is raising some pressing issues of climate change adaptation. The role of powerlines in bushfires is raising some pressing issues of climate change adaptation. Paul Hocksenar

Hot issue - bushfires, powerlines and climate change

We have unwittingly hardwired a bushfire ignition source throughout our flammable landscapes – powerlines. Powerlines can fail under any conditions but the risk increases on days of high bushfire risk…
Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. AAP

We need a treaty to help people displaced by climate change

Climate change will lead to significant human displacement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other groups warn that the effects – including rising sea levels, heavier floods, more…
The climate system is highly sensitive to radiative forcing, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing more extreme weather events. Isn’t it time to take notice? The climate system is highly sensitive to radiative forcing, so it’s no wonder we’re seeing more extreme weather events. Isn’t it time to take notice? AAP

The atmosphere’s shift of state and the origin of extreme weather events

The linear nature of global warming trends projected by the IPCC since 1990 and as late as 2007 (see Figure 1) has given the public and policy makers an impression there is plenty of time for economies…
Will we ultimately see 2012 as triumphant, or as just one step in an emerging global tragedy? Will we ultimately see 2012 as triumphant, or as just one step in an emerging global tragedy? Jenny Varley

Opening the fabled Northwest Passage: triumph or tragedy?

A combination of 33-year satellite records, measurements made over the past century, and long-term proxy analysis suggests Arctic sea ice may be at its lowest level for more than 1,000 years. According…
We don’t know what the Australian landscape will look like in 50 years, but we know it will change. We don’t know what the Australian landscape will look like in 50 years, but we know it will change. Tezza #

Climate change will transform the bush … and we’ll have to think big to cope

Within decades, environments across Australia will be substantially different from those that currently exist. CSIRO research released today suggests that, by 2030, climate change stress on our natural…
We thought we’d set a safe limit on climate change - 450ppm CO2 - but it may be too high for most of the world’s reefs. We thought we’d set a safe limit on climate change - 450ppm CO2 - but it may be too high for most of the world’s reefs. Paul Toogood

Climate change guardrail too hot for coral reefs?

One of the ambitions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is galvanising the international community to avoid dangerous interference with Earth’s climate. To do this, it…
Is there a relationship between the ozone hole over Antarctica and the global climate? Is there a relationship between the ozone hole over Antarctica and the global climate? AAP/Dean Lewins

The Antarctic ozone hole and climate change: an anniversary worth celebrating

SAVING THE OZONE: Part five in our series exploring the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement” – explores the parallels…
Over summer, the US has been dry and hot. It’s not alone. Over summer, the US has been dry and hot. It’s not alone. EPA/Larry W Smith

Northern hemisphere has another hot, hot summer

The 2012 northern hemisphere summer, like its two predecessors, has seen a wide range of climate extremes, many involving heat. In most recent summers there has been at least one part of the world with…
Bumping into a jaguar in Mexico’s cloud forest could soon be a thing of the past. Bumping into a jaguar in Mexico’s cloud forest could soon be a thing of the past. Kjersti Holmang/Wikimedia Commons

Head in the clouds: reserves won’t save Mexico’s forest

The chances of being roared at by a jaguar in a Mexican cloud forest are already low, but that is precisely what happened to me during a recent fieldwork expedition. I was very lucky to see a jaguar close…
Office temperature regulations are bad for comfort and the environment. Office temperature regulations are bad for comfort and the environment. Kim n Cris Knight

Shivering in summer? Sweating in winter? Your building is living a lie

I have a challenge for the next time you’re at work. Take a look around at your colleagues. Now look at yourself. What are you wearing? It’s still winter (just), so if you’re in the southern states you…
US development of wind energy is lowering emissions without reducing economic growth. US development of wind energy is lowering emissions without reducing economic growth. Sam Beebe

Climate Commission: global climate action gathers momentum

Ninety countries representing 90% of the global economy are committed to reducing their greenhouse emissions and are taking action to do so. This is one of the take-home messages from the Climate Commission’s…
Could listening be the way forward for scientists and science? Could listening be the way forward for scientists and science? shannonkringen

Help needed: can you fix the science/ society divide?

Want to help fix the science/ society divide? We’re making a documentary looking at how we might do this, and we’re looking for your help. Why? Well … You don’t need to be a rocket sociologist to know…
Little penguins are among a number of species that are threatened by climate change. Little penguins are among a number of species that are threatened by climate change. AAP/Rick Stevens

Ocean winners and losers revealed in Marine Report Card

Fish are on the move in Australia’s waters. In southern Australia, scientists, commercial and recreational fishers, divers and beach-goers are reporting the presence of new species. The movement of species…
Coral species Acropora monticulosa is becoming more abundant at the Solitary Islands in northern NSW. Coral species Acropora monticulosa is becoming more abundant at the Solitary Islands in northern NSW.

On the move: corals migrate south into NSW’s warming waters

The east coast of Australia is a global hotspot for the effects of climate change, especially in the marine realm, where average water temperatures have increased by almost half a degree over the last…
Many Australians think they have experienced events associated with climate change. Many Australians think they have experienced events associated with climate change. AAP Image/Tony McDonough

What does ‘belief’ in climate change really mean?

Where one stands on “climate change” has been such a vexed and often confusing issue, at dinner parties, over coffee, with the taxi driver, and in terms of media reporting of where the Australian public…
Global land-surface temperatures are up, but it’s not really news. Global land-surface temperatures are up, but it’s not really news. Stuart Dowell

On global temperatures, Berkeley’s BEST is similar to the rest

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study recently found that global land-surface temperatures have increased by about 1°C since the 1950s — and 1.5°C since the mid-18th century. These results…
We know next to nothing about Earth ecology. We know next to nothing about Earth ecology. Aschevogel/Flickr

Hurrah for Mars, but why not more curiosity about life on Earth?

The landing of the explorer Curiosity on Mars is a fantastic affirmation of the extraordinary technical capacities of humans. A series of remote, high risk choreographed moves saw a small mobile laboratory…
Australians generally accept that the climate is changing, but we have lost confidence in politicians, experts, and the media to guide us in what to do about it. Australians generally accept that the climate is changing, but we have lost confidence in politicians, experts, and the media to guide us in what to do about it. Flickr/spodzone

Reading the Climate of the Nation 2012

Over the past several decades, scientists have studied the climate of the world and how that is changing. These studies have built on the recognition, made over 150 years ago by John Tindall, that certain…
Tree rings from around the time of Christ suggest warmer regional temperatures than those between the 1950s to the 1980s, but this does not imply higher mean global temperatures. Tree rings from around the time of Christ suggest warmer regional temperatures than those between the 1950s to the 1980s, but this does not imply higher mean global temperatures. Flickr/Petrified Forest Ranger

On tree rings, CO2 levels and the Pliocene

A study of tree-ring data recently found that in some regions temperatures during Roman times (21AD to 50AD) were 1.05 degrees Celsius higher than the 1951-1980 mean. The paper’s lead author, Professor…
Relax and have a drink, old chap; the planet has managed to look after itself so far without any fuss. Relax and have a drink, old chap; the planet has managed to look after itself so far without any fuss. Flickr/cyclonebill

Climate change and the soothing message of luke-warmism

We are familiar with the tactics, arguments, and personnel of the denial industry. Yet there is a perhaps more insidious and influential line of argument that is preventing the world from responding to…
Sign of things to come: a depleted Lake Hume in 2007, when the big dry still had a couple years to run. Sign of things to come: a depleted Lake Hume in 2007, when the big dry still had a couple years to run. Flickr/Tim J Keegan

Climate change and Victoria: high time to innovate, adapt, and cope

Victoria has entered a critical decade in the race to adapt for the stresses of climate change, according to a new report from the Climate Commission. Following the release of Victorian climate impacts…
Economic modelling shows Australia’s GDP will be modestly affected by the carbon tax in the long term: but the equitable redistribution of tax revenue will be critical. Economic modelling shows Australia’s GDP will be modestly affected by the carbon tax in the long term: but the equitable redistribution of tax revenue will be critical. AAP

The carbon tax: insurance against climate change?

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is like buying an insurance policy: we incur a cost to reduce a risk. Every year Australians spend millions on insuring homes, cars and their health, not because they know…
Landcare get-together: reducing our toll on nature comes in part from many of us taking steps that individually are not always so big, but which accumulate. The carbon tax is one such step. Landcare get-together: reducing our toll on nature comes in part from many of us taking steps that individually are not always so big, but which accumulate. The carbon tax is one such step. Flickr/feral arts

Little by little: the benefits of Australian climate policy

A catchment threatened by salinity can’t be repaired by one or two landholders. Revegetation designed to lower watertables has its greatest ecological benefit where the plants are, but its net impact on…
Former politician and economist John Hewson speaks to ANU’s Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman and Daniel Connell. Former politician and economist John Hewson speaks to ANU’s Crawford School’s Bruce Chapman and Daniel Connell.

John Hewson: tax reform doesn’t just mean lowering taxes

Welcome to the latest in our In Conversation series, between former politician and economist Dr John Hewson, Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School Director of Policy Impact Professor Bruce…
What does it matter how much rain falls on the ocean? For understanding climate, it matters quite a lot. What does it matter how much rain falls on the ocean? For understanding climate, it matters quite a lot. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Are the world’s wet regions becoming wetter and dry regions becoming drier?

Surprising evidence from the oceans suggests they are responding to warming at a faster rate than we previously thought. These changes are expressed by patterns of freshening and enhanced salinity in the…
Climate change is only one of many pressures farmers will have to adapt to. Climate change is only one of many pressures farmers will have to adapt to. Pete Hill

The three Ps of climate change and agriculture

Opinions on anthropogenic climate change vary greatly across society, and it appears that Australia’s farmers remain largely sceptical about the causes of climate change. Recent surveys show that only…
Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax, but it may be more difficult than he thinks. Tony Abbott has pledged to repeal the carbon tax, but it may be more difficult than he thinks. AAP/David Crosling

Tony Abbott cannot escape the international climate game

What’s in a name? Well, like “Montague” and “Capulet” in Shakespeare’s play, names matter quite a lot in the tribal world of Australian climate politics. The notion of a “carbon tax” has struck a raw nerve…
Behind the times: Europe already had carbon taxes in 1992 back when Vanilla Ice topped the Australian charts. Behind the times: Europe already had carbon taxes in 1992 back when Vanilla Ice topped the Australian charts. AAP/Musicbiz

Start a carbon tax? That’s so 1991. Clean innovation and partnerships is where it’s at

We price carbon. This is nothing new. The first time this explicitly happened, Vanilla Ice hit number one in Australia, and Bryan Adams was topping the global charts with “(Everything I do) I do it for…
This is carbon. The carbon you keep hearing about on the news is probably carbon dioxide. It doesn’t look like this. This is carbon. The carbon you keep hearing about on the news is probably carbon dioxide. It doesn’t look like this. Rui Costa

What is ‘carbon pollution’ and why are we trying to stop it?

You’ll doubtless have heard Australia is introducing a “carbon tax” this Sunday to reduce “carbon pollution”. What is being controlled is not just any carbon but emissions of a specific gas, carbon dioxide…
International organisation 350.org encourages the building of grass-roots movements to combat climate change. International organisation 350.org encourages the building of grass-roots movements to combat climate change. 350.org

Building the new economy: alternative strategies for the 99%

Bob Massie, CEO of the New Economics Institute opened the recent Strategies for a New Economy conference, held at Bard College, New York with a thoughtful response to the criticism that the Occupy movement…
Sometimes even the clearest signs of change are ignored. Sometimes even the clearest signs of change are ignored. Flickr/baldeaglebluff

Adapting to climate change: more questions than answers!

With increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, and no clear internationally-agreed path for emission reductions, we are faced with a global climate that will be at least two degrees warmer than today…
Big, ambitious strides aren’t the way to escape from this mess. Big, ambitious strides aren’t the way to escape from this mess. EPA/Zsolt Szigetvary

Rio+20: Small steps could get us out of the climate quicksand

Yesterday, Nick Rowley looked at the history of sustainability agreements and why we’ve reached the impasse of Rio+20. Today he suggests a different approach. Back in November 2005, your perspective on…
Vulnerable people and places are worst affected by weather-related disasters, especially those most reliant on the land. Vulnerable people and places are worst affected by weather-related disasters, especially those most reliant on the land. Chaim Zvi

Disasters and mental health in rural and remote areas

Mental health problems cause profound suffering and are worthy of attention for that reason alone. But despite policy and service reform, such problems remain as common, expensive and disabling as they…
Plentiful carbon-based fuel and falling world energy prices are a mixed blessing. Plentiful carbon-based fuel and falling world energy prices are a mixed blessing. Adrian Bradshaw/AAP

How to sell green energy in an era of abundant gas and oil

Since the middle of the last decade, well before the worldwide run-up in fuel prices during 2008, it has been widely believed that we are entering a new era of scarcity in carbon-based fuels such as oil…
Elinor Ostrom, the only woman to have won a Nobel prize for economics, was most famous for challenging the idea of the “tragedy of the commons”: that in the absence of government intervention, people will overuse shared resources. Elinor Ostrom, the only woman to have won a Nobel prize for economics, was most famous for challenging the idea of the “tragedy of the commons”: that in the absence of government intervention, people will overuse shared resources. acschweigert

The grand philosopher of the Commons: in memory of Elinor Ostrom

The grand philosopher of the Commons, Elinor Ostrom, passed away on the 12th June 2012. She was a brilliant, creative polymath; a theoretician of fine precision and great intellectual power; a deviser…
How bad do things have to get before we want to seriously address environmental issues? How bad do things have to get before we want to seriously address environmental issues? AAP

UN produces another boring global environmental warning; world continues not caring

The fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) - a global environmental report card by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - reads like the results for a sedentary, middle-aged…
Farmers are adept at using science to deal with all kinds of challenges, but they have their doubts about climate change. Farmers are adept at using science to deal with all kinds of challenges, but they have their doubts about climate change. Jeff Pang

Can Australian farmers take on the challenge of climate change?

Farmers are some of the most innovative Australians - since 1970 they have lost 7.5% of arable land, but they’ve found ways to increase production by 220%. They’re also some of the most conservative, expressed…
Darkness visible: we’re driving animals to extinction, burning through resources, and throwing out natural balances, yet consumption still reigns. Darkness visible: we’re driving animals to extinction, burning through resources, and throwing out natural balances, yet consumption still reigns. Flickr/NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

State of the future: challenge one; sustainable development and climate change

State of the Future 2012, a quick introduction What is the “state of the future”? How successfully are we tackling global challenges threatening our collective future? These questions are asked annually…
The recent climate-related deaths of tracts of Western Australian forest go beyond a green issue. The recent climate-related deaths of tracts of Western Australian forest go beyond a green issue. George Matusick

Western Australia’s catastrophic forest collapse

Recent, unprecedented, climate-driven forest collapses in Western Australia show us that ecosystem change can be sudden, dramatic and catastrophic. These collapses are a clear signal that we must develop…
Back, sperm, back: a human egg on the tip of a pin. Back, sperm, back: a human egg on the tip of a pin. Flickr/wellcome images

Squaring up to difficult truths: how to reduce the population

Elephants in the room, part two For all our schemes and mantras about making our lives environmentally “sustainable”, humanity’s assault on the planet not only continues but expands. What are the deep…
China’s emissions keep increasing, but it’s burning less fuel for every increase in GDP. China’s emissions keep increasing, but it’s burning less fuel for every increase in GDP. Bert van Dijk

IEA reveals emissions are up again, but it’s not all bad news

The numbers are just in. At a time when we need to be urgently reducing our CO₂ emissions, we are now emitting more than at any time in human history. However, it’s not too late to turn things around…
It’s not just greenhouse gases that affect climate: other air pollution could be changing atmospheric circulation. It’s not just greenhouse gases that affect climate: other air pollution could be changing atmospheric circulation. NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Poleward-shifting climate zones - where are they headed and why?

The Earth’s principal climatic zones appear to be shifting poleward. If this continues, as climate models project, the weather patterns that give rise to deserts in the subtropics, and stormy wet weather…
We’re just coming to grips with Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, one of the many climate modes that cause Australia’s wide and wonderful range of climate variability. We’re just coming to grips with Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, one of the many climate modes that cause Australia’s wide and wonderful range of climate variability. mattharvey1/Flickr

Decade to decade changes in our climate – what’s really going on?

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
We all know moving is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t want to go. But it can still be a positive decision. We all know moving is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t want to go. But it can still be a positive decision. United Nations

Environmental migrants: victims, or heroes of adaptation?

Who are the “climate change migrants” we hear about with increasing regularity in the media and in global and regional policy forums? Are they the victims of devastating environmental forces - the result…
The climate system operates with a range of discrete modes. The climate system operates with a range of discrete modes. Patrick Hoesly

Explainer: climate modes and drought

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
Scientists' job is to brief us on how future climate might affect our lives, even when all the data isn’t in. Scientists' job is to brief us on how future climate might affect our lives, even when all the data isn’t in. Rae Allen

Droughts & flooding rains: what is due to climate change?

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. The days of ‘sit down, shut up and do your science’ are over. Today’s students ask hard questions. University of Iowa

Teaching kids to think critically about climate

Two recently published books suggest that the public - and school children in particular - are being fed lies about environmental issues such as climate change. The books - “How to Get Expelled from School…
Rain’s coming: does that mean there’s no such thing as climate change? Rain’s coming: does that mean there’s no such thing as climate change? Georgie Sharp

A land of (more extreme) droughts and flooding rains?

While most people now understand that the enhanced greenhouse effect means a much warmer planet, communicating regional shifts in weather remains a significant challenge. As with most complex science…
One of the benefits of using the health frame is that it makes the issues more tangible – here and now and about people, not just polar bears. One of the benefits of using the health frame is that it makes the issues more tangible – here and now and about people, not just polar bears. Roderick Eime/AAP

Reframing climate change could deliver health benefits

Climate change is a complex problem but appears to many people as lacking immediate impact on their lives. Reconceptualising it as a health issue may allow for both better understanding of the issue and…
Cows' methane emissions can be measured with lasers, but it’s not that easy to measure emissions from an extinct sauropod. Cows' methane emissions can be measured with lasers, but it’s not that easy to measure emissions from an extinct sauropod. Mark Witton

How do you make a dinosaur burp in a bag? Measuring prehistoric methane

Last week my colleagues and I published a paper showing how methane emitted by dinosaurs could have affected the world’s climate. The media response was huge, with 100+ interviews by email and phone, and…
Courageous dissent? “The MTC is patting itself on the back for staging The Heretic. But the MTC is not being bold … it is being cowardly.” Courageous dissent? “The MTC is patting itself on the back for staging The Heretic. But the MTC is not being bold … it is being cowardly.” Flickr/Carlton Browne

Heretic: Melbourne Theatre Company runs with the goons

Who would have thought the Melbourne Theatre Company would get into bed with Andrew Bolt? The MTC’s new play The Heretic, which premieres on 17 May, tells the story of climate scientist Dr Diane Cassell…
We need to know more about how ice sheets interact with the warming oceans and warming atmosphere. We need to know more about how ice sheets interact with the warming oceans and warming atmosphere. Greenpeace/ADavies

Improving sea-level projections

Satellite and in situ observations show sea level is continuing to rise. In the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, earth system model projections indicated global sea-level rise by…
Knocking down forests and planting palm oil makes sense in Asia. Providing alternative income sources for villagers could make it less attractive. Knocking down forests and planting palm oil makes sense in Asia. Providing alternative income sources for villagers could make it less attractive. Simon J. Rowntree

Forestry, economic development & climate change in Asia: resolving the tension

Reducing poverty in developing countries through economic development is often contrary to addressing climate change. In countries like Indonesia, many of the strongest drivers of the economy – palm oil…
People put up all kinds of psychological barriers to changing their minds. People put up all kinds of psychological barriers to changing their minds. Thomas Galvez

No one likes to change their mind, not even on climate

Last night’s ABC documentary I Can Change Your Mind About Climate was about two people — conservative former politician Nick Minchin and youth activist Anna Rose — exposing themselves to information that…
Lovelock’s recent statements on climate change don’t seem to take account of the latest data. Lovelock’s recent statements on climate change don’t seem to take account of the latest data. Jonathan Cobb

James Lovelock’s climate change U-turn

Recent statements by James Lovelock, the distinguished physicist, are not easy to reconcile with his statements, writings and books over the years, including The Vanishing Face of Gaia; The Revenge of…
Across Asia, climate change could cut agriculture in half by 2030. What will Australia do to help? Across Asia, climate change could cut agriculture in half by 2030. What will Australia do to help? Gabriele Quaglia

As Asia faces climate change upheaval, how will Australia respond?

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Dr Tim Stephens looks at how…
A successful gamble on climate will require more than a lucky guess. A successful gamble on climate will require more than a lucky guess. kfergos/Flickr

If you want to roll the climate dice, you should know the odds

Imagine a six-sided die with four red faces, one green face and one blue face. I am going to roll the die, and before rolling I will ask you to predict which colour it will land on: red, green or blue…
Tiny humans would consume less and emit less, but who’s ready to genetically engineer their kids? Tiny humans would consume less and emit less, but who’s ready to genetically engineer their kids? Dylan Luder

No modest proposal: bioengineering humans for global warming

You know the situation is getting desperate when three bio-ethicists propose genetically modifying humans to reduce our environmental impact. In a bizarre paper titled Human engineering and climate change…
Humanity’s control of fire has led to a vastly changed atmosphere. Humanity’s control of fire has led to a vastly changed atmosphere. Jason A Samfield

The discovery of fire: initial steps toward anthropogenic climate change

The evidence for a rapid shift in state of the terrestrial atmosphere-ocean system over the last two centuries (see figure 1) requires a deep time perspective, beyond events of the day. Tracing the original…
Questions of planetary power: a mere 0.3% of transnational corporations control 40% of global revenue. Questions of planetary power: a mere 0.3% of transnational corporations control 40% of global revenue. Flickr/paul (dex)

Planet under Pressure 2012: here’s the wrap

The Planet Under Pressure 2012 Conference was held in London a fortnight back and released the first State of the Planet Declaration. The conference aim was to set out the science (in a broad sense) in…
Their jobs may not be as glamorous as digging up ore or building cars, but public servants' work on protecting Australia from climate change is even more important. Their jobs may not be as glamorous as digging up ore or building cars, but public servants' work on protecting Australia from climate change is even more important. Natural Step Online

Climate change isn’t over yet, so why are we cutting climate change jobs?

Yesterday’s announcement that one-third of jobs in the Department of Climate Change will be cut is yet another step back in the ALP’s half-hearted dance with climate change policy. Former Prime Minister…
Who’s responsible for this? Better disaster law could answer that question. Who’s responsible for this? Better disaster law could answer that question. AAP

Climate change, catastrophic risk and disaster law

On 28 March the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its full report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The IPCC’s essential…
Studies of prehistoric climate change in Victoria’s western lakes imply that future changes might not be smooth. Studies of prehistoric climate change in Victoria’s western lakes imply that future changes might not be smooth. Dacre Smith's painting of Lake Gnotuk, from Views of Victoria in the steps of von Guerard.

Rapid warming in SE Australia challenges plans to adapt gradually

Step changes in warming of a few tenths to 1°C can produce rapid changes in risks such as extreme heat and fire danger. Yet, adaptation-planning that follows the dominant model of smooth climate change…
Our teeming attack on the natural world threatens to turn the wilderness into a fetish item. Our teeming attack on the natural world threatens to turn the wilderness into a fetish item. AAP/The Wilderness Society

Squaring up to difficult truths: population and the environment

Elephants in the room, part one For all our schemes and mantras about making this or that part of our lives environmentally “sustainable”, humanity’s assault on the planet not only continues but expands…
The ALP should be talking about getting a headstart on the industries of the future. The ALP should be talking about getting a headstart on the industries of the future. AAP

Building a new nation: a better way to tell the story of climate change

One of the arts of politics is storytelling, establishing a narrative that people can engage with. It is why politicians often talk about great teachers when explaining education reform, cancer patients…
The long-term warming trend has not changed. The long-term warming trend has not changed. Guillaume Brialon

State of the Climate 2012

Australia’s land and oceans have continued to warm in response to rising CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. This is the headline finding in the State of the Climate 2012, an updated summary…
Climate change is coming - do we plan to just carry on regardless? Climate change is coming - do we plan to just carry on regardless? AAP

We can’t prevent climate change, so what should we do?

When thinking of the challenges we face in responding to climate change, it is time to admit that our political focus has been fairly narrow: limiting emissions and moving beyond carbon-based energy systems…
When it comes to addressing climate change, the Green Climate Fund falls drastically short. When it comes to addressing climate change, the Green Climate Fund falls drastically short. AAP

Forget Kyoto – climate bonds will drive the green revolution

If no-one argues against the proposition that it was capitalism that created the global warming problem, then no one can argue that it must therefore be capitalism that will solve the problem. But how…
Australia’s revised dietary guidelines must consider environmental sustainability. Australia’s revised dietary guidelines must consider environmental sustainability. Wonderlane

Climate change and obesity – eating for the health of the planet

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is currently revising the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Yet, despite expert advice from public health and environmental sustainability groups…
For whom the bell tolls: a Little Penguin. For whom the bell tolls: a Little Penguin. Belinda Cannell

Grim reaper cuts swathes through the Little Penguins of Perth

Little Penguins off the coast of Perth are being found dead - starved, battered, and in some cases almost completely beheaded - as elements both natural and manmade conspire against them. Penguin Island…
You have to go back to the time of the dinosaurs to see where Earth is heading. You have to go back to the time of the dinosaurs to see where Earth is heading. Mr Kimberley/Flickr

Is another mass extinction event on the way?

Why have mass extinctions of species occurred since the late Proterozoic (from 580 million years ago) and repeatedly through the Phanerozoic? Integral to these extinctions were abrupt changes in the physical…
Uncertainty exists – but that’s no excuse for a lack of action. Uncertainty exists – but that’s no excuse for a lack of action. @Doug88888

Hot and bothered: the uncertain mathematics of global warming

These are painful times for those hoping to see an international consensus and substantive action on global warming. In the US, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said in June 2011: “The…
Art reflects back the crisis we’ve created. Art reflects back the crisis we’ve created. Simon Hennessey: Sunset over Metropolis

Can art change minds where science can’t?

“Artists are shape-shifters and in this there is a perennial, ferocious hope; the hope which transforms, which whispers of possibility, of vision, of change and radical healing. Existing art about climate…
Warmer temperatures mean more female than male turtles, but it’s not all good news for the guys. Warmer temperatures mean more female than male turtles, but it’s not all good news for the guys. Dave Scriven

Bachelor’s paradise: how will sea turtles cope with climate change?

Many species have dubious futures in the face of climate change. But sea turtles have a particularly pressing problem: their sex is determined by temperature. Australia has ecologically and culturally…
More fossil fuel is out there, but if policy doesn’t stop us, physics will. More fossil fuel is out there, but if policy doesn’t stop us, physics will. EvolveLove/Flickr

Can technology save us? Reality-checking Andrew Charlton’s Quarterly Essay

In his recent Quarterly Essay, Man-made world: choosing between progress and planet, economist Andrew Charlton presents technological innovation as the solution to climate change and the route to unbounded…
It’s time to pay attention to warnings from the Arctic. It’s time to pay attention to warnings from the Arctic. NOAA Photo Library

Teetering on a tipping point: dangerous climate change in the Arctic

We are seeing the first signs of dangerous climate change in the Arctic. This is our warning that humanity is facing a dire future. The Arctic region is fast approaching a series of “tipping points” that…
‘Concerned scientists’ say, relax, climate change not so bad after all. ‘Concerned scientists’ say, relax, climate change not so bad after all. Yukon White Light/Flickr

We do need drastic action on climate change: a response to the Wall Street Journal

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a letter from “16 concerned scientists”, telling the world we don’t need to worry so much about climate change. Unsurprisingly, the opinion piece has been picked…
Shouldn’t we try harder to stop runaway climate change? Shouldn’t we try harder to stop runaway climate change? AAP

Durban did too little: here are alternatives to the UN process

In the month and a half since the Durban climate change conference it has been said that the “international climate process” has been “strengthened” and that Durban resulted in “the means and the ends…
If speaking up helps avoid devastating bushfires, scientists should take the risk. If speaking up helps avoid devastating bushfires, scientists should take the risk. AAP

Will climate change increase bushfires? Not knowing is no excuse for not talking

Scientists are increasingly expected to engage with the media to communicate their findings. My research leads me to believe Hobart is at risk from a severe bushfire disaster – but what are my responsibilities…
An ice-free world isn’t impossible – even though it seems the stuff of science fiction. An ice-free world isn’t impossible – even though it seems the stuff of science fiction. Alistair Knock

As emissions rise, we may be heading for an ice-free planet

Last December’s meeting of the American Geophysical Union featured three of the world’s leading climate scientists: James Hansen (NASA’s chief climate scientist), Elco Rohling (National Oceanography Centre…
We should decide how to act based on how risky something is, and how bad the consequences will be. We should decide how to act based on how risky something is, and how bad the consequences will be. dybarber/Flickr

Responsible scientific advice about climate change is not scaremongering

A popular misconception in the public mind is that science “proves” things by turning them from ideas and theories into absolute “facts”. This more or less confuses science with mathematics. Mathematical…
We know Aboriginal fires affected Australian vegetation, but now we have evidence they altered the monsoon too. We know Aboriginal fires affected Australian vegetation, but now we have evidence they altered the monsoon too. ciamabue/Flickr

How Aboriginal burning changed Australia’s climate

For thousands of years, Aboriginal Australians burned forests to promote grasslands for hunting and other purposes. Recent research suggests that these burning practices also affected the timing and intensity…
As the days get warmer, cool-climate wineries like those in McLaren Vale SA, are bound to struggle. As the days get warmer, cool-climate wineries like those in McLaren Vale SA, are bound to struggle. Dave Clarke

Developing a taste for Sagrantino: climate change and Australia’s wine industry

As the climate gets warmer, growing conditions and ripening times of crops will be affected. This raises all kinds of challenges for food security, but as we hit the festive season you may also be wondering…
Forest agreements were among the positives from Durban. Forest agreements were among the positives from Durban. CIFOR

Deforestation agreements - a climate change success story, sort of …

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Amongst the general brouhaha of the Durban Climate Change Conference, progress of sorts on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, plus measures…
The Green Climate Fund needs to attract developed countries' money with a few nest eggs. The Green Climate Fund needs to attract developed countries' money with a few nest eggs. CaptPiper

Empty shell or nest egg: what next for climate finance after Durban?

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: One of the main achievements of the Durban climate change conference was establishing the Green Climate Fund. This is expected to channel a fair amount of the US$100 billion…
Removing CO₂ from a power station is very different from removing it from the atmosphere. Removing CO₂ from a power station is very different from removing it from the atmosphere. ianrthorpe

There’s more than one way to capture carbon

In his latest article for The Conversation Dr. David Karoly reports on the proceedings of a recent Canberra symposium on “Geo-engineering the Climate”. In his article, Dr. Karoly presents an insightful…
It takes just two generations to adapt to warmer ocean temperatures. It takes just two generations to adapt to warmer ocean temperatures. Jennifer Donelson

The oceans are getting warmer, but tropical reef fish could acclimate

The average temperature of the oceans has already increased significantly due to global warming and will continue to warm rapidly in coming decades. If we are going to effectively manage and conserve fish…
A Green Climate Fund could help African livestock farmers. A Green Climate Fund could help African livestock farmers. International Livestock Research Institute

Planning the Green Climate Fund so it works for African farmers

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: With a backdrop of global financial woes and the European Union’s debt crisis, the Conference of the Parties at Durban convened with lower expectations but high stakes…
In northern Australia, the state of the environment has improved. In northern Australia, the state of the environment has improved. pallotron/Flickr

Australia’s environment takes its five-yearly health check

Every five years the Australian Government must report on how our environment and heritage are fairing. The 2011 State of the Environment Report gives Australians the clearest and most comprehensive assessment…
Climate change will mean more natural disasters: let’s not be cynical about planning for them. Climate change will mean more natural disasters: let’s not be cynical about planning for them. AAP

Emergency Management at the cabinet table long overdue

Much of the commentary surrounding the Prime Minister’s new-look cabinet has focused on the promotion of her loyal lieutenants, Bill Shorten and Mark Arbib, and Nicola Roxon’s elevation to the Attorney-General…
Protesters have a point: big polluters' approach to patents isn’t helping developing nations clean up. Protesters have a point: big polluters' approach to patents isn’t helping developing nations clean up. Tck, Tck, Tck

Climate justice for intellectual property at Durban

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: In a global day of action for climate justice, thousands of protestors complained about the slow progress in international debates on climate change at the United Nations…
Could more plantations help reduce emissions? It depends if they’re done right. Could more plantations help reduce emissions? It depends if they’re done right. esagor

Forest carbon and the Durban climate conference

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: One of the topics under discussion at Durban is the role carbon farming and other forestry measures could have in reducing emissions. With the possibility that negotiations…
Eleven FA Cups is good news for the Red Devils, but is it bad news for the climate? Eleven FA Cups is good news for the Red Devils, but is it bad news for the climate? freefoto.com

How David Beckham caused global warming: the Man U climate model

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: With the UN Climate Conference underway in Durban, climate “sceptics” have been particularly active in the media and blogs. Many climate “sceptics” claim that alternate…
Energy production worldwide has become even more reliant on coal. Energy production worldwide has become even more reliant on coal. Joost J Bakker IJmuiden

The emissions juggernaut rolls on, and everybody is on board

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: A paper published yesterday shows global industrial emissions of carbon dioxide, overwhelmingly from fossil fuels, jumped by 5.9% from 2009 to 2010. This is a big increase…
New climate institutions are finally putting Australia on track to meet its Kyoto obligations. New climate institutions are finally putting Australia on track to meet its Kyoto obligations. amandabhslater

Getting closer to our climate obligations: Australia’s legislation for change

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Australia’s new climate legislation is a historic breakthrough reform for the nation. Putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions ranks alongside any of the “big” reforms…
Australian newspapers took a largely negative view of carbon pricing. Australian newspapers took a largely negative view of carbon pricing. avlxyz/Flickr

Carbon pricing policy in the media

While corporate media often criticise the poor communication of others, they are reluctant to critique their own power to influence public opinion and debate. Today the Australian Centre for Independent…
With the number of days over 35 degrees expected to rise, Australia can expect a rise in heat-related deaths and illness. With the number of days over 35 degrees expected to rise, Australia can expect a rise in heat-related deaths and illness. Miki

Australians can’t ignore the health impacts of climate change

Climate change is already harming Australians’ health and poses a significant threat for the future, according to a report released today by the Climate Commission. The Critical Decade: Climate Change…
No new climate dawn at Durban? It’s not the end of the world. No new climate dawn at Durban? It’s not the end of the world. Andrew Roos

And what if nothing happens at Durban?

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Progress towards a binding international agreement on targets to tackle global warming has been more than glacial. Yet despite growing alarm among the climate science…
Geo-engineering should be a last resort; there are better steps we can take first. Geo-engineering should be a last resort; there are better steps we can take first. Truthout.org

Talking about geo-engineering may prevent us needing it

A lack of global action to combat climate change is forcing scientists to explore measures that might have been considered unethical a decade ago. With carbon dioxide emissions tracking at the high end…
The scandal isn’t the emails, it’s the hacking. The scandal isn’t the emails, it’s the hacking. UN Climate Change

There is a real climategate out there

Emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit have once again been hacked and released on the internet. The timing is similar to the “climategate” scandal of 2009, with emails published…
When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. When it comes to weather, scientists and the media have different understandings of risk. Ameel Khan

Spinning uncertainty? The IPCC extreme weather report and the media

The “reasonable person” would agree that disaster risk is best avoided. Under a changing climate, how exposed people are to risk and how socially and physically vulnerable they are affects how often disasters…
Increasing population and climate change will make it even harder for the world to feed itself. Increasing population and climate change will make it even harder for the world to feed itself. Gates Foundation

Feeding Africa: Australian knowledge helps meet a continent’s climate change challenges

The world’s population has just hit seven billion and nearly one billion people do not get enough to eat. Agricultural land is being degraded at the rate of 12 million hectares a year and the world faces…
Politicians who try to act on climate change face a gargantuan struggle. Politicians who try to act on climate change face a gargantuan struggle. Truthout.org

Standing on the outside looking in: a Washington insider reviews the carbon tax

Roy Neel is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University and a long-time staffer for former Vice-President Al Gore. Roy is in Australia as a Visiting International Fellow at the University…
The industry we already have is locking us in to a path of extreme warming. The industry we already have is locking us in to a path of extreme warming. Andreas Photography

International Energy Agency warns we’ve nearly lost our chance to limit warming

Last week the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its much-anticipated World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2011. Most notably, it warned that our chances to keep the world to 2°C of warming are fast slipping…
Environmentalists are getting off the streets and into the courts in an effort to stop coal. Environmentalists are getting off the streets and into the courts in an effort to stop coal. Takver

Dragging coal through the courts: an alternative emissions-reduction strategy

The bill creating the carbon price has passed through Parliament. However, the campaigning efforts of the environmental lobby will not pause. More than ever, the coal industry is in its sights, with court…
There’s a lot of detail in the carbon price legislation, but it comes down to six key points. There’s a lot of detail in the carbon price legislation, but it comes down to six key points. Australian Government

Explainer: Australia’s carbon price mechanism in six dot points

Australia’s carbon price mechanism has become law. But how does it work? There are six key points: 1. Australia’s emissions trajectory Australia has committed unconditionally to reduce its greenhouse gas…
The media can’t get enough of the controversy whipped up by climate sceptics. The media can’t get enough of the controversy whipped up by climate sceptics. Mat McDermott

Improving climate change reportage – a must for the media enquiry

When announcing the media enquiry in September this year, Senator Conroy committed to regulatory processes that support “a healthy and independent media that is able to fulfill its essential democratic…
Passing the carbon price through the Senate is a victory, but there is plenty yet to be done. Passing the carbon price through the Senate is a victory, but there is plenty yet to be done. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Celebrate a carbon tax, then take three steps to a zero carbon Australia

At long last, the Gillard Government’s carbon price is law. On July 1 next year, approximately 500 of our biggest companies will start paying the government $23 for every tonne of greenhouse gas they emit…
Coral bleaching is a serious issue, but we’re learning how reefs can best recover. Coral bleaching is a serious issue, but we’re learning how reefs can best recover. AFP/Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Back from the bleach – how isolation helps coral reefs recover

Coral reefs around the world are under pressure from multiple threats. A burgeoning gas industry – such as that near Gladstone – is one of the newest of these. Pollution, sedimentation, declining water…
It looks delicious, but is a diet free of red meat better for the planet? It looks delicious, but is a diet free of red meat better for the planet? stu spivack

Could your diet save the planet?

By now most of us have read articles suggesting we “eat less red meat and save the planet”. Some may also have heard statements by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra…
A blimp-like balloon can be used to pump particles into the upper atmosphere. A blimp-like balloon can be used to pump particles into the upper atmosphere.

Geo-engineering: why research something we never want to use?

What if the world left it too long to take action on global climate change? Is there a way we could somehow cool the planet before an environmental crisis occurs? Geo-engineering is a potential course…
Taxing international aviation emissions could help pay our climate change bill. Taxing international aviation emissions could help pay our climate change bill. Flickr/FatMandy

Cutting subsidies to fossil fuels could help Australia meet its financial climate commitments

Wealthy countries have committed to mobilise up to $US100 billion a year by 2020 for climate change action in developing countries. This is almost as much as the total amount of aid provided globally each…
Is Australia playing big brother to Pacific nations, or the school-yard bully? Is Australia playing big brother to Pacific nations, or the school-yard bully? CHOGM

That sinking feeling: will the Pacific be heard at CHOGM 2011?

CHOGM: As the leaders of Commonwealth nations prepare to meet in Perth this week, The Conversation is examining the role of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Meeting. In our second…
Water, habitat and tourist dollars: the Alps provide it all. Water, habitat and tourist dollars: the Alps provide it all. Jane Rawson

We need our Alps, so why aren’t we looking after them?

The Australian Alps cover some 1.64 million hectares, 0.3% of the Australian continent. Included on the National Heritage register, they are of major environmental significance and home to rare and endangered…
Tuvaluans' home and their human rights are threatened by climate change. Tuvaluans' home and their human rights are threatened by climate change. AAP

Human rights or climate wrongs: is Tuvalu the canary in the coal mine?

The Pacific Island State of Tuvalu recently reported that it had just days of water supply left for its population of 10,000. The Government has declared a state of emergency and rationed each household…
The planet is struggling to survive democracy, but the only alternative is to improve it. The planet is struggling to survive democracy, but the only alternative is to improve it. Truthout.org/Flickr

Democracy is failing the planet

The carbon tax bills passed by the Australian House of Representatives on October 12 were a small vindication of climate science. But we should be concerned about the corpses of science, reason and expertise…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulates Kevin Rudd as the carbon pricing package passes the lower house. Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulates Kevin Rudd as the carbon pricing package passes the lower house. AAP

The carbon pricing package passes - what now for business?

Australian businesses are facing a significant new policy regime with the passing of the Federal Government’s controversial emissions trading legislative package through the House of Representatives. As…
CERN’s work casts light on cloud formation, but might not have much to say about climate change. CERN’s work casts light on cloud formation, but might not have much to say about climate change. Taivasalla

Do cosmic rays influence climate? Some new results from CERN

Physicists at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) created something of an online kerfuffle last month when they sought to improve our understanding of cosmic rays and clouds. While their…
A reduction in Arctic sea ice isn’t just a problem for polar bears, it’s a problem for all of us. A reduction in Arctic sea ice isn’t just a problem for polar bears, it’s a problem for all of us. Carlos Duarte

Loss of Arctic sea ice: don’t let the GFC distract you, climate change is happening

A few weeks ago, NASA announced that the area of Arctic ice is now almost as low as it was in 2007, its historic minimum. The extent of ice has reduced to 4.33 million km² compared to the mean (1979 to…
What is Australia’s responsibility for low-lying neighbours like Palau? What is Australia’s responsibility for low-lying neighbours like Palau? CasaDeQueso

See you in court: the rising tide of international climate litigation

The Pacific Island State of Palau recently announced it will seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asking whether countries have a responsibility to avoid their emissions…
The climate change “debate” bears the stains of Orwellian interference. The climate change “debate” bears the stains of Orwellian interference. Truthout.org

An Orwellian climate

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts” – Senator Daniel Moynihan Science is a systematic, evidence-based, testable and self-correcting way of investigating the world. This…
As Australia gets warmer and drier, koalas will struggle to survive. As Australia gets warmer and drier, koalas will struggle to survive. JSFauxtography

Koalas, people and climate change: not a good mix

On 22 September, a Senate inquiry released its report, The koala - saving our national icon. The inquiry made 19 recommendations, and called for more funding for koala research. The environment minister…
Grape growers are already suffering emotional stress because of climate change. Grape growers are already suffering emotional stress because of climate change. ryanovineyards/Flickr

Positive mental health key to tackling rural climate change

Mental health has been an issue in rural areas for the past few decades. Climate change will only add more stress to the lives of rural people. While a report by the Climate Institute shows broad scale…
Science follows certain procedures, but does the media get the signal? Science follows certain procedures, but does the media get the signal? CSIRO

Diamond planets, climate change and the scientific method

Recently my colleagues and I announced the discovery of a remarkable planet orbiting a special kind of star known as a pulsar. Based on the planet’s density, and the likely history of its system, we concluded…
Taking on climate change can put us on the path to a green industrial revolution. Taking on climate change can put us on the path to a green industrial revolution. Matt de Neef

Treading the economic path to green growth

Despite the poor outlook for the Earth’s climate, putting in place acceptable solutions is proving difficult. Mired in economic uncertainty, some countries are scaling back climate change efforts. But…
The planet is warming up but a carbon price is not the way to help. The planet is warming up but a carbon price is not the way to help. Flickr/Pilottage

Climate change: it’s inevitable, we have to adapt, let’s spend wisely

The world is getting warmer and wetter, almost undoubtedly due to the fact that we are burning up fossil fuels at an incredible rate. While this change in our climate will lead to some positive opportunities…
Sections of the Australian media are tipping the debate in the wrong direction. Sections of the Australian media are tipping the debate in the wrong direction. Digitalnative

Scientists vs farmers? How the media threw the climate ‘debate’ off balance

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Natalie Latter wonders if there are some subjects that don’t really require balance. There’s a principle of balance that applies to news reporting. It’s important for journalists…
We should rely on scientists, not beach-goers to inform us about sea level predictions. We should rely on scientists, not beach-goers to inform us about sea level predictions. kennymatic

Bad tidings: reporting on sea level rise in Australia is all washed up

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Tim Lambert wants to know why we’re always asking a man in Speedos for his expert opinion. There is a scientific consensus on global warming – 97% of active climatologists agree…
The Australian’s coverage of climate changed is seriously warped. The Australian’s coverage of climate changed is seriously warped. AFP PHOTO/ NASA - CXC/ A. HOBART

Event horizon: the black hole in The Australian’s climate change coverage

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Michael Ashley investigates the national paper’s op-ed policy. The “event horizon” of a black hole is one of the most mind-boggling concepts in astrophysics. The black hole’s stupendous…
Mass bleaching at the Keppel Islands in 2006. Our greatest natural asset is under threat, but you wouldn’t know it from reading Andrew Bolt. Mass bleaching at the Keppel Islands in 2006. Our greatest natural asset is under threat, but you wouldn’t know it from reading Andrew Bolt. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

Drowning out the truth about the Great Barrier Reef

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Ove Hoegh-Guldberg dives into the media’s coverage of an Australian icon’s future. One of the most straightforward climate change storylines is the link between global warming and…
A long-term threat of natural disaster is likely to increase rates of anxiety among young people. A long-term threat of natural disaster is likely to increase rates of anxiety among young people. AAP

Act now on climate change to protect Australians' mental health

In September 2010, BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers proposed Australia take action on climate change before the rest of the world to maintain its international economic competitiveness. A report released…
CO₂ has the longest residence time, but reducing other GHGs can help us achieve our targets. CO₂ has the longest residence time, but reducing other GHGs can help us achieve our targets. AAP

When it comes to greenhouse gases carbon dioxide isn’t the only culprit

Most of the discussion about slowing the impact of climate change has focussed on reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But carbon dioxide isn’t the only greenhouse gas. Methane, halocarbons and nitric oxide…
The media does the public a disservice when it misrepresents climate change. The media does the public a disservice when it misrepresents climate change. danny birchall

Selling climate uncertainty: misinformation and the media

MEDIA & DEMOCRACY - Today, The Conversation launches a week-long series, looking at how the media influences the way our representatives develop policy. To kick off, Stephan Lewandowsky asks how media…
Coral reefs may cease to exist – where will their inhabitants go? Coral reefs may cease to exist – where will their inhabitants go? Nick Hobgood

Species affected by climate change: to shift or not to shift?

Human-induced climatic changes are altering ecosystems worldwide. Because of these ecosystem changes, the geographic range of species is shifting towards the poles or to higher elevations. The speed of…
Evolution was put on trial: let’s get climate change in the dock. Evolution was put on trial: let’s get climate change in the dock.

The Jones weightless, invisible gas trial

On the weekend of 12-13 August the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party passed a resolution calling for a Royal Commission into the science of climate change. Apparently the party members are…
Improved modelling will help predict future climatic events, like changing summer rainfall. Improved modelling will help predict future climatic events, like changing summer rainfall. AAP

Getting projections right: predicting future climate

Region by region projections of how climate is likely to change over the coming decades help to make the prospect of global warming more tangible and relevant. Picturing the climate we are likely to have…
Spoilt for choice: neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard are inspiring climate leaders. Spoilt for choice: neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard are inspiring climate leaders. AAP

The courage to lead: Gillard, Abbott and the climate change conundrum

Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have staked their political futures on their climate policies. So perhaps they should also be asking what the hallmarks are of a climate leader? The German political…
Australia was shocked when the city of Canberra burned, but are we better prepared now? Australia was shocked when the city of Canberra burned, but are we better prepared now? AAP

As the climate shifts, are Australian cities ready?

Climate change challenges some of the fundamental assumptions on which our cities have been built. Within a generation or two, a city like Sydney may become exposed to a climate that is more similar to…
Simple seagrass can answer some complex climate problems. Simple seagrass can answer some complex climate problems. Joanne Saad

Our home is girt by sea; our land abounds in nature’s carbon sinks

Reducing carbon emissions is necessary, but what about the carbon that has already been released into the atmosphere? Many countries are turning to “biosequestration” for the answers: using nature - including…
Increased frequencies and intensities of some extreme weather events are very likely. Increased frequencies and intensities of some extreme weather events are very likely. Zanthia/Flickr

Explainer: what we know and don’t know about climate change

Most Australians believe that climate change is real and want to learn more about it, but the debate in the media and on the internet makes it difficult for lay people to know who and what to believe…
Finding the right road to adaptation is a complicated business. Finding the right road to adaptation is a complicated business. Shrek Graham/Flickr

Adapting to climate change: how will we learn to do it?

Looking back over recent years, it is possible to trace a shifting focus of scientific and political attention in the debate on climate change. First, we identified human-induced forcing of climate change…
Bush fires are just the start of the problems we’ll see in a world four degrees warmer. Bush fires are just the start of the problems we’ll see in a world four degrees warmer. Sean Marshall/flickr

Are you ready for a four degree world?

In mid-July, as Prime Minister Gillard began to stump the countryside selling her carbon package, a conference at the University of Melbourne considered the prospect of climate policy failure. Climate…
Technology can save fuel and cut emissions, so why not drive more? Technology can save fuel and cut emissions, so why not drive more? me2myself/Flickr

Why tech fixes - even when they’re ‘green’ - can make matters worse

Antibiotics cure many diseases, but also lead to resistant bacteria. The rise of computers, far from inaugurating the paperless office, increased office paper use. The unintended consequences of our actions…
Polar bears are at the centre of a scientific fracas in the US. Polar bears are at the centre of a scientific fracas in the US. AAP

Polar bear scientist on thin ice in Arctic imbroglio

Something does not add up. About two weeks ago, a scientist working for the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation (BOEMRE), Dr Charles Monnett, was placed on administrative leave…
Ocean acidification is most acute in the polar regions. Ocean acidification is most acute in the polar regions. Enzofloyd/flickr

Explainer: why ocean acidification is the ‘evil twin’ of climate change

Ocean acidification is often referred to as the “evil twin” of climate change. Greenhouse gasses are doing more than just warming the globe. Increasing C0₂ levels are also changing the chemical make-up…
Our weather systems are changing as the world warms. Our weather systems are changing as the world warms. Satoru Kikuchi/flickr

The Faustian bargain – while we debate the numbers, the planet suffers

Speaking on the ABC, Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate science advisor of the German Government, made a point even the least-informed should be able to understand. “Our body temperature…
Looks the same to me… our personal experiences are not the best indicators of change. Looks the same to me… our personal experiences are not the best indicators of change. P León/flickr

Climate change, personal experience and the vagaries of memory

We see it in the media all the time. Regular beachgoers who see no evidence for sea-level rise, farmers trusting long-term experience over Bureau of Meteorology forecasting, Antarctic sea-captains whose…
Julia Gillard can sell the tax better if she puts it in terms of the natural wonders we are buying back. Julia Gillard can sell the tax better if she puts it in terms of the natural wonders we are buying back. AAP

The perception paradox: understanding risk is key to selling the carbon tax

Science is strengthening its view that business-as-usual emissions of greenhouse gases will result in serious risks while the Australian public’s perception of climate change as a risk erodes. A recent…
Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP. Are these the sorts of speakers you go to a university to hear? AAP.

Why academics should steer clear of public debate

The most important issue raised by Lord Monckton’s controversial appearance on two Western Australian campuses is not the limit of free speech or Monckton’s scientific competence. Rather it is whether…
All the energy in our climate comes from the sun: it’s bound to have an influence. All the energy in our climate comes from the sun: it’s bound to have an influence. foxypar/Flickr

There’s always the sun: solar forcing and climate change

Climate science has now thoroughly outlined the risk associated with increasing greenhouse gases. Significant and rapid warming of the climate system is now expected to occur over the next century and…
Al Gore’s launched a new campaign, but is anybody listening? Al Gore’s launched a new campaign, but is anybody listening? Juampe López/flickr

Who’s afraid of big, bad coal? Al Gore’s ‘climate reality’ is a pointless fairytale

With the momentum of his Inconvenient Truth gradually fading, Al Gore has launched a new climate change action campaign - the Climate Reality Project. The centrepiece of the campaign is a day of action…
Budgetary constraints and climate change are putting the Antarctic in peril. Budgetary constraints and climate change are putting the Antarctic in peril. AAP

Poles apart: Australia’s policy and responsibilities in Antarctica

Does Australia have strategic interests in Antarctica? Do we really think of the region as the “common heritage of mankind”? The Antarctic Treaty states that it is “in the interest of all mankind that…
Julia Gillard was confronted by a shopper about the government’s carbon tax. Julia Gillard was confronted by a shopper about the government’s carbon tax. AAP/Patrick Hamilton

Gillard’s carbon tax fightback evens up the playing field

Before the details of the carbon tax were released this week, the government was fighting with one hand tied behind its back. Sometimes it looked like it had both hands and feet manacled as Prime Minister…
The scientists are talking and the Prime Minister is nodding, but is she really listening? The scientists are talking and the Prime Minister is nodding, but is she really listening? AAP

Carbon tax plan is politically astute but profoundly inadequate

Amid the hullabaloo about the carbon tax and Clean Energy Future plan, few seem to spot its critical discrepancy. It recognises that maintaining a safe climate requires stabilising carbon pollution in…
Money is the key theme across the climate change debate: what happened to sustainability? Money is the key theme across the climate change debate: what happened to sustainability? louisa catlover/flickr

A clean energy future should be about more than money

The Government’s equation for creating a prosperous and sustainable Australia includes four key factors: carbon price, renewable energy, energy efficiency and land use efficiency. But it is evident that…
Scientific debate isn’t about ‘if’, but about ‘when’ and ‘how much’. Scientific debate isn’t about ‘if’, but about ‘when’ and ‘how much’. Matti Mattila/Flickr

Real climate debates: a report from the IUGG General Assembly

In 2100, will sea level be one metre higher than now, or only 50cm? The Thames Barrage is designed to protect London from flooding by storm surges in up to one in a thousand year events. With 50cm higher…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet address a press conference on Sunday. A carbon tax package announced today includes compensation measures and a radical overhaul of income tax policy. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet address a press conference on Sunday. A carbon tax package announced today includes compensation measures and a radical overhaul of income tax policy. ABC News24

The carbon tax: the experts respond

The Australian government announced on Sunday it would introduce a carbon tax at $23 a tonne next July, rising 2.5% annually plus inflation and moving to a market-based emissions trading scheme in 2015…
She’s got the book, but did she read it? Ross Garnaut explains the advice he gave. She’s got the book, but did she read it? Ross Garnaut explains the advice he gave. AAP

Ross Garnaut discusses the economics behind the carbon tax

Top Conversation author Professor Stephan Lewandowsky and former Western Australian Premier Carmen Lawrence were part of a group that sat down with Ross Garnaut during his recent visit to UWA. During the…
When we debate a carbon tax, how much thought are we giving to our fragile, drought-prone continent? When we debate a carbon tax, how much thought are we giving to our fragile, drought-prone continent? Raiden256/Flickr

The carbon tax and the ‘climate overboard affair’

As the old saying goes, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. On Sunday, the exhausting, almost decade-long battle to put a price on carbon pollution enters a new phase, when the MultiParty…
Will Steffen (left) in conversation with academic Will Grant (right): “The misinformation campaign that’s been prominent in the media … really is having an impact.” Will Steffen (left) in conversation with academic Will Grant (right): “The misinformation campaign that’s been prominent in the media … really is having an impact.”

Will Steffen: phoney debate is over, now for the carbon policy

Welcome to “In Conversation”, our series of discussions between leading academics and major public figures in Australian life. Today, we’re In Conversation with the academic whose research informed the…
Demanding climate data won’t provide a new window into global warming. Demanding climate data won’t provide a new window into global warming. nasa hq photo/flickr

Access to climate research data ordered

When it comes to obtaining research data, Canadian academic Steve Easterbrook said it best: “Any fool knows you don’t get data from a scientist by using FOI requests, you do it by stroking their ego a…
How we frame the climate change debate is important. How we frame the climate change debate is important. Modified image: HamishM/muffet/flickr

You’ve been framed: six new ways to understand climate change

Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia, the institution at the centre of “Climategate” and the focus of a recent data Freedom of Information request, responds to Clearing up the Climate Debate. There…
Can respondents make an informed response in an unexpected telephone poll? Can respondents make an informed response in an unexpected telephone poll? Esparta/Flickr

Polls, framings and public understandings: climate change and opinion polls

I, along with many Australians, listened to the news coverage on Monday morning of the Lowy Institute’s annual survey, with reasonable disappointment and initial surprise. This is a respected polling exercise…
Is stopping someone speaking ever the right approach? Is stopping someone speaking ever the right approach? sjgibbs80/Flickr

Monckton and Notre Dame: a case for free speech?

Is it wise to try to block a speech by Christopher Monckton? Are there other options? Monckton, a well known climate change sceptic, was invited to speak at Notre Dame University in Fremantle on 30 June…
Lord Monckton will appear at two Western Australian universities over the coming days. Lord Monckton will appear at two Western Australian universities over the coming days. AAP

University of Western Australia’s VC disowns Monckton event on campus

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Western Australia has distanced himself from climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton, who will appear on campus next Monday. Professor Alan Robson today…
Believe it or not, sulphur emissions are keeping us cooler. Believe it or not, sulphur emissions are keeping us cooler. lillicomanche/flickr

Beyond two degrees celsius: sulphur won’t save us for long

The Earth energy balance – the difference between energy/heat absorbed by the Earth from solar radiation and the energy/heat emitted back to space – is currently offset by the cooling effect of sulphur…
While the debate rages, the planet is changing. While the debate rages, the planet is changing. AAP

Clearing up the climate debate

The majority of the world’s climate scientists agree: climate change is real, we are causing it and it’s happening right now. Despite the scientific consensus, Australia is still deeply divided about what…
Don’t make me tell you again: some people have been talking about climate change for decades. Don’t make me tell you again: some people have been talking about climate change for decades. Barry Jones

Barry Jones: In climate change, everything old is new again

I can claim to be the oldest surviving inhabitant of the climate change controversy. I gave my first major speech (at least, I thought it was major) about the human contribution to climate change, especially…
We’d like someone to do something about climate change, but we’d rather it didn’t cost too much. We’d like someone to do something about climate change, but we’d rather it didn’t cost too much. shell belle/Flickr

What Australians really think about climate change

Current discussion in the news media highlights how polarised the issue of climate change has become. However, recent scientific research has shown that most Australians are sure about climate change and…
You’re not imagining it: hot days are hotter and there are more of them. You’re not imagining it: hot days are hotter and there are more of them. AAP

Record heatwaves not just a lot of hot air

Are the tornadoes in the USA, or the floods in Queensland and Victoria, or the record drought in southwest Australia, or the Russian heatwave of last year or western Europe in 2003, or Black Saturday…
Politicians would do well to ask the people for their views on climate change. Politicians would do well to ask the people for their views on climate change. AAP/Greg Wood

A novel idea on climate change: ask the people

The conduct of the Australian climate change debate was probably not what John Maynard Keynes had in mind when he proclaimed “words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the…
We’re putting Christopher Monckton’s scientific claims to the test. We’re putting Christopher Monckton’s scientific claims to the test. Don Irvine/flickr

Monckton watch: interrogating the Lord’s science

Christoper Monckton has returned to Australia where his unique brand of climate contrarianism is expected to get another good run in the media. At The Conversation, we’re giving him a run too, but of a…
Christopher Monckton deliberately misleads the public on climate change. Christopher Monckton deliberately misleads the public on climate change. AAP

The chief troupier: the follies of Mr Monckton

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Associate Professor John Abraham puts Christopher Monckton’s climate claims to the test. This summer, the people of Australia will yet again be treated to a circus tour…
Just some of the people and organisations climate deniers think are coming to get them. Just some of the people and organisations climate deniers think are coming to get them. -(Jonathan)-/flickr, scottgun/flickr, Kew Gardens/fickr

A journey into the weird and wacky world of climate change denial

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Professors Stephan Lewandowsky and Michael Ashley step into the twilight zone of climate change scepticism: where the sun is made of iron and the royals are out to get you…
Scientists have begun to make more noise about climate change. Scientists have begun to make more noise about climate change. afagen/flickr

When scientists take to the streets it’s time to listen up

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Dr Michael Brown exposes the tactics used by purveyors of “non-science” to attack climate change research. It takes a lot to get scientists out of their offices and marching…
Humans contribute energy to the global system at the rate of 15 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs a minute. Humans contribute energy to the global system at the rate of 15 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs a minute.

Our effect on the earth is real: how we’re geo-engineering the planet

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute and Professor of Geology Mike Sandiford explores the staggering ways we influence the shape of the globe. Aren’t we too puny to…
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch says a price on carbon is a good idea. Dame Elisabeth Murdoch says a price on carbon is a good idea. AAP

Climate sceptics steal the big tobacco playbook: create doubt, cause delay

How interesting to see Rupert Murdoch’s mother, Dame Elisabeth, gracing the front pages of Fairfax papers, signing a letter supporting putting a price on carbon. Her son, Rupert Murdoch has also stated…
Sound the alarm. It’s a scientist’s job to alert the public to the threats of climate change. Sound the alarm. It’s a scientist’s job to alert the public to the threats of climate change. AAP

Speaking science to climate policy

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: CSIRO’s James Risbey explains why it’s not “alarmist” to describe the threat of climate change to the public and how the climate system will respond to half measures. With…
An oil extraction project in Canada – a country absent from the Productivity Commission’s carbon report. An oil extraction project in Canada – a country absent from the Productivity Commission’s carbon report. AAP

An emissions reduction policy beyond comparison?

One of the most basic questions to ask in any analysis of Australia’s carbon policy has always been: what is the rest of the world doing? Last week, the Productivity Commission (PC) published a partial…
The decade ending 2010 was the warmest on record for Australia. The decade ending 2010 was the warmest on record for Australia. AAP

The greenhouse effect is real: here’s why

CLEARING UP THE CLIMATE DEBATE: Bureau of Meteorology scientist Karl Braganza explains why we know the climate is changing, and what’s causing it. In public discussions of climate change, the full range…
Building a wind farm in India offsets emissions here: but did the locals want a wind farm? Building a wind farm in India offsets emissions here: but did the locals want a wind farm? danishwindindustryassociation/Flickr

So much for a fair go: Kyoto protocol lets Australia offload climate responsibility

If climate change ever was in equal part a moral, economic and environmental challenge, then it is no longer so. Morality has fallen from attention. The economists have long dominated the climate change…
Exploring possibilities can help us prepare for the future. Exploring possibilities can help us prepare for the future. AAP

From probability to possibility: using scenarios to get our heads around climate change

Predicting the future has never been more important – or more difficult. We have a strong sense that we need to prepare, but only a limited understanding of what exactly to prepare for. While the broad…
Their voices may be loud, but climate change sceptics are in the minority. Their voices may be loud, but climate change sceptics are in the minority. AAP

Australians and climate change - beliefs about public belief may be quite wrong

Do you believe in climate change? It’s seemingly a simple question. But there are many reasons why it is not. Who is asking, why, and who is being asked? This is why we read such widely varying reports…
Of an estimated 30 two-footed ape species, we’re the last ones standing. Of an estimated 30 two-footed ape species, we’re the last ones standing. Vermin Inc/Flickr

Climate change, doomsday and the ‘inevitable’ extinction of humankind

Does climate change seriously threaten to wipe out the human species if left unchecked? Examining our evolutionary past suggests it might once have been the perfect catalyst for our extinction. But now…
The tone of public debate sets the stage for threats to scientists. The tone of public debate sets the stage for threats to scientists. AAP

Climate scientists the target in culture war

The death threats received by Australian climate scientists such as Will Steffen, Andy Pitman and David Karoly haven’t come out of the blue. They are an extension of the vicious attacks on climate science…
Is it getting hot in here? Is it getting hot in here? jetsandzeppelins/Flickr

‘Very worried’ about escalating emissions? You should be

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released unpublished estimates of 2010 global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, and the news is not good. Between 2003 and 2008, emissions had been rising at a rate…
It’s time to begin preparing for the “tertiary effects”. It’s time to begin preparing for the “tertiary effects”. AAP

What will a four-degree climate rise mean for world health?

Public health experts have warned for more than two decades that climate change will harm human health. Initially their attention focused on “primary” health effects (e.g heat waves, bush fires and flooding…
Not that large? $26 is the single most important number in Garnaut’s report. Not that large? $26 is the single most important number in Garnaut’s report. AAP

Is Garnaut’s $26 per tonne the right price for carbon?

The most important single number in the latest Garnaut Review is 26, the proposed starting value for the carbon tax, expressed in dollars per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted. By coincidence, this is exactly…
We must look to our past emissions to understand our true carbon footprint. We must look to our past emissions to understand our true carbon footprint.

History shows Australia is no pissant when it comes to emissions

Ross Garnaut was unequivocal yesterday in responding to industry claims that Australia’s emission reductions would be irrelevant in an international context. “I do not accept that Australia is a pissant…
A carbon tax priced at $26 per tonne could raise $11.5 billion in the first year, said economist Ross Garnaut. A carbon tax priced at $26 per tonne could raise $11.5 billion in the first year, said economist Ross Garnaut. AAP

Final Garnaut climate change review: the experts respond

Economist Professor Ross Garnaut has released his final report to the government on climate change and the economy. The report says global warming is expected to continue and estimates that a $26 per tonne…
With a bit of effort, we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. With a bit of effort, we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. tuey/Flickr

Sleepers wake! With courage we can build a post-carbon Australia

How many wake up calls do we need? The latest International Energy Agency figures, published in today’s Guardian newspaper, show global carbon emissions are at their highest ever levels. As IEA chief economist…
It’s easier to sell a Green Deal in the UK’s political climate. It’s easier to sell a Green Deal in the UK’s political climate. Cabinet Office/Flickr

Deal or no deal - how green is the UK?

The UK government has released a Green Deal that, at face value, seems impossible to replicate in Australia. But how radical and ambitious is this policy? The first thing to note is that the Green Deal…
Are carbon campaigns failing miserably on strategy? Are carbon campaigns failing miserably on strategy? jondoig/Flickr

Don’t preach to the converted on carbon tax: it’s the money vote that matters

Braying climate naysayers are annoying; but so are all those well-intentioned carbon tax advocates who fail to address the core problems and make the same mistakes time and time again. If we’re going to…
The vibrant colours of autumn went missing in years of drought. The vibrant colours of autumn went missing in years of drought. Michael Loke

All the leaves aren’t brown – the amazing story of our technicolour Autumn

If you’ve been for a leisurely stroll in your local park recently, you’ve probably noticed that autumn is in full swing. All manner of brightly coloured leaves cover the ground and this fact alone is cause…
Act now or risk our way of life, Climate Commission says. Act now or risk our way of life, Climate Commission says. AAP

‘The Critical Decade’: expert views on the Climate Commission’s first report

“The Critical Decade” for climate change action is upon us. The Climate Commission’s first report, released today, says unless Australia takes action before 2020, our way of life is at threat. “The risks…
The government has walked away from some of its solar commitments. The government has walked away from some of its solar commitments. AAP

Federal Budget 2011: Missed opportunities for a carbon-smart Australia

Sadly, the major environmental policy announced in the Federal Budget yesterday was not an environmental policy at all but the change to the Fringe Benefits Tax. The government announced changes to the…
Change is happening, but who’s responsible for getting us ready? Change is happening, but who’s responsible for getting us ready? AAP

Making hard decisions: it’s time to prepare for climate change

Australians, human and animal, have a good history of adapting to change. But how best to deal with a changing climate is emerging as a significant and often contentious policy challenge. It’s hard to…
A phased approach will help resolve divisions around carbon pricing. A phased approach will help resolve divisions around carbon pricing. AAP

Phased pricing model is our best shot at carbon consensus

Independent MP Tony Windsor was right in early March when he called for a debate on carbon pricing in Australia that is “a little bit more advanced than the word ‘lie’ and the word ‘tax’“. The quality…
Obama’s on his own when it comes to the environment. Obama’s on his own when it comes to the environment. AAP

A Grand, Old Priority: how Obama’s climate change agenda was scuppered

As the US was brought to the brink of a government shutdown this weekend, one of the sticking points was Republican insistence that President Obama curtail the activities of the Environmental Protection…
We must innovate to avoid a food crisis. We must innovate to avoid a food crisis. AAP

To feed the world, farming emissions must rise

FOOD SECURITY - Agriculture is one of the few industries in the world in which emissions must rise. The carbon footprint of farming will become larger over the next 40 years as we feed a rapidly growing…
Our obsession with growth stops us taking meaningful action on climate change. Our obsession with growth stops us taking meaningful action on climate change. Flickr/hfabulous

Can we let go of growth and embrace climate action?

While global warming deniers have been effective in their aim of sowing doubt in the public mind, the most powerful argument used over and over has been that cutting emissions will cut growth, and that…
Choked: Lagos crumbles under the weight of its population. Choked: Lagos crumbles under the weight of its population. AAP/Pius Utomi Ekpei

Urban trauma: Why we need to rethink our cities

We are entering an era of massive population transfer - a rural exodus of unprecedented proportions. In Asia and Africa farmers and peasants are being lured to mega-cities. This brings myriad benefits…
When it comes to climate change policy, the numbers matter. When it comes to climate change policy, the numbers matter. Philippe Put/Flickr

Economics enlightens the climate change debate

Economic arguments have come to dominate the Australian political debate about climate change. When it comes to climate policy, both the government and the opposition talk far more about taxes, trading…
Climate science is based on years of monitoring and analysis. Climate science is based on years of monitoring and analysis. Flickr/glaciernps

Remind me again: how does climate change work?

Climate change is one of the greatest ecological, economic, and social challenges facing us today. The scientific evidence that human activities are contributing to climate change is compelling, and yet…
People won’t change their behaviour unless they have a mental model of a problem. People won’t change their behaviour unless they have a mental model of a problem. ARM Climate Research Facility on Flickr

Without understanding psychology, can we really understand climate change?

Most of us don’t really understand climate change, and for some of us that means we can’t accept it. Sure, the evidence is compelling, but sadly humans aren’t always interested in evidence when it comes…
At least three-quarters of city commuters travel by car. At least three-quarters of city commuters travel by car. AAP

Carbon tax on petrol has zero chance of cutting emissions

Emissions trading is back in the news and in national political debate, as is the related question of how it will affect Australian motorists. Fair enough. This should receive attention because greenhouse…
Barren: the public is being let down on climate change reporting. Barren: the public is being let down on climate change reporting.

The science of reporting climate change

Foundation Essay – In his recent statements on the poor state of the Australian debate on global warming (meaning discussion of its causes, and how to deal with it in policy terms) Professor Ross Garnaut…
Offsetting air travel is as simple as ticking a box on a website. So why aren’t more of us doing it? Offsetting air travel is as simple as ticking a box on a website. So why aren’t more of us doing it? AAP

Taking responsibility for your carbon footprint

With the political debate over climate change getting muddier, many people who used to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon offsets are no longer doing so. The market for carbon offsets…
Too much focus on balance doesn’t present the true picture. Too much focus on balance doesn’t present the true picture. AAP

When the science is so clear, why is the argument so clouded?

While the evidence for climate change continues to strengthen, public acceptance of the science keeps declining. Closing the gap could be a question of better communication. At the commencement of the…

Research and News (80)

Climate change linked to narrowing leaves

Climate change is causing the leaves of at least one subspecies of Australian plant to narrow in size, a team from the University…

Research Briefs (209)

Not so many fish in the sea - by 2050

Global fish production will need to increase by 3.4% to be able to meet dietary demands of people in 2050. With the effects…

High ocean acidity makes fish anxious

Rising levels of ocean acidity have been linked to anxiety in juvenile rockfish. The study found that carbon uptake in the…

Loud case for climate change

Scientists have discovered the loud sound of sizzling glacier ice melting into the sea which may hold the key for monitoring…

CO2 levels reach record high

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached record levels last year according to the UN World Meteorological Organisation. The…

Antarctic ice melting from below

Antarctic ice shelves are losing ice by melting from their undersides, as well as by calving icebergs. A study compiled by…

El Niño affected by climate change

Climate phenomenon El Niño is stronger today than it has been over the last 175 years, according to research from the University…

Global warming range narrowed

Research from the University of Melbourne and Victoria University has generated more reliable global warming estimates at…

Mapping methane across America

Researchers in the US have done the first ever whole-country study of methane emissions. In some cases they found higher…

Clouds not as cooling as thought

Clouds caused by air pollution have been overestimated in their ability to to reflect sunlight back into space, thus helping…

Study reveals warming’s sooty side

Black carbon is nearly three times more important in climate change than previously thought, research led by the University…

Climate linked with bark beetle outbreaks

An increase in mountain pine beetle outbreaks in North America has been linked with climate change. A study of the number…

Warmer oceans could lead to smaller fish

Change in climate, resulting in warmer and less oxygenated oceans, could mean a reduction in the size of fish. Over 600 species…

Lower clouds may cool earth

Cloud height has declined by 30-40 meters from 2000 to 2010. The analysis was based on the first 10 years of data collected…

Warming threatens wheat crops

Climate change could reduce wheat yields, as the grain stops growing prematurely in hotter weather. Scientists analysed the…

Worldwide ocean acidity measured

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara have completed a worldwide study of ocean acidification, or…

Walnuts are super-sensitive to climate

Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome—possibly…

Where do emissions come from?

Country-by-country estimates of CO2 emissions typically include only those emissions produced from the burning of fossil…

Tiny cameras record the future of bogs

Researchers are using tiny video cameras to study how high-carbon ecosystems respond to elevated temperatures and levels…

Oceans can hide global warming for a decade

Computer simulations of global climate have shown that the planet’s oceans can mask the presence of global warming for as…

Arctic ice at its lowest

Arctic sea ice coverage is at its lowest since observations began in 1972. Ice coverage in the Arctic has declined by 11…

Pikas holding their own

Though their numbers have been in decline, a new survey has found that American pikas have been holding their own in the…

Even plants get stressed

Plant and computer scientists have discovered the genes plants use to manage environmental stresses. Called “cis-regulatory…

On again, off again for Arctic ice

New research indicates that although Arctic sea ice will melt away as the climate continues to warm, it may temporarily stabilise…

Predator-prey model deepens understanding of weather

A mathematical formula describing the population dynamics of prey animals such as gazelles and their predators has been adapted…

More detail on why glaciers melt

It’s hard to imagine glaciers in the tropics, but researchers have been looking at why these high-altitude glaciers - like…

Predicting climate change disasters

Climate change disasters such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet or the dieback of the Amazon rainforest could be…

A clearer picture of glacial ice loss

A new study aimed at refining the way scientists measure ice loss in Greenland is providing a “high-definition picture” of…