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Environment + Energy — Analysis and Comment

A crack in a road near Kathmandu caused by the earthquake. EPA/Hemanta Shrestha

The science behind the Nepal earthquake

The earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday was caused by the same forces that built the Himalayas, and science is helping predict where the next quake might strike.
The wrong track? The biggest emitters, such as power stations, were largely absent from the government’s first round of greenhouse reduction contracts. AAP Image/Dan Peled

On these numbers, Australia’s emissions auction won’t get the job done

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt has hailed the first round of Emissions Reduction Fund auctions as a "stunning result". But extrapolating the numbers puts Australia behind on its carbon targets.
Growth industry: forestry will account for much of the carbon reductions under the first round of Emissions Reduction Fund contracts. CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons

Infographic: emissions reduction auction results at a glance

The first round of contracts for Australia's Emissions Reduction Fund have been awarded, at an average price of just under A$14 a tonne. How do the numbers stack up, and what projects are the big winners?
Out of sight out of mind? The vast majority of global warming is going into the ocean. peter dondel/Flickr

The climate ‘hiatus’ doesn’t take the heat off global warming

Over the past decade, warming air temperatures at Earth's surface appear to have slowed. But that ignores the vast majority of heat going steadily into the ocean. And, a new paper shows, that makes no difference to the long-term prognosis.
Leadbeater’s Possum is dependent on large, old trees that produce hollows for its survival. David Lindemayer

Victoria must stop clearfelling to save Leadbeater’s Possum

The Leadbeater's has been formally listed as critically endangered. But unless clearfelling in the possums' stronghold stops, it will continue down the road of extinction.
To save wildlife we’ll need to intensify our resource use to leave space for conservation. Mkimemia/Wikimedia

An ecomodernist’s manifesto: save wildlife by embracing new tech

With increasing human pressure on the environment, how can we save wildlife while lifting people out of poverty? A new manifesto argues for using technology to intensify energy and agriculture.
Scaling back coalmining is one way Australia could make big progress towards its emissions targets. CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons

Report calls for emissions cuts, but plays down the opportunities

The Climate Change Authority has recommended Australia cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2000 levels by 2025. While sensible, the government is unlikely to accept, and the target misses bigger opportunities to cut emissions.
Mangroves are still be cleared for aquaculture expansion. Since 1989, 6600 hectares of Tanjung Panjang Nature Reserve’s original 13,300 ha of mangroves have been converted. Iona Soulsby

Indonesia’s vast mangroves are a treasure worth saving

Mangroves, hectare for hectare, store more carbon than any other forests. But they are also among the most threatened. New projects in Indonesia show how mangroves might be restored.
The way forward? Light rail helps urban development far more than roads do - the challenge is how to pay for it. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

How to build light rail in our cities without emptying the public purse

Light rail is good for cities, but it's also expensive, which is why many Australian cities have opted for buses instead. But there is a way to get top-drawer public transport using private dollars.
Marine parks are valuable tools to help safeguard species such as seagrasses. AAP Image/James Cook University

Why are Australia’s marine parks being reviewed so soon after they were signed off?

Australia's network of marine parks - a decade in the making and announced in 2012 - haven't been implemented yet, and the Abbott government has already placed the plans under review. Why the hurry?
Australia’s gas market is entering a time of change: increasing supply, such as coal seam gas, can provide certainty. Ben Jenkins/Flickr

Coal seam gas can provide certainty in a time of market chaos

Australia's "looming gas shortage" - the basis for calls to deregulate coal seam gas - may not be real after all. But gas prices are still set to rise, and that's an area where coal seam gas could help.
Dr Karl shouldn’t be afraid of getting political - as long as he’s doing it for science, not politicians. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Dr Karl didn’t breach ethics, but now he should spruik the science

Dr Karl has been criticised for fronting adverts for a government report he turned out not to agree with. But despite his lapse in judgement, he hasn't seriously breached his journalistic ethics.
Friends of the Earth is among the environmental groups that have been criticised in some quarters as ‘anti-jobs’. Friends of the Earth/AAP Image

Government inquiry takes aim at green charities that ‘get political’

A federal government inquiry that reportedly threatens the tax-deductibility status of dozens of environmental groups is the latest move towards quieting outspoken green groups, writes Peter Burdon.
Rangers have mostly killed young male dingoes on Fraser Island, new research shows. Jane Drumsara/Flickr

Culling is no danger to the future of dingoes on Fraser Island

The famous dingoes of Fraser Island are not threatened by the practice of culling dangerous dingoes, says new research which shows the numbers killed are too small to harm the population's sustainability.
Tunnel vision: the claim that more roads equals less congestion fails to see the wider picture. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Do more roads really mean less congestion for commuters?

A new road may provide motorists with some level of respite from congestion in the short term. But almost all of the benefit from the road will be lost in the longer term.