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Environment + Energy — Analysis and Comment

Is this image of destruction after Cyclone Pam a sign of things to come? Sgt Neil Bryden RAF, British Ministry of Defence/AAP

Explainer: are natural disasters on the rise?

Natural disasters are becoming more frequent, with more people with less money exposed to a greater number of hazards.
The Franklin River which would prove to be Fraser’s environmental undoing. anna/Flickr

Fraser paved the way for a national environment policy

Malcolm Fraser may be remembered for his failure to intervene in the Franklin Dam campaign, but he otherwise led a government distinguished for its environmental action.
NSW Labor has promised a Great Koala National Park to protect koalas, but what about more insidious threats to the environment? Nicki Mannix/Flickr

Key environment policy still unknown in the NSW election

NSW has nearly 300 threatened animal species, including koalas and pygmy-possums. Yet we still don't know the government's plans in one area that could pose a serious threat to NSW's wildlife.
Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine in the Hunter Valley, which looks set to expand further. The NSW planning department says it would “not be reasonable” to require Rio Tinto “to completely or even partially backfill the final void”. Lock The Gate Alliance/Flickr

Disused mines blight New South Wales, yet the approvals continue

There are hundreds of derelict mine sites across New South Wales – and the state planning department has admitted it is "not aware of the total size" of large mining voids currently being left behind.
Is Bill Gates' desire to help tackle the world’s problems compatible with his foundation’s huge fossil fuel investments? EPA/Cole Burston

Can the Gates Foundation be convinced to dump fossil fuels?

The Gates Foundation is being urged to dump its sizeable fossil fuel assets. Bill Gates cares deeply about world health and development, both of which are affected by climate, but will his charity divest?
Unless community concerns are heard and responded to, the NSW coal seam gas industry will keep running into road blocks. Stop CSG Illawarra/AAP

The future of coal seam gas after the NSW election

Whether you're a supporter or opponent of coal seam gas, the looming New South Wales election will decide the industry's future in the state. So what are the three key issues to watch?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been urged to join the fossil fuel divestment movement. Adbar/Wikimedia Commons

Like everyone else, research charities have a duty to divest

The Guardian's divestment campaign is targeting charitable research trusts. John Quiggin says they have a moral duty to divest fossil fuels, regardless of the temptation to research technological climate fixes.
China’s government says it plans to tackle smog, but has also moved to shut down criticism on the issue in the wake of a popular online documentary. EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

China’s ‘Silent Spring’ has many more political hurdles to jump

Under the Dome, a hugely popular online documentary about China's smog crisis, could be as influential as 1962's US pesticide exposé Silent Spring - but only if Chinese officials allow debate to flourish.
The University of California is the world’s leading university on dealing with climate risk to its investments - most others have a long way to go. LAgirl5252/Wikimedia Commons

Actions, not words, should earn divestment advocates' praise

Do universities deserve praise for pledging to drop fossil-fuel investments, or for actually doing it? Former Liberal leader John Hewson, who leads the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, says only the latter.
It’s not always as ostentatious as Dubai, but our coastlines are home to ever-growing numbers of manmade structures. NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Concrete coastlines: it’s time to tackle our marine ‘urban sprawl’

Urban sprawl has spread to the sea, as more and more man-made structures are being built along the world's coastlines. Just as we do on land, we need to think about how to build sustainably at sea.
Indigenous rangers like Yugul Mangi senior women (from left to right) Edna Nelson, Cherry Daniels and Julie Roy, are crucial guardians of the outback environment. Emilie Ens

Remote Indigenous communities are vital for our fragile ecosystems

Remote Indigenous communities aren't just places to live - they are also crucial for supporting ranger programs and other projects that protect the environment in areas that might otherwise go untended.
Money spent on helping consumers reduce demand means less money spent on substations and other infrastructure. Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons

A simple rule change can save billions for power networks and their customers

Incentives for cutting peak power demand are cheaper than building ever more infrastructure and sending power bills ever higher. The industry has a chance to embrace this new approach - but will it?