Environment + Energy — Analysis and Comment

Cyclone Pam struck the developing island nation of Vanuatu in March 2015. Poorer nations are more exposed to environmental dangers so are more concerned about impacts that might increase the risk. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Wealthy nations overlook the dangers of climate change

Who cares more about environmental issues: people in rich countries, or not-so-rich countries? A survey suggests it's those in poorer places who are more vulnerable to issues like climate change.
Countries should make pledges to fund low-carbon research - such as developing solar technology - and development as part of global climate talks. University of Salford Press Office/Flickr

What’s missing from our climate pledges? Low-carbon R&D

Countries will take emissions reduction pledges to international climate talks in Paris at the end of this year. Those pledges should also include funds for low-carbon R&D.
You need to take a wider view to work out the true greenhouse emissions from nuclear power. Teollisuuden Voima Oy/Wikimedia Commons

Is nuclear power zero-emission? No, but it isn’t high-emission either

Nuclear power isn't 'zero-emission', as many proponents claim. Factor in uranium mining, power plant construction, and other factors and it has similar emissions to wind power. But that's still lower than fossil fuels.
A flood plume containing sediments, nutrients and pesticides flowing onto the Great Barrier Reef from Bundaberg. AAP Image/James Cook University

Cloudy issue: we need to fix the Barrier Reef’s murky waters

Successive plans to curb the sediments, nutrients and pesticides flowing into the waters around the Great Barrier Reef have fallen short, leaving the corals that call the reef home highly vulnerable.
Has any other country achieved a greater reduction than Australia in the intensity of their emissions per unit of GDP over between 1990 and now? AAP Image/Dan Peled

FactCheck: Has any country bested Australia in emissions intensity reduction since 1990?

Recent comments by Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, implied that Australia is leading the world in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP. Is that right?
Australian cattle wait to be loaded onto a ship to Indonesia. Their voyage to the United States would be even longer. AAP Image/Xavier La Canna

Why exporting live cattle to the United States is a bad idea

Australia's cattle industry is keen to begin live exports to the United States. But America is very different to existing live export markets such as Indonesia, making the move much more ethically fraught.
The Fukushima disaster was a dark chapter for nuclear power - but high-profile accidents are far from the only downside. EPA/KIMIMASA MAYAMA/AAP

Accidents, waste and weapons: nuclear power isn’t worth the risks

Is nuclear power worth it? No, says Mark Diesendorf – it's never been a major world energy force, it has caused huge accidents, and its greenhouse emissions are higher than many people realise.
Looking over Palmerston and the East Arm of Darwin Harbour to the new $35B Inpex LNG plant. Many resources projects in the north are in beautiful, environmentally important places. Andrew Campbell

The budget harks back to old ideas for northern Australia

This year's federal budget outlined plans for infrastructure in northern Australia, but it will need to do more than build roads and rail to sustainably develop the north.
Leadbeater’s possum needs more than a ‘set and forget’ approach to conserving the forests where it lives. AAP Image/Healesville Sanctuary

A great big new forest park won’t save Leadbeater’s possum

A large new national park might sound like the best way to protect the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum. But it won't do anything to save possums from the major threat of bushfire.
A nuclear-capable Pakistani missile during testing in 2011. The international community hopes other aspiring nuclear nations can develop nuclear power without the military muscle. EPA/INTER SERVICES/AAP

Power and peace: how nations can go nuclear without weapons

Through history, nuclear power has gone hand in hand with the nuclear arms race. But does it have to be this way? Closer international cooperation can help nations embrace nuclear power peacefully.
The Joint European Torus (seen here with a superimposed image of a plasma) is one of the machines helping to unlock fusion power. Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear fusion, the clean power that will take decades to master

Why don't we have nuclear fusion power yet? Because it involves taming plasmas at temperatures far hotter than the Sun's core. But the good news is that physicists are slowly but surely figuring out how.
Australia has committed to a long-term global average temperature increase to no more than two degrees Celsius – yet often envisions a future in which its is a major coal exporter. EPA/FEDERICO GAMBARINI

A tale of two futures: Australia’s economy under climate change

When it comes to climate change and Australia's economic future, different crystal balls can produce vastly different results.
Bjorn Lomborg’s cost-benefit approach isn’t necessarily the best way to look at problems with a global scope. Simon Wedege/Wikimedia Commons

Bjorn Lomborg’s consensus approach is blind to inequality

Bjorn Lomborg's "consensus" approach involves ranking global development policies by their ratio of benefit to cost. But this hard-headed economic rationale can actually end up entrenching inequality.
More mines, more roads, as the government puts its drive towards economic development ahead of all else. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

There are no green shoots for sustainability in this Budget

Amid talk of paths to surplus and investing in infrastructure, both sides of politics seem to have forgotten Australia's longstanding responsibility to govern sustainably, and not just for the economy.
Breaking the ice: while scientists increasingly understand why Antarctic sea ice is growing, it remains tricky to forecast. Australian Antarctic Division

Expanding sea ice is causing headaches for Antarctic stations

Antarctica's sea ice is changing in ways that scientists didn't predict, and is now causing headaches for Antarctic stations.