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An Australian Super Hornet refuels from a KC30 tanker while flying over Iraq. @VCDF_Australia/Twitter

Why Western boots should stay out of Iraq and Syria

There are two reasons why we should ignore the growing calls in the United States, Canada and Australia for Western “boots on ground” – meaning ground troops – to fight and destroy the Islamic State (IS…
Ice cores reveal that Antarctica was polluted long before Scott and Amundsen set foot there. Andrew Mandemaker/Wikimedia Commons

Our pollution reached Antarctica long before the great explorers

Lead pollution from Australia reached Antarctica in 1889 – long before the frozen continent’s golden age of exploration – and has remained there ever since, new research shows. In our study, published…
A tourist train from Sheringham to Holt steams past an offshore wind farm, one of many that have sprung up along the UK coast. Gerry Balding/Flickr

UK shows how Australia can cut emissions without a carbon tax

Australia’s carbon price has gone – but a UK review released this week shows that to lay the foundations for a low-carbon economy, pricing carbon is far from the whole story. Over recent months, as Australia’s…
A China-Australia FTA agreement would be handy for business but it’s just the first step. Parker Song/Pool/AAP

Australia-China FTA a stepping stone rather than an end point

Going from raw data the Australia-China trade relationship should be a source of celebration and congratulation. In 2013, bilateral trade came to A$140 billion, up 20% on the year before. Even better…
This Vietnamese school girl is growing up in a new era: by the time she is middle-aged, 60% of the world’s children will be living in a tropical region. UN Photo/Mark Garten

How the world is turning tropical before our eyes

Our Tropical Future: A new report on the State of the Tropics has revealed rapid changes in human and environmental health in the Earth’s tropical regions. This is the first in a four-part series about…
Sunrise over Queenstown in New Zealand in July 2012. This year’s ski season is just beginning in Australia and New Zealand. Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

Winter is here, but will there be snow in Australia and NZ?

Australia’s ski season is finally getting underway, with the first resort, Perisher, opening its ski lifts after some weekend snow fall. But snow lovers are still watching and waiting for good falls elsewhere…
After a tip-off from an Egyptian vet, Animals Australia sparked a government investigation into what an industry leader described as “horrific” slaughtering practices in Egypt last year. Tougher rules have now been promised. Animals Australia

Live animal export rules are useless without enforcement

Australia looks set to resume exporting live sheep to Iran, after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this week flagged the end of a 40-year ban following Iran’s Islamic revolution. Flanked by the chief…
Southern Stars: a new Australian flag design by Dr Benjamin T. Jones. Artwork by Jake Heath

Wave! It’s a flag for all Australians

Australia has never had a truly national flag. While we currently fly one of our dominion status ensigns, we have never had the same debate when we abandoned God Save the Queen and embraced an anthem of…
The swollen Fitzroy River in Queensland, Australia, where heavy rains in early 2011 led to extraordinary regrowth with a global impact. Capt. W. M. & Tatters/Flickr

Record rains made Australia a giant green global carbon sink

Record-breaking rains triggered so much new growth across Australia that the continent turned into a giant green carbon sink to rival tropical rainforests including the Amazon, our new research shows…
A busy bee, giving free horticultural help by collecting pollen. But a tiny mite has devastated bee populations around the world – and it’s now on Australia’s doorstep. David McClenaghan/CSIRO

Explainer: Varroa mite, the tiny killer threatening Australia’s bees

A tiny mite has been killing honey bees all around the world, and will inevitably reach Australian shores. So what is this destructive mite, and what we can do to protect Australian honey bees? The Varroa…
Part of Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, where the federal government blocked a major new coal port in 2008 over its “clearly unacceptable” environmental impacts". Daniel E. Smith/Wikimedia Commons

‘Green tape’ cuts: industry wins, locals and the environment lose

Deep cuts to environmental programs and staff predicted in today’s federal budget aren’t the only “green” cuts that Australians should be concerned about. The federal government is currently holding an…
A report criticising government oversight of a major Gladstone harbour dredging project has warned against cutting resources for environmental monitoring and compliance. Flickr/GreensMPs

Environmental job cuts risk a repeat of Gladstone failures

A long-awaited report on environmental failures at the biggest port along the Great Barrier Reef coastline and today’s federal budget may not seem connected – but if you read the report, it’s clear just…
Four out of five Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast – but expanding cities are taking a toll on our environment. Paul Boyce/Flickr

The state of Australia: our environment

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
Two dozen ships anchored outside Gladstone harbour in 2008, waiting to load coal. milton.v1/Flickr

Australia’s biggest coal state plans for life beyond coal

We are in the coal business. If you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat we all need to understand that. – Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, June 2012. It was a rare moment of unscripted…
We’re seeing shifts in federal policy – and in the way multiculturalism is framed in civil society. betta design

Who gets to write the script for our multicultural future?

Anthropological images of alien peoples have long been a staple in the collections of Australia’s institutions of cultural memory. From the invention of photography – and indeed before, through the hands…
Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey hosting the recent G20 finance ministers' meeting in Sydney, a lead-up event to November’s Brisbane Summit. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Double or nothing: Australia’s G20 energy challenge

When Australia hosts the G20 Leaders' Summit in November, a top agenda item for its “Brisbane Action Plan” will be “practical actions to improve productivity and competitiveness”. So here’s a good place…

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