Environment and Climate Change

Migration is a successful climate adaptation strategy

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Governments across the world should legalise and regulate temporary climate migration, rather than try to prevent it. Alex Randall Al Jazeera After a particularly bad year for rainfall, Miguel told a group of researchers that he was leaving Mexico for the US. This wasn’t a permanent move he explained, he would be back. In fact, he’d made the move several times before. “The only solution is to go away, at least for a while. Each year, I’m working for three to five ... Read More »

UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment

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Formal recognition would help protect those who increasingly risk their lives to defend the land, water, forests and wildlife, says the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment Jonathan Watts The Guardian It is time for the United Nations to formally recognise the right to a healthy environment, according to the world body’s chief investigator of murders, beatings and intimidation of environmental defenders. John Knox, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said the momentum for such ... Read More »

Another oil firm seeks sweeping injunction against UK protesters

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Critics say legal move by UK Oil and Gas, that could see protesters at its sites jailed and fined, is draconian and anti-democratic Rob Evans The Guardian Another firm is seeking a sweeping injunction against environmental protesters, drawing accusations that the legal move is “draconian and chillingly anti-democratic”. UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has applied for a broad injunction to prevent campaigners from mounting protests that it says would unlawfully interfere with its operations. The injunction, if granted by a… ... Read More »

The Arctic Heats Up in the Dead of Winter

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Every once in a while a climatic event hits that forces people to sit down to catch their breath Along those lines, abnormal Arctic heat waves in the dead of winter may force scientists to revaluate downwards (or maybe upwards, depending) their most pessimistic of forecasts. Robert Hunziker CounterPunch By the end of February 2018, large portions of the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland were open blue water, meaning no ice. But, it’s wintertime, no daylight 24/7, yet no ice ... Read More »

Revealed: the extent of job-swapping between public servants and fossil fuel lobbyists

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Last month Australia slipped further down the rankings in the international corruption index. Among a wide range of factors cited by Transparency International was Australia’s “inappropriate industry lobbying in large-scale projects such as mining”, as well as “revolving doors and a culture of… Adam Lucas The Conversation As several high-profile cases have recently revealed, the close ties that continue to exist between senior politicians, former political staffers, and the big end of town have had a real and lasting impact ... Read More »

Microsoft president Smith: World must ‘wake up’ to benefits and perils of artificial intelligence

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Citing the enormous power of artificial intelligence to benefit but also disrupt society, Microsoft President Brad Smith on Thursday, March 1, called for standards of accountability and a “Hippocratic oath” among technologists to do no harm with the emerging tools. Steven Schultz Princeton University “Will we ensure that machines remain accountable to people? Will we ensure that the people who design these machines remain accountable to other people?” asked Smith, a Princeton University alumnus and trustee, speaking to a packed audience ... Read More »

To Help Save Our Oceans, Include Women In The Conversation

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Every other breath we take comes from our oceans ― and our oceans are dying. Climate change is warming their waters, leading to a disruption in migration patterns and increasing acidification. Farah Obaidullah HuffPost Overfishing is irreversibly altering marine ecosystems, with an estimated 60 to 90 percent of oceanic predators like tuna and swordfish already gone. Forecasts predict we may lose 90 percent of our glorious coral reefs by 2050, along with the vital nursery grounds and coastal protections they ... Read More »

German court backs city bans on diesel cars

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A top German court ruled on Feb. 27 in favor of allowing major cities to ban the most heavily polluting diesel cars, a move set to hit the value of 12 million vehicles in Europe’s largest car market and probably force carmakers to pay for costly modifications. LEIPZIG – Reuters Hurriyet There has been a global backlash against diesel-engine cars since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. exhaust tests, meant to limit emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide ... Read More »

We’ve officially found the world’s best prawns

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It’s official: the Aussie prawn – ethical, sustainable and delicious – is the best in the world. Specifically, the Spencer Gulf King Prawn. Anthony Huckstep takes to the high seas with chef Neil Perry to seek them out. Some swear it’s the mighty meat pie and sauce. Others point to the veritable Vegemite (or should it be avo?) on toast, but is there truly a more iconic, quintessentially Australian act than throwing a prawn on the barbie? In the ’80s, ... Read More »

Small-scale fisheries are throwing away fish that could feed those in poverty

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At least 7.3m tons of fish (usually dead or dying) are thought to be discarded each year from marine fisheries around the world. Benjamin L. Jones Leanne Cullen-Unsworth Richard K.F. Unsworth The Conversation But these estimates come mostly from observations of large-scale industrial fisheries. Limited attention has been paid to small-scale fisheries, which are assumed to have low discard rates – some estimate as little as 3.7% total catch, compared to more than 60% for some large-scale shrimp trawlers. Small-scale ... Read More »

Big investors backed shareholder campaigns on climate, human rights

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It had already been a challenging year for BHP by the time its new chairman, Ken MacKenzie, took to the stage at the company’s AGM last November. Ruth Williams The Age The complex repercussions of the deadly Samarco mine disaster in Brazil two years before rolled on and combative hedge fund Elliott had spent much of the year using its toe-hold shareholding to push for a radical shake-up. Against that backdrop a resolution lobbed by a tiny group of retail ... Read More »

How lasers and robo-feeders are transforming fish farming

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Fish farming is big business – the industry now produces about 100 million tonnes a year – and with salmon prices soaring, producers are turning to lasers, automation and artificial intelligence to boost production and cut costs. By Chris Baraniuk, Technology of Business reporter BBC How do you know if farmed salmon have had enough to eat? Well, according to Lingalaks fish farms in Norway, which produce nearly three million salmon each year, the fish make less noise once the feeding ... Read More »

The secret on the ocean floor

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A wave of pioneers is poised to scoop up treasure from the deep sea. But was this ocean mining boom sparked by a 1970s CIA plot? By David Shukman BBC In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California. It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves. Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in ... Read More »

Neighbourhood living rooms – we can learn a lot from European town squares

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Australian urban design has historically focused on providing and improving access to public green spaces. As cities increase in density, this is a crucial part of creating healthy, engaged communities. Dina Bacvic The Conversation But Australian urban designers often fail to consider the “other half” of public space – the town square. Public squares or plazas were, and are, the centres of daily public life in many European towns and cities. Today they still influence the perception of place and ... Read More »

What’s Actually Behind Cape Town’s Water Crisis

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Blame austerity-obsessed technocrats, irresponsible development, and willful ignorance. RICHARD POPLAK The Atlantic The city of Cape Town was plonked by its founders onto a peninsula not far from where the Indian and Atlantic oceans merge, often violently, beneath the imposing banks of Table Mountain. To its north lie the fertile fruit and wine farms that weigh down the city’s restaurant tables with unimaginable bounty. Every day when the clock strikes noon, a cannon blast echoes from Signal Hill, a reminder ... Read More »

Why our obsession with GDP ignores harm done to welfare and the world

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One of the first things economics students learn about is Gross Domestic Product (GDP) GDP is also a central concept in many political debates, including Brexit. The Converstion Will it rise? Will it fall? What effect will this have on our lives? Gross Domestic Product measures the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country, calculating the net value added by each economic “actor”. So if you produce a car sold for £10,000 but you bought parts ... Read More »