Environment and Climate Change

Nature is a rich source of medicine – if we can protect it

The Pacific yew tree is a fairly small and slow growing conifer native to the Pacific Northwest. The Gila monster is a lizard with striking orange and black markings from the drylands of the Southwestern US and Mexico. Authors: The Conversation Two very different organisms, but with a fascinating connection. They’ve both given us drugs that have saved and improved the lives of millions of people. Paclitaxel, originally isolated in 1971 from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree, is ... Read More »

Arctic’s record warming propelling ‘broad change’ in climate: study

US scientists have warned that higher temperatures in the Arctic could be fueling extreme weather in the US and Europe. DW The NOAA report said 2018 was the second-warmest year on record in the Arctic since 1900. The warming of the Arctic is occurring at a record pace and having a significant impact across the planet, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has revealed in its 2018 Arctic Report Card. The report was released on Tuesday at the ... Read More »

Australia only nation to join US at pro-coal event at COP24 climate talks

Country’s stance described as ‘a slap in the face of our Pacific island neighbours’ Ben Doherty The Guardian Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to coal – and its unwavering support for the United States – by appearing at a US government-run event promoting the use of fossil fuels at the… Australia was the only country apart from the host represented at the event, entitled “US innovative technologies spur economic dynamism”, designed to “showcase ways to use fossil fuels as… Its ... Read More »

Economic hardship and nationalism are gutting climate action

What a difference three years makes. In December 2015, world leaders gathered in a historic display of species consciousness to sign the Paris climate accord to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Nathan Gardels The Washington Post Today, in December 2018, Paris is experiencing a winter of discontent, with a virtual uprising against a tax increase on fuel aimed at fulfilling France’s 2015 obligations. In a dramatic illustration of the battle between the present and the future, the mantra of ... Read More »

The Planet Has Seen Sudden Warming Before. It Wiped Out Almost Everything.

In some ways, the planet’s worst mass extinction — 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian Period — may parallel climate change today. Carl Zimmer The New York Times Some 252 million years ago, Earth almost died. In the oceans, 96 percent of all species became extinct. It’s harder to determine how many terrestrial species vanished, but the loss was comparable. This mass extinction, at the end of the Permian Period, was the worst in the planet’s ... Read More »

Perth’s brief abalone season is a time of delicacies and danger

Starting on December 8, recreational abalone fishing will be allowed in Perth. Fishing will be limited to one hour on four Saturday mornings between December and February. John Charles Ryan The Conversation The maximum catch is still 15 per person per day. A complete ban on abalone fishing between Geraldton and the Northern Territory border will remain in place. This brief, intense season is a social and dining highlight of the year for many Australians – particularly Chinese migrants. It’s ... Read More »

The Indian restaurants that serve only half a glass of water

While many parts of India are going through a sustained water crisis, the western city of Pune is trying to deal with the problem in a rather unusual way, writes the BBC‘s Geeta Pandey. The dystopian future we worried about is already here. Many restaurants in the city of Pune have begun serving only half glasses of water to guests. At the pure vegetarian Kalinga restaurant, a couple have just been seated when a waiter approaches their table and asks ... Read More »

Why the next two years are critical for the Paris climate deal’s survival

A mounting sense of urgency will greet negotiators as they arrive at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland. Authors: The Conversation In 2015, after 20 years of trying and failing to reach a global accord on climate-changing emissions, 195 nations hammered out a deal, the Paris Agreement, that all of them could accept. Three years on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that national decisions about climate action, which country negotiators will convey in Poland and over the next ... Read More »

‘Our greatest threat’: David Attenborough’s grim warning on climate

Naturalist David Attenborough has told delegates at a UN conference the world is facing the end of civilisation if it does not unite to tackle climate change. AAP – SBS British broadcaster and environmentalist David Attenborough has urged world leaders, meeting in Poland to agree ways to limit global warming, to get on and tackle “our greatest threat in thousands of years”. Known for countless nature films, Attenborough has gained prominence recently with his Blue Planet II series, which highlighted ... Read More »

COP24: Swedish teen activist tells world leaders they are ‘behaving like children’

Fifteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has spoken at the COP24 summit. Nick Baker SBS A Swedish teenager who inspired students around the world to walk out of their classrooms over climate change inaction has slammed leaders at a major UN summit. Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg travelled to Katowice, Poland, for the COP24 talks and delivered a speech on Monday to UN leader António Guterres and other decision-makers at the conference. “We are facing an existential threat and there is no time ... Read More »

Protest is a school for democracy

Children are citizens, not mere citizens-to-be. They have political views that deserve an audience. Kei Nishiyama Brisbane Times “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament last week. His pronouncement was a reaction to a school students’ strike against government inaction on climate change all over the country. The young protestors had said: “We are school kids temporarily sacrificing our education in order to save our futures from dangerous ... Read More »

Doing the Doughnut at the G20?

This weekend the G20 are meeting in Argentina, with the aim (they say) of ‘building consensus for fair and sustainable development’. Kate Raworth Since they collectively generate 85% of global GDP, whether they do or don’t transform their economies will profoundly affect us all. So how close to the Doughnut’s safe and just space are the G20? Here’s one way of assessing it, using the pioneering national doughnut analysis by Dan O’Neill, Andrew Fanning, Julia Steinberger and Will Lamb at the ... Read More »

Chinese government orders fishing boats to behave during G-20 summit

Beijing has issued a notice to Chinese fishing boats operating overseas, warning them to avoid illegal activities during the G-20 summit in Argentina this weekend. Nyshka Chandran CNBC Asia-Pacific The country’s Agricultural Ministry released a statement this week asking Chinese offshore fishing enterprises to stay at least three nautical miles away from other countries’ marine exclusive economic zones. This distance will ensure that violations such as cross-border fishing don’t occur, it… These measures are designed to protect China’s image as ... Read More »

Climate change: Can 12 billion tonnes of carbon be sucked from the air?

Is it remotely feasible to remove 12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air? Every year. For decades to come. BBC That’s the challenge posed by the latest conclusions of the UN’s climate science panel. It says that only by pulling this heat-trapping gas out of the atmosphere can we avoid dangerous climate change. But according to one leading researcher, there’s a bit of a hitch: “We haven’t a clue how to do it”. The problem is that scientists ... Read More »

Yes, Prime Minister, I’m striking from school: consider it a climate lesson

I am Veronica, 15 years old, from Scott Morrison’s electorate. Despite our Prime Minister’s calls for students not to strike from school on Friday, we’re choosing to no longer be powerless. Veronica Hester * The Age We will be striking with thousands of other students, to show we will not stand for our government’s inaction on climate change. Mr Morrison has condemned the strike, saying he does not support our schools being turned into parliaments. “More learning and less activism,” ... Read More »

G20: What is it and how does it work?

This weekend in Buenos Aires, the so-called “Group of 20” meets for the 13th time. But what exactly is this group of global economic powers and how significant are their annual gatherings. Arthur Sullivan, Thomas Kohlmann DW What is the G20? The Group of 20, most commonly referred to as the G20, is an international association of 19 states and the supranational EU. The group’s main summit takes place annually, with government leaders and central bank governors from the respective countries coming together ostensibly to ... Read More »