Daily Links May 23

Tooth decay rates in Oberon compared with rates in Bathurst, 48 kms away, show the problems when we prefer emotion over reason. We have much to lose when we depart from science and the evidence-base.

Top Post
Closing coal, oil power plants leads to healthier babies
While the negative health impacts of pollution from coal- and oil-burning power plants are well-documented, UC Berkeley researchers tested the flip side: do birth outcomes improve following power plant shutdowns. They reviewed state data on preterm births and fertility around eight plants before and after they were retired in California and found 20-25 percent drops in preterm birthrates and an increase in fertility. This provides an argument for replacing such plants with renewable energy sources.

Today’s Celebration
Labour Day – Jamaica
National Holiday – Morocco
Birth of Abdul-Baha – Baha’i
Declaration of the Bab – Baha’i
World Turtle Day – http://www.tortoise.com/
More about May 23 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_23

Climate Change
Carbon markets back from the brink of collapse, says World Bank
Development of major new markets in China and reforms in Europe have provided a crucial boost as countries look at tools to cut carbon and meet their Paris climate targets

Shell investors revolt over pay and maintain pressure over climate change
Oil firm grilled over carbon emissions, but defeats motion calling for tougher targets

Drying rivers can help drive climate change – study
Dry rivers could be making a hidden contribution to climate change, according to a new study.

A warming climate may produce more drug-resistant infections
A study in Nature Climate Change suggests three factors—temperature, population density and prescription rates—are all responsible for driving the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.

Coalition signals competition law changes to deal with energy market concentration
Josh Frydenberg ‘worried’ about ownership in the energy market ‘and what that means for consumers’

Energy plan facing August timing issue
The group tasked with drawing up the government’s cornerstone energy policy may not have the resources it needs to get the job done in time.

James Hardie profit tumbles on mounting asbestos claims
Building materials maker James Hardie says compensation claims from its historical production of asbestos fibre are higher than expected and have dragged down its profits.

One million electric cars by 2030? You’re dreaming without big spending
Predictions cited by the Turnbull government that Australians will be driving more than 1 million electric vehicles within 12 years are “virtually impossible” without billions of dollars in government support, says a global automotive expert.

How Australia got planted
A new study has uncovered when and why the native vegetation that today dominates much of Australia first expanded across the continent. The research should help researchers better predict the likely impact of climate change and rising carbon dioxide levels on such plants here and elsewhere.

Costly backup power saved east coast from blackouts, AEMO reports say
The energy operator’s latest reports show it forecasted blackouts over summer but was saved by triggering a backup energy mechanism.

AMP Capital puts foot on the gas [$]
AMP Capital has entered the gas-fired generation business through a 50/50 partnership with Invenergy Clean Power.

MPs take Liddell sale to party [$]
Pro-coal Liberals have called on Malcolm Turnbull to amend laws to force AGL to sell Liddell power station to Alinta in a partyroom meeting.

‘Snowy to beat any new coal plant’ [$]
Snowy Hydro yesterday declared Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project will ‘out-compete any new coal plant’.

How far do Australians go to get to work?
Men travel longer to get to work than women while miners have the longest average commute of all occupations, according to recently released data from the 2016 Census.

ALP’s land-clearing vow [$]
State government landclearing laws could be overridden by federal Labor, in a move that has the national farm lobby nervous.

Victorian possum on ‘brink of extinction’
The critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum is being “monitored into extinction” while logging continues in its habitat, Greens senator Janet Rice claims.

Cat trapping [$]
Any cat out in the wild should be fair game for hunters. That’s the message from Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party MP Daniel Young.

New South Wales
Community divided on Snowy Mountains brumby cull reversal
The New South Wales Government’s decision to reverse a planned cull of brumbies in the Snowy Mountains splits communities across Victoria and NSW.

Shark net figures prompt rethink
On the NSW north coast, shark mesh trials net 420 marine creatures, but only 11 were target species of sharks.

Two towns are 48km apart. One has twice the tooth decay
Fifty years after Sydney added fluoride to its water, a small NSW town has held out. Now, the issue is dividing the community.

Half a million commuters on the road to Sydney’s four big jobs hubs
Nearly half a million Sydney workers commute each day to just four major job hubs – the central business district, North Sydney, Macquarie Park and Parramatta.

Unions support Liddell’s clean energy transition
Unions welcome transition of Liddell site from coal to clean energy, as Coalition government lurches from worst of Trump’s America and Maduro’s Venezuela.

Time for the government to stop bullying AGL
SMH editorial
When AGL politely refused Alinta’s offer for its Liddell power plant, that should have been the end of the Turnbull government’s bullying of AGL.

Luxury camping under the stars at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
A unique experience at Canberra’s premier wildlife sanctuary is being offered during the September school holidays

Recycling waste piles high at Hume, but govt says ‘no cause for alarm’
The government won’t provide any information about just how much recycled waste is at the facility, but bales are stacked higher than the fences.

Corporate figures to help decide Great Barrier Reef priorities under $444m grant
The chair of the charity given nearly half a billion dollars to fix the Great Barrier Reef says corporate interest will help decide the science strategy and funding priorities, and believes the group’s business links will help it leverage more money from the private sector.

Adani looks to Rothschild to sell slice of its coal port operations
Indian mining heavyweight Adani has appointed investment bank Rothschild to sell a stake in its Abbot Point port operations in Queensland in a move sources said could help it raise funds for the controversial Carmichael coal mine.

Clive Palmer’s coalmine plan scrutinised over impact on Great Barrier Reef
Alpha North, which would be bigger than Adani’s Carmichael mine, to be examined under federal environment laws

Sacked reef rebel hits back [$]
A showdown looms between James Cook uni and the professor it sacked over a gag order relating to Barrier Reef science.

IPA, Bolt and other deniers throw epic global tantrum after JCU gets rid of Ridd
Climate science denial groups from the UK, U.S. and Australia have leapt to support a controversial marine scientist who was fired from his job at an Australian  …

Brisbane’s public transport system is broken
Jill Poulsen
One of my interstate friends visited Brisbane last weekend and has vowed he won’t be back.

South Australia
What’s happened to South Australia’s biggest and most modern gas generators?
The biggest and most modern gas generation units in South Australia have been out of action for the past month.

Inside the Tesla big battery: How it made money and cut prices
AEMO reports detail how Tesla big battery helped keep the lights on last summer, smashed prices in specialised markets, and made money for itself from price arbitrage.

Cheap condensers to displace gas as renewable energy back-up
South Australia transmission company ElectraNet says it has found a cheaper solution that using the state’s gas plants to provide system strength to the local grid.

Heatwave to add $6 to keep lights on [$]
South Australian households will be slugged up to $6 for emergency measures used to protect the energy grid on a single day during the January heatwave.

Why Santos told Harbour Energy its takeover bid was not up to scratch [$]
Cameron England
There was an air of resignation among shareholders at Santos’s annual meeting earlier this month.

Goldwind begins construction of 144MW Tasmania wind farm
Construction underway on 144MW Cattle Hill Wind Farm, which will boost Tasmania’s wind capacity by 50%.

Northern Territory
Native title granted at NT salt mine site
Native title will be granted to several Central Australian Aboriginal groups in an area where there are plans to build a massive salt mine and waste storage site.

Abolish ‘world’s worst’ mining tax: Higgins [$]
The world’s first and world’s worst hybrid mining tax, proposed in the NT Budget, must be abolished, writes Opposition Leader, Gary Higgins

Lava from Hawaiian volcano creeps toward major power plant
Molten lava from the erupting Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island is heading towards a geothermal power plant site, as workers rush to shut down the facility to prevent the uncontrollable release of toxic gases.

Why car dealers don’t want to sell electric vehicles
New study pin-points yet another barrier to the global shift to EVs – and it’s coming up at the point of sale. The research adds a new party to the list of incumbent industry groups whose business case is being threatened by EVs: car dealers.

Technique doubles conversion of CO2 to plastic component
Fossil fuels have long been the precursor to plastic, but new research has detailed a technique for doubling the amount of carbon dioxide that gets converted to ethylene — an essential component of the world’s most common plastic.

Solar shines in global shift to renewables
Solar energy is taking an increasingly prominent role in driving the ongoing transformation of global electricity generation markets alongside gains in storage, wind, hydroelectricity and energy efficiency.

Closing coal, oil power plants leads to healthier babies
While the negative health impacts of pollution from coal- and oil-burning power plants are well-documented, UC Berkeley researchers tested the flip side: do birth outcomes improve following power plant shutdowns. They reviewed state data on preterm births and fertility around eight plants before and after they were retired in California and found 20-25 percent drops in preterm birthrates and an increase in fertility. This provides an argument for replacing such plants with renewable energy sources.

Lead exposure found to affect fertility rates
New research that examined the impact of exposure to lead (in the air and topsoil) on fertility in the United States has found that exposure matters for both women and men. It is the first study to find causal evidence of the relationship between lead exposure and fertility rates in the 1980s and mid-2000s.

Smart-climate apps guide African herders to water, grazing fields
A couple of modern-day apps are making inroads in climate-smart livestock and farming practices in Africa.

In soaring heat, Pakistan’s farmers are paying the price
Pakistan’s farmers are struggling to bring in a harvest as the country’s weather patterns change as a result of climate change.

Ground Zero: Death by slow poisoning
The bodies of the children of Madhusudankati – a lush green agricultural village about 14 km from the border with Bangladesh – contain alarming levels of arsenic.

Why is asbestos still killing people?
Every year, more people die from asbestos exposure than road traffic accidents in Great Britain. Many countries still continue to build with this lethal substance – but why?

Widely used PVC plastic chemical spurs obesity, prediabetes: Study
Mice exposed in the womb to a chemical used in PVC plastic, door and window frames, blinds, water pipes, and medical devices were more likely to suffer from prediabetes and obesity, according to a study released this week.

China’s coal consumption clouded in mystery
Uncertainty complicates climate forecasts.

Lack of clean water fuels growing global health crises U.N. warns
Poor planning, experts say, is compounding the problems from climate change and population growth to create growing public health crises around the world.

Widely used PVC plastic chemical spurs obesity, prediabetes: Study
Mice exposed in the womb to a chemical used in PVC plastic, door and window frames, blinds, water pipes, and medical devices were more likely to suffer from prediabetes and obesity, according to a study released this week.

Denmark uses far fewer plastic bags than the U.S.—here’s how
In Denmark, people use an average of four single-use plastic bags a year, compared to one a day in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean Danes are satisfied.

UK Prime Minister pledges to halve new building energy use by 2030
Theresa May unveils target to halve energy usage of new buildings by 2030 as she talks up plans to place UK at forefront of global scientific research and technological development.

Drax power station will build a “negative emissions” plant
Everything about the Drax power station is huge, including its carbon footprint. The negative-emissions technology will capture emissions and bury them underground.

The truth about organic produce and pesticides
Tamar Haspel
Despite reports to the contrary, there is less residue than on conventional produce. But how much does it matter?

Nature Conservation
Quest to find 5 rare bats in 5 weeks on remote South Pacific islands
Reminiscent of a scientific expedition from a bygone era, a group of researchers goes island-hopping in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands on the hunt for rare bats and flying foxes, some which haven’t been seen since 1907.

12 conservation success stories – in pictures
On international day for biological diversity, the IUCN celebrates successful conservation action with images and stories of 12 species and the efforts underway to improve their status

Rangers find 109,217 snares in a single park in Cambodia
Snares – either metal or rope – are indiscriminately killing wildlife across Southeast Asia, from elephants to mouse deer. The problem has become so bad that scientists are referring to protected areas in the region as “empty forests.”

Trump administration plan to scrap hunting rules condemned as ‘new low’
Proposal would repeal Obama-era rules that ban shooting of bear cubs and other controversial hunting practices in Alaska

Two-and-a-half-year expedition ends in world’s most biodiverse protected area
After a two-and-a-half-year expedition through the world’s most biodiverse protected area, the Identidad Madidi explorers have concluded their epic quest of completing a massive biological survey of Madidi National Park, uncovering more than 120 potentially new species of plants, butterflies and vertebrates in the process, according to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society).

Teen who started US bushfire with fireworks to pay $47.5m
The 15-year-old was also told to write apology letters to 152 people after the fire burnt for two months.

Giant Invasive Flatworms Found in France and Overseas French Territories
One of the consequences of globalization is the introduction of invasive species. Giant hammerhead flatworms, or land planarians, up to 40 cm (over 1 foot) in length, are …

Maelor Himbury