Daily Links Feb 28

We are a successful species because of our adaptability, but too much adaptability might be counterproductive. Oh, and where was the controlled experiment that established the veracity of the ‘boiling frog’ syndrome – and how did they get ethics approval?

Post of the Day

Humanity producing potentially harmful chemicals faster than they can test their effects, experts warn

‘On a very large proportion of chemicals in everyday use – we either know nothing about their toxicity or very little,’ Prof John Sumpter says.


Today’s Celebration

Andalusia Day – Spain

Peace Memorial Day – Taiwan

Feast of Saint Vartan – Armenia

Teachers’ Day – Arab Countries

Kalevala Day – Finland

National Science Day – India

Rare Diseases Day

Summer’s Day

Digital Learning Day

More about Feb 28


Climate Change

Ice-free Arctic summers could happen on earlier side of predictions

The Arctic Ocean could become ice-free in the summer in the next 20 years due to a natural, long-term warming phase in the tropical Pacific that adds to human-caused warming, according to a new study.


Humans are frighteningly good at getting used to climate change

New research finds that we normalize rising temperatures remarkably quickly.


Health departments are on the frontlines of climate change

The impacts on human health include extreme heat to mosquito-borne diseases.


Dianne Feinstein is a bigger climate threat than Trump

Only a bold plan like the Green New Deal can slow global warming, and that won’t happen if powerful Democrats keep calling for moderation.


The worst-case scenario for global warming just got 14°F worse

The Uninhabitable Earth” isn’t just a book title, it’s a warning.


Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez right to ask if the climate means we should have fewer children?

Matthew Taylor

On Instagram, the congresswoman said millennials are choosing to be childless because of the climate crisis. But that approach risks overlooking systematic factors



How solar saved the day, and coal wilted, in Australia’s record heatwaves

TAI report says renewables – and particularly solar – performed “the best of all energy sources” over the latest record breaking summer of heatwaves.


Morrison pledges $50m in ‘energy efficiency’ grants as part of climate policy pivot

Another climate announcement comes as the Coalition attempts to win back concerned voters


Time to ‘bite the bullet’ and build high-speed rail

Albanese calls for fast train between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.


Coal’s perfect storm hits $70 billion Australian projects

It’s been a tough few weeks for the coal industry with a number of game-changing events that illustrate the fossil fuel’s decline.


LNG import terminals can avoid gas shortfall slated for 2022, energy experts says

New modelling by energy consultancy EnergyQuest says unless Australia begins to import gas it will face a major gas shortfall from 2022 as gas supplies in Victoria dry up.


Morrison’s $67m renewables push [$]

Scott Morrison will pump an extra $67 million into energy effici­ency initiatives under his new ‘practical’ clim­ate change policy.


Iron ore faces climate risk: Rio [$]

Rio Tinto has warned iron ore may struggle to compete as the world makes the switch to a low-emissions economy.


‘It’s been extreme’: Australia’s summer smashes seasonal heat records

Australia has posted its hottest ever summer and the first season in which temperatures exceeded 2 degrees above the long-term averages, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.


Call goes out for citizen scientists to track the elusive platypus

A new citizen science project aimed at monitoring and protecting one of Australia’s most revered animals will launch this week.


Bogong moth decline could have catastrophic effects in the Australian Alps

Millions of bogong moths normally line the walls of caves in the Australian Alps over summer, but for the past two years there have been zero moths in some caves. Declining numbers could have serious impacts on animals that rely on them for food, including the endangered mountain pygmy possum.


More Aussies leaving cities for regions

Australians would leave capital cities in greater numbers if infrastructure was improved in regional cities and towns, a new report argues.


We can ‘rewild’ swathes of Australia by focusing on what makes it unique

Oisín Sweeney et al

Rewilding is gaining popularity around the world, as a means to restore ecosystems to their ancient state. But just like Vegemite, Australian rewilding projects need to have a unique flavour.


Solving the ‘population problem’ through policy

Liz Allen

Current levels of population growth become a problem for Australians when investment in infrastructure like public transport fails to keep up.


Environmental protection is no simple matter

Sue Arnold

Complex legal terminology and ignorance by the mainstream media is making environmental protection difficult.


Climate, the crisis that threatens our political duopoly

John Hewson

Coalition and ALP MPs who want to confront global warming are closer than they are to the deniers in their own parties. Might the divisive issue be our Brexit?


Coalition’s late conversion to climate action stretches credibility

SMH editorial

The Liberals have barely papered over the cracks.


Is Tony Abbott 2.0 really the strong climate policy Australia needs?

Nick Kilvert

Even with this week’s rush of announcements, we’ll probably need a loophole to meet our Paris climate commitments. Policymakers must realise the climate will respond to our emissions, not our accounting.


Only half of packaging waste is recycled – here’s how to do better

Ben Madden and Nick Florin

Not enough packaging is finding its way to recycling centres.


Pumping up case for Snowy 2.0

Australian editorial

The hydro energy scheme leaves taxpayers on the hook.



Alerts issued as hot weather sweeps Vic

A heat health alert has been issued and commuters are being warned their journeys could take longer as a hot spell sweeps Victoria.


No special treatment: Buses replacing trains in April denied dedicated lanes

Thousands of commuters caught up in a major rail shut down won’t benefit from dedicated bus lanes on key freeways.


Fire in western Victoria under control

A fire which was heading towards a Victorian wind farm is now under control.


New South Wales

Gelion launches zinc bromine gel battery to take on lithium mainstays

Sydney-based Gelion has its eye on the $70bn global battery market with the launch of its zinc bromine gel battery technology that it says will soon undercut lithium-ion on…


New South Wales energy sector is “ageing and unprepared”

Climate Council calls out “risky business” of NSW’s complete lack of renewable energy and climate policies, while also being home to Australia’s largest and oldest coal fleet.


Hume Coal, Berrima Rail projects put under blowtorch at public hearing

Plans for a new coal mine in the NSW Southern Highlands have received a roasting at a public hearing organised by the state’s Independent Planning Commission.


‘Blows others out of the park’: High hopes for new type of battery

If Sydney University’s frenetic inventor Thomas Maschmeyer is right, a new type of battery he has developed will help bring electricity to millions.


WestConnex tunnel traffic set to be higher than expected, data shows

The new M4 East toll road from Homebush to Haberfield in Sydney’s inner west is due to open to motorists within the next four months.



Fence for our emblem: rock-wallaby to get new predator-proof home

The ACT’s mammal emblem, the critically endangered southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby, will soon have its own predator proof home in Tidbinbilla.



‘A complete assault on farming’: MP slams reef plan

Proposed laws will protect the Great Barrier Reef from run-off.


Katter pushes Galilee rail line [$]

Bob Katter has asked Scott Morrison to chair an urgent meeting between stakeholders in the Galilee Basin.


Adani delays ‘Shorten’s fault’ [$]

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington says the state’s Premier and her deputy are doing Bill Shorten’s “dirty work’’ on the proposed coalmine.


Eight councils back Galilee Basin mining [$]

Eight North West Queensland councils want mining to happen in the Galilee Basin — home to Adani’s planned Carmichael coal mine.


Ride could be over for Lime scooters [$]

Lime faces being kicked out of Brisbane within weeks after council issued the scooter company with a safety ultimatum.


Labor cowboys risk India ties [$]

Greg Sheridan

Adani is much more than a mine – it is a rare geostrategic opportunity for Australia.


South Australia

OZ shelves plans for Upper Spencer Gulf treatment plant [$]

OZ Minerals has shelved plans to build a concentrate treatment plant in the Upper Spencer Gulf region, while delivering a full year net profit in line with last year’s result.


Battlers sign up for batteries [$]

Residents of Port Pirie and Adelaide working class northern suburbs lead the rush for solar batteries, as State Government subsidy scheme cracks its first 1000 approvals.


Coalition picks early winner in underwriting new generation scheme

Coalition says it will give Tasmania government owned utility underwriting contract for a project with no name, no location, no customer, and no pricing.


Morrison pumps up Tasmania hydro as black coal emerges as likely biggest winner

There may be method to the Coalition government’s madness after all. Prime minister Scott Morrison scooted off to Tasmania on Wednesday to promote the “battery of the nation” project he is promising to fast-track.


Lake Malbena decision fallout: Council planning approval processes criticised

Two state peak bodies have questioned a small council’s ability to deal with complex planning matters after a tourism venture was knocked back


Northern Territory

Learn the lessons of the Darling before we make similar mistakes in the Top End [$]

Ava Wilmore

With Australian rivers drying up, we need to take a look at the lessons of the past to try and avoid the same mistakes in the future.


Western Australia

Rio Tinto lifts lid on copper find

Rio Tinto has unveiled what CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques described as a ‘promising’ new copper discovery in WA.



Renewable hydrogen “already cost competitive,” study claims

New paper says hydrogen produced using renewable electricity “already cost competitive” in niche applications, adding it’s likely to match industrial-scale alternatives in about a decade.


New wind farms added 51GW of capacity around world in 2018

Cumulative global wind capacity reaches 591GW after 46.8GW of new onshore wind and 4.49GW of new offshore wind was installed around the world in 2018.


Want cleaner roadside air? Plant hedges

To improve air quality near urban roads, scientists from the Global Centre for Clean Air Research recommend planting hedges that can trap air pollutants.


100% clean energy and cars in 20 years is viable (but unlikely)

Ramping up renewable replacement of fossil fuels is viably scalable given the massive parallelization of deploying wind and solar.


‘Upcycling’ plastic bottles could give them a more useful second life

Scientists have developed a recycling process that transforms single-use beverage bottles, clothing, and carpet made from the common polyester material polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into more valuable products with a longer lifespan. Their research could help protect oceans from plastic waste by jumpstarting the recycled plastics


Crop residue burning is a major contributor to air pollution in South Asia

Urban emissions of black carbon from fossil fuel combustion are not always the main contributor to severe air pollution in south Asian megacities like New Delhi, shows a new study.


Electric vehicles are approaching a tipping point — here’s why

Advances by manufacturers are bringing the latest crop of electric-powered vehicles to the point where they’re starting to overcome the four main reasons Canadians say they’re wary of going electric.


A water-splitting catalyst unlike any other

Chemists have developed a new iron-nickel oxide catalyst for water splitting, the reaction that produces hydrogen fuel. The patent-pending catalyst shows significantly higher activity in the oxygen-evolution part of reaction than conventional nickel iron oxide catalysts.


Humanity producing potentially harmful chemicals faster than they can test their effects, experts warn

‘On a very large proportion of chemicals in everyday use – we either know nothing about their toxicity or very little,’ Prof John Sumpter says.


Nature Conservation

Plastics ‘leading to reproductive problems for wildlife’

Scientists say some marine animals with high levels of pollutants are failing to calve


World’s deepest waters becoming ‘ultimate sink’ for plastic waste

Scientists say it is likely no marine ecosystems are left that are not affected by pollution


New study finds young forests have a huge climate impact

Forests store vast quantities of carbon and play a huge role in the world’s carbon cycle – as well as in human hopes of mitigating global warming.


Can renewable energy save Uganda′s Rwenzori glacier?

The people at the foot of the Rwenzori glacier in Uganda want a switch to renewable energy to save the snow on the mountaintop, which is melting fast. Their goal: 100 percent green energy by 2020. Will they succeed?


Toxic byproducts of Agent Orange continue to pollute Vietnam environment, study says

During the Vietnam War, United States aircraft sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicides, including dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, on the country’s rain forests, wetlands, and croplands. A new article from the University of Illinois and Iowa State University documents the environmental legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam, including hotspots where dioxin continues to enter the food supply.


Packaging insecticides in tiny capsules may make them more toxic

Encasing insecticides in microscopic plastic capsules — a common formulation for many pest sprays on the market — could lead to unintended consequences.


New buzz around insect DNA analysis and biodiversity estimates

Researchers on the remote forested island of Hauturu, New Zealand have compiled a staggering inventory of invertebrate biodiversity using DNA sequencing, adding a significant number of invertebrates to GenBank – an open access database of all publicly available DNA sequences.


Achieving Paris climate target could net additional billions in fisheries revenue

Achieving the Paris Agreement global warming target could protect millions of tonnes in annual worldwide fisheries catch, as well as billions of dollars of annual revenues for fishers, workers’ income and household seafood expenditures, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.


Climate change: ‘future proofing‘ forests to protect orangutans

A study has identified key tree species that are resilient to climate change and support critically endangered apes.


Risk remains low despite rise in global shark attacks

A new study led by Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences Assistant Professor Stephen Midway at Louisiana State University shows that although the number of shark attacks has increased over time, the rate of attack is low and the risk of being attacked by a shark is highly variable across the globe.


Now for something completely different …

How listening to music ‘significantly impairs’ creativity

The popular view that music enhances creativity has been challenged by researchers who say it has the opposite effect. Psychologists investigated the impact of background music on performance by presenting people with verbal insight problems that are believed to tap creativity. They found that background music ‘significantly impaired’ people’s ability to complete tasks testing verbal creativity — but there was no effect for background library noise.



Maelor Himbury

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