Cloning monkeys for research puts humans on a slippery ethical slope

Can’t sleep: these cloned macaque monkeys are missing a gene involved in regulating the sleep/wake cycle.  Chinese Academy of Sciences via AAP Scientists have many tools at their disposal to study, manipulate and copy genes. Now it appears researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai, China, have combined techniques to produce a world first: gene edited, cloned macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Qiang Sun, a senior researcher in the...

Damning royal commission report leaves no doubt that we all lose if the Murray-Darling Basin Plan fails

The Menindee fish kills are a clear sign that ecosystems are losing resilience. AAP Image In the wake of revelations of water theft, fish kills, and towns running out of water, the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin has reported that the Basin Plan must be strengthened if there is to be any hope of saving the river system, and...

Australia is counting on cooking the books to meet its climate targets

The solar boom continues, but not necessarily because of government policy settings. AAP Image/UNSW A new OECD report has warned that Australia risks falling short of its 2030 emissions target unless it implements “a major effort to move to a low-carbon model”. This view is consistent both with official government projections released late last year, and independent analysis of Australia’s emissions trajectory. Yet the government still insists...

Here’s what happens to our plastic recycling when it goes offshore

Migrant workers break apart blocks of pressed plastic bottles at a recycling plant in Thailand. EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL Last year many Australians were surprised to learn that around half of our plastic waste collected for recycling is exported, and up to 70% was going to China. So much of the world’s plastic was being sent to China that China imposed strict conditions...

Flying taxis within five years? Not likely

The Bell Nexus is a full-scale vertical-takeoff- and-landing air taxi vehicle, powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system.  Bell/Cover Images When the American aerospace company Bell Nexus unveiled an air taxi at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this month it breathed new life into conversations about a future where ride sharing happens in the air rather than on the ground. Recent...

The ‘sharing economy’ simply dresses up our consumerist tendencies in a more palatable ideology

Studies have shown that people perceive, select and evaluate shared experiences in a similar way to commercial offers.Shutterstock The scope and scale of the so-called “sharing economy” has increased exponentially over the past decade, to the point where it affects almost every aspect of our lives. Ride sharing has changed how we move. Food delivery apps have changed our eating...

To protect us from the risks of advanced artificial intelligence, we need to act now

What would Artificial General Intelligence make of the human world?  Shutterstock/Nathapol Kongseang Artificial intelligence can play chess, drive a car and diagnose medical issues. Examples include Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo, Tesla’s self-driving vehicles, and IBM’s Watson. This type of artificial intelligence is referred to as Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – non-human systems that can perform a specific task. We encounter this type on a daily basis, and...

Here’s how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry

The gas industry of the future could manufacture and deliver renewable fuels, rather than mining and processing natural gas.  Shutterstock.com The world can limit global warming to 1.5℃ and move to 100% renewable energy while still preserving a role for the gas industry, and without relying on technological fixes such as carbon capture and storage, according to our new analysis. The One...

Recycling is not enough. Zero-packaging stores show we can kick our plastic addiction

Frenco, a zero-waste store in Montreal.  Benoit Daoust/Shutterstock.com Wrapped, sealed, boxed, cling-filmed and vacuum packed. We have become used to consumables being packaged in every way imaginable. The history of “packaging” goes back to the first human settlements. First leaves, gourds and animals skins were used. Then ceramics, glass and tin. Then paper and cardboard. But with the invention of plastic and...

Australians lost more than $10 million to scammers last year. Follow these easy tips to avoid being conned.

Scammers impersonating the Australian Taxation Office have fleeced Australians of more than $830,000. Shutterstock Many of us start a typical day by checking our phones to read emails, social media posts and the weather. Our phones are trusted devices we use constantly throughout the day to communicate. But the trust we place in our phones, and the way we interact with...