Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

Earthrise: astronauts aboard Apollo 8 captured this spectacular photo of Earth rising above the lunar horizon as they emerged from behind the dark side of the Moon. Image Credit: NASA December 24 is the 50th anniversary of Earthrise, arguably one of the most profound images in the history of human culture. When astronaut William Anders photographed a fragile blue sphere...

Labor promises a comprehensive overhaul of federal environmental framework

As environmental laws were foreshadowed at the Labor national conference, outside a climate change rally was in full swing.  Lukas Coch/AAP Australia will get the biggest overhaul of its federal environment laws in two decades if a Labor government is elected next year. Labor would establish a new Australian Environment Act and create a federal Environmental Protection Agency in its first...

How to have yourself a plastic-free Christmas

Paper not plastic. Adina Habich/Shutterstock.com Research shows that waste can double during the Christmas period, and most of it is plastic from gift wrapping and packaging. The British, for example, go through more than 40 million rolls of (mostly plastic) sticky tape every year, and use enough wrapping paper to go around the Equator nine times. We love plastic. It is an amazing material, so ubiquitous in...

The suburbs are the spiritual home of overconsumption. But they also hold the key to a better future

  The typical suburban backyard of the future?  Retrosuburbia.com (with permission) Suburban affluence is the defining image of the good life under capitalism, commonly held up as a model to which all humanity should aspire. More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Yet with the global economy already in gross ecological overshoot, and a world population heading for more than 11...

The small patch of bush over your back fence might be key to a species’ survival

A kangaroo finds refuge in a small patch of vegetation surrounded by a new housing estate. Georgia Garrard, Author provided It may not look like a pristine expanse of Amazon rainforest or an African savannah, but the patch of bush at the end of the street could be one of the only places on the planet that harbour a particular species...

Your drinking water could be saltier than you think (even if you live in a capital)

Your salt intake from water can vary depending on where you live. Bryan Carlson/Unsplash As the drought drags on, small communities in eastern Australia are turning to emergency water supplies. Often, this means bore water, which has prompted health fears over its high salt content. As alarming as this is, drinking water right around Australia can have surprisingly high levels of salt....

Carbon emissions will reach 37 billion tonnes in 2018, a record high

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise more than 2% (range 1.8% to 3.7%) in 2018, taking global fossil CO₂ emissions to a new record high of 37.1 billion tonnes. The strong growth is the second consecutive year of increasing emissions since the 2014-16 period when emissions stabilised, further slowing progress...

Why battery-powered vehicles stack up better than hydrogen

A battery electric vehicle in The University of Queensland’s vehicle fleet.  Low energy efficiency is already a major problem for petrol and diesel vehicles. Typically, only 20% of the overall well-to-wheel energy is actually used to power these vehicles. The other 80% is lost through oil extraction, refinement, transport, evaporation, and engine heat. This low energy efficiency is the primary reason...

Summer forecast: scorching heat and heightened bushfire risk

Queenslanders have taken to the water in the face of record-breaking heat. GLENN HUNT/AAP Large parts of Australia are facing a hotter and drier summer than average, according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s summer outlook. Drier than average conditions are likely for much of northern Australia. Most of the country has at least an 80% chance of experiencing warmer than average day...

What would a fair energy transition look like?

Minimising the economic and social impacts on fossil fuel communities. AAP Image/Julian Smith Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced last week that a federal Labor government would create a Just Transition Authority to oversee Australia’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This echoes community calls for a “fast and fair” energy transition to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Read more: Labor’s...