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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

ENVIRONMENT

From devils to superheroes: our complicated relationship with bats

A “cloud” of Mexican freetail bats leaving their roost. Wikimedia Did you know that the collective noun for bats is a “cloud”, or that in the first scientific classification of mammals, bats were placed close to humans because, like us, they have two nipples? The book Bat, by Tessa Laird, is full of similar tidbits that you will want to share...

What’s wrong with big solar in cities? Nothing, if it’s done right

Residents near big solar projects are often concerned they cause glare and noise. Electrical and Mechanical Services Department Headquarters rooftop solar, Hong Kong/Wikimedia Commons Many of us are familiar with developments of big solar farms in rural and regional areas. These are often welcomed as a positive sign of our transition towards a low-carbon economy. But do large-scale solar installations have a place...

Technology is making cities ‘smart’, but it’s also costing the environment

A smart city is usually one connected and managed through computing — sensors, data analytics and other information and communications technology. from shutterstock.com The Australian government has allocated A$50 million for the Smarter Cities and Suburbs Program to encourage projects that “improve the livability, productivity and sustainability of cities and towns across Australia”. One project funded under the program is installation of temperature,...

Are you walking your dog enough?

A running dog is a happy dog! James Ting/Unsplash Australia has nearly five million dogs, with nearly 40% of Australian households owning one. But it seems that 40% of Australian dogs are not walked enough and that a similar percentage of dogs are overweight or obese. With colleagues at the University of Sydney, we are interested in collecting more recent data on these trends. So why do...

How the ‘yeah-but’ mentality stalls progress on bag bans and other green issues

Is forgetting your bags really such an inconvenience?  AAP Image/Peter Rae The debacle over the removal of single-use plastic bags from supermarkets has been analysed from a range of different perspectives. Supermarkets have been described as breaking a psychological trust contract with their customers and cynically using environmental concerns to reduce their costs and increase their profits. The pushback by Australian shoppers has been the...

Is the ‘Zero Hour’ youth climate march a turning point, or more of the same?

Young activists rallying in Paris before the landmark 2015 climate summit. Julien Odde/Crowdspark/AAP This weekend, young climate activists will march through Washington DC’s National Mall. The rally, part of the Zero Hour movement, is another sign of the concern and dismay felt by young people after 30-plus years of prevarication and hesitation by their elders. Just as young Americans are realising that their...

Australia falls further in rankings on progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goals

Australia’s exported greenhouse emissions are higher per person than Saudi Arabia’s. AAP Image/Richard Wainwright Australia is performing worse than most other advanced countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the global SDG Index, which compares different nations’ performance on the goals. According to the SDG Index, released yesterday in New York, Australia is ranked 37th in the world – down from...

Better boil ya billy: when Australian water goes bad

Just what is coming out of your tap.Steve Dorman/Flickr Many Australians take it for granted we can drink untreated tap water, without worrying about the health effects. However, a recent audit criticised the regulation of pollution in the massive Warragamba Dam drinking water catchment, the biggest single metropolitan water reservoir in Australia. Read more: Why does some tap water taste weird? The Auditor-General’s report found that...

Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change

Widespread mangrove dieback in the Gulf of Carpenteria. JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY/AAP To the chagrin of the tourist industry, the Great Barrier Reef has become a notorious victim of climate change. But it is not the only Australian ecosystem on the brink of collapse. Our research, recently published in Nature Climate Change, describes a series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts that...

Look up #happycity and here’s what you’ll find

The same things tend to make people happy-such as nature and colour. (Jardin des Curiosités, Lyon, France)  Léonard Cotte/Unsplash City planners and designers want to build cities that are liveable, healthy and smart. Yet, in the abundance of research and guidelines on how to make healthy cities, happiness seems to be missing. Research shows urban environments have an impact on our...

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