Great Barrier Reef will never be the same

Core samples of the Great Barrier Reef going back 400 years show no bleaching before 1998. There was another event in 2002. In those events less than 20% of reefs were bleached in the affected zones. This year 95 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef’s northern reefs were rated as severely bleached. Only 4 out of 520 reefs surveyed, less than one per cent, were found to be unaffected by bleaching.

The bleaching is destroying the northern sector of the Reef as we watch. Continue reading Great Barrier Reef will never be the same

Climate clippings 167

1. Hybrid wind and solar farms could deliver significant cost savings

    A total of at least 1GW of large-scale solar could be added to existing Australian wind farms, boosting renewable energy development, generation, and and smoothing its delivery to the grid, according to a new report from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency investigation the benefits of solar and wind “co-location.”

Continue reading Climate clippings 167

Our deep origins in Europe and Africa

human-evolution_250Everyone knows we came out of Africa. Yet at one stage, many millions of years ago, our ancestors disappeared from Africa, but remained in Europe. Then Europe emptied out back into Africa. Some of the key traits that make us human such as big brains, dexterous hands, erect posture and a long childhood developed in Europe and were then taken back to Africa. Continue reading Our deep origins in Europe and Africa

Saturday salon 26/3

1. Magic memories

My birthday is near the end of March, so in some years such as this one it falls within the Easter break. One such time was in 1978, 38 years ago, when my wife and I were planning to get married a few weeks later.

We wouldn’t have time for a honeymoon, so we took a break for Easter, booking into the Mapleton Caravan Park, which is on the northern road from Nambour to Montville in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Some memories stand out. Continue reading Saturday salon 26/3

Turnbull’s clean energy stunt

If you shake hands with Malcolm Turnbull, you best count your fingers to see whether they are still there.

In short, he’s “keeping” ARENA, except that it has no funds, its grant function will be terminated and organisationally it will be absorbed into the CEFC. He starting a new fund, called the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, a subsidiary fund of the CEFC, to lend out to bankable ‘innovative’ ventures, but the funding is less than is already there, and will be dribbled out at the princely rate of $100 million per year for the next 10 years so as “not to overwhelm the market.”

In other words, pretend you are brave and forward-looking, but don’t do anything that might disrupt coal’s predominance any time soon. Continue reading Turnbull’s clean energy stunt

Is the political ground shifting in Germany?

Before the three state elections in Germany on Sunday, March 13 many saw Angela Merkel’s CDU party in for a rough ride because of her policies towards Syrian refugees.

After the election many of the headlines were similar to this one from the NYT: Setback for Angela Merkel as Far Right Makes Gains in Germany. A closer reading presents a more complicated picture. Continue reading Is the political ground shifting in Germany?

High Court challenge after senate voting session descends to farce

Parliament house_220aAt 8.20am on Saturday morning on Radio National’s AM, veteran psephologist Malcolm Mackerras slammed the Senate voting reform and predicted a High Court challenge. What upsets him is the party list. He says we should be voting for individual senators directly, according to the Constitution.

At 10.40am ABC Online reported Family First senator Bob Day’s announcement of a High Court challenge. Continue reading High Court challenge after senate voting session descends to farce

Saturday salon 19/3

1. Suicide a scourge, especially amongst men and indigenous Australians

It’s a sorry story, long but rich in anecdotes, and salted with startling and disturbing facts.

    Suicide in Australia is a dark plague, ravaging every age and occupation. Three-quarters of those deaths are men – more die by their own hand than from either skin cancer, liver disease, heart failure or car accidents. Continue reading Saturday salon 19/3

Climate clippings 166

1. Temperatures could be rising faster than we thought

Using a new model, researchers from the University of Queensland and Griffith University, predict the global average temperature could rise by 1.5°C as early as 2020. The model is based on forecasts of population and economic growth combined with rising per capita energy consumption. Continue reading Climate clippings 166

Rasa gives hydrogen car design a clean slate


Welch company Riversimple is developing a hydrogen car, the Rasa, as in tabula rasa, which means clean slate. Rather than a design which modifies the basic layout of the internal combustion car, Rasa has a powertrain designed from scratch.

It’s certainly light, economical, and has a small carbon footprint. It may have a role in personal transport around cities, especially when cars become self-driving. Continue reading Rasa gives hydrogen car design a clean slate