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Environment and Resources

Submitted by Project Syndicate on April 11, 2006 - 9:45am.
The hothouse of US-China relations

"The increasing climate-change danger is mainly due to developments in China. The country derives almost 76% of its energy needs from coal, burning almost 2.2 billion tons of it in 2005, with consumption set to rise to 2.6 billion tons by 2010. Moreover, car production soared from only 640,000 in 2000 to 3.1 million by 2005, and annual growth is expected to continue rising by 80%. Petroleum independent until 1993, China now consumes more and more imported petroleum every year, and power consumption is predicted to double by 2025, requiring an average of one new coal-fired plant to come on line each week." Orville Schell

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Submitted by Gus Leonisky on April 7, 2006 - 11:27am.
Gloating in the dark
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Submitted by Jenny Hume on March 31, 2006 - 9:11am.
Live animal exports in heavy seas

"Since 1980, the multi million dollar live animal export industry has come under increasing pressure from animal welfare groups, and on 26 February the Federal Government suspended the live trade to Egypt on animal welfare grounds." Jenny Hume

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Submitted by Darryl Mason on March 28, 2006 - 9:36am.
Whinging in Innisfail

"It had to happen eventually, and now it has. The cyclone hammered people of Innisfail have been mightily slagged by Sydney columnist Miranda Devine, safely tucked up in her warm PJs as she delivers her scathing, bitter verdict on mothers with children in tow who spent two days or more standing in the rain in the Innisfail town square last week." Darryl Mason

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Submitted by Joseph Stiglitz on March 12, 2006 - 11:14am.
Bush's bad-faith energy policy

"One of the more surreal sessions at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos had oil industry experts explaining how the melting of the polar ice cap - which is occurring faster than anyone anticipated - represents not only a problem, but also an opportunity: vast amounts of oil may now be accessible." Joseph E Stiglitz

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Submitted by Ian MacDougall on March 11, 2006 - 9:23am.
Review of Stephen Pyne's 'The Still Burning Bush'

"Wildfires do not respect state or national borders around the world. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) nominated 1997-98 as the Year the Earth Burned, because of all the fires that year. Yet despite and because of Australia’s own record of disastrous fires, Pyne says that she stands out among developed nations as having kept a tradition of controlled burning, and of not attempting elimination of fire from the land as other nations have done. This has made Australia something of a beacon to US fire officers. “For 30 years” he says, “the recognition has been widespread within the American fire community that fire’s attempted exclusion was a mistake; and the appreciation has grown that the fundamental error was not that fire agencies suppressed wildfires but that they ceased to light controlled ones.”" Ian MacDougall

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Submitted by Project Syndicate on March 11, 2006 - 8:59am.
Water for all

"This month, water once again takes center stage at the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City. It is an opportune moment: while much of the world’s attention has been fixed on issues of energy supply and security, hundreds of millions of people in the developing world continue to see the supply and security of fresh water as equally, if not more, important." Katherine Sierra

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Submitted by Susie Russell on January 31, 2006 - 7:43am.
The end of the world as we know it (do you feel fine?)

"What Lovelock and other climate scientists are saying is that we can’t expect a gradual process of warming. Instead the warming will start off gradually (like it has) and as various thresholds or trigger points are crossed, things will start to go ballistic and it could all happen in a few decades. And that is Lovelock’s dire prediction. That civilisation as we know it won’t last 100 years and much of the planet will become uninhabitable for humans in a relatively short time (like the time it takes you to pay off your mortgage.)" Susie Russell

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Submitted by Guest Contributor on January 26, 2006 - 1:14pm.
A View from the Katrina zone

"Cleanup efforts in New Orleans have a long way to go. There are ruined cars and trucks stored under freeway overpasses until they can be hauled away, and hundreds more left where the flood stranded them. There are boats literally stacked in the marina. There is an amazing amount of debris out in the open, and more still inside buildings that will have to be razed or at least gutted. And yet for all the mess remaining it is obvious that an impressive amount of work has been done. It must have been an enormous project to clear the streets. In some areas it must have been a challenge even to find the streets, as so few landmarks remain where they are supposed to be." Lorella Hess

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Submitted by Project Syndicate on January 19, 2006 - 9:54am.
Coping with catastrophic risks

"One year after the Indian Ocean tsunami, what are the lessons? The biggest one is that it was the type of disaster to which policymakers pay too little attention – one that has a very low or unknown probability of occurring, but that creates enormous losses if it does occur. Great as the death toll, physical and emotional suffering of survivors, and property damage caused by the tsunami were, even greater losses could be inflicted by other disasters of low (but not negligible), or unknown, probability." Richard Posner

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Submitted by Dale Mills on January 17, 2006 - 8:24am.
Japan v the whales

"The latest conflict between protesters and Japanese whaling vessels occurred on January 15 when a grenade-tipped harpoon was fired near Greenpeace activists off Mawson Coast, part of the Australian Antarctic Territory." Dale Mills

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Submitted by Gus Leonisky on January 2, 2006 - 7:43am.
Howard's whale of a Christmas

Cartoon by Gus Leonisky
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Submitted by Project Syndicate on December 14, 2005 - 5:53pm.
The Green Guevara’s

"Bolivia is rich,” a Tacana Indian woman told me last week inside Madidi National Park. Earlier in the day, we’d witnessed a hundred capuchin and squirrel monkeys rush down from the Amazon jungle canopy and were now relaxing beside Lake Chalalan while her cousin, a shaman, blessed coca leaves as the evening’s traditional drumming and dancing began." - William Powers.

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Submitted by Guest Contributor on December 1, 2005 - 9:48am.
Saving forests in an era of company writs and sedition

"Is protecting the environment an act of sedition? The question is not just rhetorical - it comes out of concerns raised that the proposed new anti-terrorism laws would render ordinary democratic practices illegal. At their strongest, the proposed laws render an organisation illegal if it encourages acts with a seditious intention - an intention defined so broadly as to include urging "another person to attempt to procure a change, otherwise than by lawful means, to any matter established by law of the Commonwealth". This is not limited to violent or terrorist activities" Greg Ogle

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Submitted by J Bradford DeLong on December 1, 2005 - 12:08am.
Climate change: blindingly obvious or relatively unimportant?

This week the world’s countries – including Australia – meet in Montreal to discuss where we go next on climate change. Today on Webdiary two commentaries on the meeting and potential outcomes. In the first J. Bradford DeLong states "the world's industrial core must create incentives for the developing world to industrialize along an environmentally-friendly, C02- and CH4-light, path". In the second, Bjørn Lomborg argues that "they are wrong about our priorities, and they are advocating an inefficient remedy." Read on for the two perspectives.

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Submitted by Guest Contributor on November 26, 2005 - 11:58am.
Why did the NSW government sign off to a desalination plant?

G'day. I got an email from a long-time Webdiarist today 'gobsmacked' by documents dragged out of the NSW Government which show its proposed desalination plant is, quite simply, not in the public interest. ... Scully has let the cat out of the bag, hasn't he? It's a classic case of the mess that results when the interests of government become merged with the interests of businesses.

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Submitted by Jeffrey Sachs on November 23, 2005 - 1:26am.
Changing climate change

"The actions that are needed are difficult to introduce, because they go to the heart of the world's use of energy, particularly its use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), which, when burned, release carbon dioxide - the key source of rising greenhouse gases - into the atmosphere. Yet the world economy depends on fossil fuels, and developing countries will need to use more, not less, of them as their economies grow. Even if the world runs out of oil and gas in the coming years, coal will prove to be plentiful, and solid coal can be converted at relatively low cost to liquid fuels for automobiles and other uses." Jeffrey D Sachs

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Submitted by David Roffey on November 14, 2005 - 11:51pm.
Greenhouse 2005 - the conference

"CSIRO’s huge Greenhouse 2005 conference opens today in Melbourne. Each day of the conference I’ll be reporting back on what actually got said, and looking forward to what is to come on the next day." David Roffey

Update: Reports from the first day's presentations including a speech by Victorian Deputy Premier and Environment Minister, John Thwaites.

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Submitted by David Roffey on October 26, 2005 - 4:22am.
Climate change update 3: Greenhouse 2005

We've previously looked at climate change in Climate Change: where are we at?, and Warming up the energy debate. Some aspects also came up in the Peak Oil debates: Peak oil and our government: what energy crisis?, Horse dung up to our ears and in Rita, Katrina, oil and the economy. Quite a lot has happened since the June "Warming up -" debate, in terms of studies published that look at the detail of phenomena relevant to climate change, and other relevant developments. Here are some of those things.

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Submitted by David Roffey on September 23, 2005 - 1:28am.
Rita, Katrina, Oil and the Economy

"Commentators at the positive end had already started writing their "why the world economy survived Katrina" pieces within a week or so of the disaster. The (economic) question is - will US consumer confidence (and market confidence generally) survive Rita? I leave for others the shorter term questions around whether the US authorities learned enough from the Katrina debacle to ensure that far more Americans personally survive Rita. As I write, Texans are evacuating. A second Cat. 4/5 storm in the Gulf within a few days is a very different thing for public sentiment to cope with than a single, not unprecedented event - two Cat 4 storms in a year last happened in 1915, when 275 died in Louisiana when Lake Pontchartrain broke its banks and 275 in Galveston, Texas a little later ... Even if, as we all hope, Rita passes or fades without the dramas and human suffering of Katrina, the fact that it existed at all is going to change how people feel, and potentially push them toward saving for a rainy day rather than spending. If so, the world economy may be in for a storm of its own." David Roffey

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Submitted by Craig Rowley on September 8, 2005 - 5:18am.
'The Tempest', Telstra (a storm in a teacup boils over) and a hurricane bringing hell on earth

"I did not trust what I heard before T2 and did not get tricked into tying up money in what was talked up then. More tempted this time? Not on your life. With Telstra's track record and the turmoil turned up in the rush to T3 you'd have to question whether you'd tip a toe in the water, let alone make a plunge. I wonder what the Treasurer is thinking today. Terrible timing? Terrific timing? Time to try some other tack?" Craig Rowley

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Submitted by David Roffey on June 21, 2005 - 5:30am.
Warming up the energy debate

"A recent New Scientist editorial sets out a handy scoring mechanism for energy sources: 'We want them to have a small environmental impact, yet be able to supply energy on a huge scale. We want costs to be low, the method of generation to be safe and for there to be plenty of available fuel. The International Energy Agency estimates that two-thirds of the extra energy demand over the next 25 years will come from developing countries, so whatever sources we choose must be tradable worldwide. Also, in the post-9/11 world, we want energy sources that cannot be abused by terrorists or rogue states.'" David Roffey with the latest on climate change and the future of energy.

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