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Hope lies beyond latest climate shock therapy

08 February 2016 | Lyn Bender

Climate Emergency bannerNews about climate change can be depressing. But it was downright shocking to learn that budget cuts to CSIRO have led to the decimation of the agency's climate science. Australia is one of the worst global emitters, yet Australian citizens have outsourced responsibility for climate protection, as they have for refugees. The ease of bipartisan agreement on such crucial dilemmas confirms the point. A dormant electorate creates a negligent, sleeping, self-satisfied and corrupt government.

Vulnerable countries leave mark on Paris agreement

17 December 2015 | Fatima Measham

Tony La ViñaIt has been an exercise in managing optimism and reality in the week after the Paris Agreement on climate change. One thing that can be certain is that COP21 is pivotal in terms of the model it offers for solutions to global problems. The Paris summit departed from a top-down approach, enabling the 43-member Climate Vulnerable Forum, led by current country-chair the Philippines, to work persuasively. 'We were more united,' says Tony La Viña, dean of the Ateneo School of Government in Manila.

Pope Francis' hope for our poor earth

10 December 2015 | Paul Fyfe

Heart on leafTwenty years ago I was hopeful that countries would take strong and sensible action to address climate change, just as we had in 1987 when we faced the major depletion of the ozone layer. The following years slowly erased this hope. The Church did not do enough to stem disappointment, or to affirm that 'stewardship' alone was not going to provide sufficient grounds for the needed changes. By 2010 I was resigned to devastation. But Pope Francis has provided me with a ray of hope.

Fears and fictions in SA's nuclear waste tussle

10 December 2015 | Michele Madigan

Apocalyptic promotional artwork from ContainmentThe state of Nevada continues to show its resolve by its longterm refusal to host a national nuclear waste dump. Such is their success that President Barack Obama has continued to back their opposition. It would certainly be beyond their comprehension that any community, any government, would volunteer to take other countries' nuclear waste, which remains radioactive for thousands of years. Yet in Australia, this is what nuclear proponents, the SA premier, and now the prime minister are backing.

Adjustable ethics at the wheel of a self-driving car

1 Comment
22 November 2015 | Patrick McCabe

Self-driving carThe safety features of self-driving cars could save many lives. But driving also involves making decisions, including ethical ones. Imagine you're in your self-driving car, travelling at speed on a highway. Suddenly an oncoming road train swerves into your lane and thunders head-on towards you. You may just be able to swerve, but unfortunately five men are standing on the side of the road, and you will surely hit them. Should the self-driving car kill five people, or stay the course and kill you?

South Australia's nuclear threat continues

17 November 2015 | Michele Madigan

Radioactive waste barrelIt's no surprise that three of the federal government's shortlisted sites for the proposed national radioactive waste facility are in South Australia, the 'expendable state'. And it's disturbing to find that the owner of at least one of the sites has been misinformed, believing 'It's basically only a medical waste facility.' In fact the farmer and Indigenous opponents of the sites are right to be concerned. The intermediate level waste housed at such a facility will be hazardous for thousands of years.

Turnbull twist tests common good in Murray-Darling Plan

11 November 2015 | Andrew Hamilton

Darling River at Menindee, New South WalesIn recent reflection on the future path of Australia the common good has made a welcome return. At the same time the Turnbull Government has transferred responsibility for water resources, including the Murray-Darling Basin, from the Department of the Environment to the Department of Trade. The two things seem to be unrelated. But the concept of the common good has been embodied robustly in the Murray-Darling Basin plan and survives in the midst of continuing conflict.

Paris climate talks offer real/last hope for meaningful action

10 November 2015 | Fatima Measham

Cartoon from COP21 site of man plugging electric car into wind farmThe UN Climate Change Conference in Paris is set to become the last opportunity for meaningful global action. The signs so far bear optimism, as the impetus for a binding international agreement to tackle the severity and effects of climate change has taken a turn. In order to better understand why, and appreciate the difference that a few years can make, it is worth revisiting why Copenhagen was such a disaster. The most meaningful difference between then and now involves leaders.

Pope Francis and climate justice

1 Comment
05 November 2015 | Frank Brennan

Jacqui Remond and Frank BrennanFrancis does not pretend to have answers to the big questions which will confront world leaders when they gather in Paris. But he does think the science is IN, and the evidence is clear that much of the climate change, loss of biodiversity and water shortages are the result of human action. We are blessed to have a pope who speaks to all the world about the prudence, justice and empathy required so that more people on our planet might enjoy integral human development.

Political roadblocks to Sydney's electricity evolution

04 November 2015 | David James

Tri-generation plantIn the early 1990s London engineer Allan Jones took the suburb of Woking off the grid by establishing a system of tri-generation, which reduces waste by generating power locally. The Sydney City Council employed Jones in 2009 to bring the same approach to Australia. But regulations from previous eras that greatly favour the incumbent power companies are preventing any meaningful change. Once again we find that the main challenges with tackling global pollution are not technical, but political.

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