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News articles on Australia
Mongabay.com news articles on Australia in blog format. Updated regularly.
(01/25/2007) Humans, not climate change, caused the extinction of megafauna in Australia contends a team of Australian researchers writing in the January issue of the journal Science. Australia lost 90 percent of its largest animals, including a saber-toothed kangaroo, a marsupial lion and giant goannas, within 20,000 years of man's arrival some 50,000 years ago. Scientists have long debated whether the demise of Australian megafauna was due to human arrival, climate change, or a combination of the two factors. The new research found that the climate in southeastern Australia was little different 500,000 years ago, suggesting that climate change was not the ultimate cause of extinction.
Worst coral reef die-off in 11,000 years
(12/18/2006) Two new studies by scientists at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University suggest that coral reefs may be in worse shape than previously thought. The first, appearing in the journal Geology indicates that the current large scale coral die-offs are now occurring more frequently than at any time in the last 11,000 years. The second, published in Current Biology, suggests that the loss of a single 'keystone' species can trigger a rapid shift in the health of a reef.
Asian pollution fuels rain in Australia
(12/12/2006) A new study says that the haze produced by fires in southeast Asia causes increased rainfall in Australia by lowering regional ocean temperatures. Particulate matter in the upper atmosphere has been shown to reflect sunlight, hence lowering temperatures.
Great Barrier Reef shark populations collapsing finds study
(12/04/2006) Coral reef shark populations are declining rapidly due to fishing according to research published in the December 5th issue of the journal Current Biology. The paper says that "no-take zones" -- areas where fishing is prohibited -- can be effective in protecting sharks but only when the no-take regulations are strictly enforced. Examining two common species of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the researchers found that both populations are in the midst of a rapid population decline -- 7% per year for white tip sharks and 17% per year for gray reef sharks, showing that current shark conservation strategies are not effective.
Australia says global warming pact pointless without India and China
(11/01/2006) Australia said there is "no point" of Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming unless it applies to China and India too, according to the BBC News web site
Climate change, not hunters, killed ancient Australia's giant kangaroos
(08/16/2006) Scientists at the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University have found strong evidence for the cause of the extinction of Australia's giant marsupials some 50,000 years ago. Cold, arid climates of the last ice age have been identified as a likely cause, casting doubt on the alternative hypothesis which blames human hunters.
New green building material could cut wood demand in China, India
(07/31/2006) Australian researchers have developed a strong, lightweight building material that they believe could serve as the base for "green construction" in countries like as China and India. Dr Obada Kayali and Mr Karl Shaw of the University of New South Wales have developed building materials that can be manufactured entirely from waste fly ash, a fine powder that is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants. The researchers say that their "unique manufacturing method traps any harmful chemicals, creating an eco-friendly construction material that saves on construction costs and reduces generation of greenhouse gases." Further, the building materials are at least twenty percent lighter and stronger than comparable products made from clay, and take less time to manufacture.
Global Warming Threatens Australia's Tropical Biodiversity
(07/25/2006) Global climate change will pose serious challenges for wildlife populations around the world in the coming decades. The findings of Dr. Stephen Williams (Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, James Cook University) suggest that endemic wildlife populations in Australia's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area will be particularly vulnerable to the local warming trend.
Evolution is twice as fast in the tropics
(05/01/2006) Tropical species evolve twice as fast as temperate species according to research published in Tuesday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study. which compared the genetics of 45 common tropical plants with similar species from cooler geographical areas, suggests that evolution takes place at a faster rate in warmer climates due to higher rates of metabolism, which leads to more genetic mutation, and shorter generations, so genetic changes are rapidly passed on to offspring. The researchers found that tropical plant species -- including species from Borneo, New Guinea, northeast Australia and South America -- had more than twice the rate of molecular evolution as closely related species in temperate parts of North America, southern Australia, Eurasia and New Zealand.
Recent Coral Bleaching at Great Barrier Reef
(04/05/2006) An international team of scientists are working at a rapid pace to study environmental conditions behind the fast-acting and widespread coral bleaching currently plaguing Australia's Great Barrier Reef. NASA's satellite data supply scientists with near-real-time sea surface temperature and ocean color data to give them faster than ever insight into the impact coral bleaching can have on global ecology. Australia's Great Barrier Reef is a massive marine habitat system made up of 2,900 reefs spanning over 600 continental islands. Though coral reefs exist around the globe, researchers actually consider this network of reefs to be the center of the world's marine biodiversity, playing a critical role in human welfare, climate, and economics. Coral reefs are a multi-million dollar recreational destinations, and the Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Australia's economy.
Taking Care of Business: Diapers Go Green
(04/02/2006) Every year some 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped into landfills throughout the United States, generating approximately 3.5 million tons of waste which can take 500 years to biodegrade. Besides creating huge amounts of trash, most disposables are made from materials whitened with chlorine in a process that produces dangerous toxins such as dioxin, furans and other organic chlorines. Cloth diapers--often touted as environmentally superior to disposables--have drawbacks as well, requiring large amounts of water and pesticides, in addition to going through a similar bleaching process. So what's the ecologically responsible alternative? Well, it may come from the land down under. An Australian couple has developed a diaper that is not only biodegradable but serves as a benchmark for green design in that it gives more to the environment than it takes. "gDiapers", as the product is known, was recently awarded the prestigious "Cradle to Cradle Design Certification Award" from MBDC, a design consulting organization that stresses green design. The diaper is the first packaged consumer product to be so honored.
Pictures of new species discovered in New Guinea
(02/07/2006) A team of scientists led by conservation International (CI) found dozens of new species in a survey of New Guinea's Foja Mountains. The December 2005 trip by a team of U.S., Indonesian, and Australian scientists discovered new species of frogs, butterflies, plants, and an orange-faced honeyeater, the first new bird from the island of New Guinea in more than 60 years.
Great Barrier Reef in Trouble says Australian Scientist
(02/01/2006) Australia's Great Barrier Reef may be at risk of one of its worst coral bleaching event on record warned a leading Australian scientist Tuesday.
Global warming may cause 11-inch rise in sea levels by 2100
(01/26/2006) Global warming will cause sea levels to rise up to 34 centimeters (11 inches) by the end of the century, causing increased flooding, worsening the impact of storms, damaging low-lying ecosystems, and accelerating coastal erosion, according to a new study by Australian researchers.
Private industry will embrace green energy says Australian govt
(01/11/2006) US Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman, told the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate--a rival to the Kyoto Protocol on limiting greenhouse gas emissions--that the private sector will solve the problem of climate change.
Australia warns neighbors to stop illegal rainforest logging
(12/19/2005) Australia warned its neighbors to crack down on illegal logging in their rainforests or face trade restrictions according to an article in The Australian.
Australian industry embraces green energy while government fights emissions cuts
(12/01/2005) Despite Australia's resistance to limiting carbon dioxide emissions through the Kyoto Protocol, Australian industry and entrepreneurs are working on novel ways to reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels.
Coral reefs decimated by 2050, Great Barrier Reef's coral 95% dead
(11/17/2005) Australia's Great Barrier Reef could lose 95 percent of its living coral by 2050 should ocean temperatures increase by the 1.5 degrees Celsius projected by climate scientists. The startling and controversial prediction, made last year in a report commissioned by the World Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Queensland government, is just one of the dire scenarios forecast for reefs in the near future. The degradation and possible disappearance of these ecosystems would have profound socioeconomic ramifications as well as ecological impacts says Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, head of the University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies.
Photovoltaic solar energy conversion can be cost-competitive by 2030
(11/16/2005) Professor Andrew Blakers from The Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University will today report to the Greenhouse 2000 Conference in Melbourne that photovoltaic (PV) solar energy conversion can be cost-competitive with any low-emission electricity generation technology by 2030.
Australia's freshwater ecosystems threatened by climate change
(11/16/2005) Australia's freshwater ecosystems are increasingly under threat from global warmning and expanding human population according to an interview of an Australian academic by The Age.
Great White Shark swims 12,400 miles, shocks scientists
(10/06/2005) A female great white shark tagged in waters off South Africa has completed the first known transoceanic trip for an individual shark, traveling farther than any other shark known, more than 12,400 miles (more than 20,000 kilometers) to the coast of Australia and back again, according to the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) and other organizations in the most recent edition of the journal Science.
Satellite monitors health of coral reefs
(10/05/2005) Australian researchers have found Envisat's MERIS sensor can detect coral bleaching down to ten metres deep. This means Envisat could potentially monitor impacted coral reefs worldwide on a twice-weekly basis.
Climate change could have significant impact on health of Australians
(09/22/2005) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Australian conservation Foundation (ACF) are calling for a national response to one of the world's most significant environmental threats -- climate change and its effect on human health.
Crocodile blood shows anti-HIV activity
(08/16/2005) SCIENTISTS in Australia's tropical north are collecting blood from crocodiles in the hope of developing a powerful antibiotic for humans, after tests showed that the reptile's immune system kills the HIV virus.
Reefs worth more for tourism than fishing in Australia
(05/08/2005) The planet's largest living organism is worth more to Australia as an intact ecosystem for tourism than an extracative reserve for fishing.
Cane toads increasingly a problem in Australia
(04/17/2005) Cane toads increasingly a problem in Australia
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