Plastic versus bioplastic

I have a confession – I’ve started buying compostable baking paper. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know if it’s any better for the environment. I just saw it in the shops and got sold by the vague promises on the packaging of helping the environment. The label doesn’t even tell me … Continue reading Plastic versus bioplastic

Cosmos Q&A: Caring for Country

Happy NAIDOC Week! This article was first published on 22 January, 2021. Australia is faced with multiple environmental crises. Catastrophic bushfires are becoming more frequent and intense, we have the fastest rate of biodiversity loss on Earth, and the Great Barrier Reef is being critically threatened by marine heatwaves – to name a few. To … Continue reading Cosmos Q&A: Caring for Country

Focus on people to put a value on nature

Our reliance on nature’s dwindling resources has become ever more palpable as human activities cause ecosystems and biodiversity to crumble. Yet despite intensified efforts to quantify the value of our planet’s services, there is a yawning divide between calls for action and their translation into policy decisions by governments and corporations. Recognising a mounting urgency … Continue reading Focus on people to put a value on nature

The ecological impact of fences

Humans have swamped the planet with fences, but there is a gaping hole in knowledge about their ecological impact – an issue scientists are now drawing attention to. “Fences are so common that they have become nearly invisible, even to ecologists,” says Alex McInturff from UC Santa Barbara, US, lead author of an international paper … Continue reading The ecological impact of fences

Human-wildlife conflict an ‘unequal contest’

By Tim Jarvis It’s 84 years since the last known Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), died at Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart. Locked out of its sleeping quarters by its keepers, it died in its cage, alone, as temperatures plummeted overnight. In 1996, on the 60th anniversary of this inauspicious date, 7 September was declared National … Continue reading Human-wildlife conflict an ‘unequal contest’

Tim Jarvis on Human-wildlife conflict

It’s 84 years since the last known Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), died at Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart. Locked out of its sleeping quarters by its keepers, it died in its cage, alone, as temperatures plummeted overnight. In 1996, on the 60th anniversary of this inauspicious date, 7 September was declared National Threatened Species Day … Continue reading Tim Jarvis on Human-wildlife conflict

What tipping points are telling us

By Andrew Bernier, Arizona State University Lately, you may have heard someone say that we have reached a “tipping point.” This year alone, with the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the sustained civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, we have witnessed dramatic shifts in … Continue reading What tipping points are telling us

Cosmos Q&A: Threat to our soils

The Australian Academy of Science this week called for greater attention to be paid to the significant damage bushfires cause to the soil, releasing an Expert Brief outlining the threats to agricultural productivity and the risk that some native vegetation may not recover. Cosmos spoke to the authors, Professor Alexander McBratney, from the University of … Continue reading Cosmos Q&A: Threat to our soils

China’s approach to conservation

In the wake of an apocalyptic bushfire season, Australia’s land management and environmental policies have been thrust back into the spotlight. With conversations around how we could better manage our land, and our environmental impact heating up, there’s a suggestion we could learn some lessons from an unlikely country: China. While the world’s most populous … Continue reading China’s approach to conservation

More signs of pressure on our environment

Two papers just published in the journal Nature present more grim news about our changing planet. The first – and the more general in scope – suggests that global warming could cause sudden and potentially catastrophic losses of biodiversity in regions across the globe throughout the present century. It predicts when and where severe ecological disruption could occur … Continue reading More signs of pressure on our environment

Fungi networks boost bushfire recovery

The unprecedented bushfires that struck the east coast of Australia this summer killed an estimated one billion animals across millions of hectares. Scorched landscapes and animal corpses brought into sharp relief what climate-driven changes to wildfire mean for Australia’s plants and animals. Yet the effects of fire go much deeper, quite literally, to a vast and complex underground world that … Continue reading Fungi networks boost bushfire recovery

Electric cars are better for the environment

A global analysis has verified that electric cars and heat pumps generate less greenhouse gas over their life cycle than their archaic petrol and fossil boiler counterparts, which together account for a quarter of the world’s emissions. Considering several different climate policy scenarios over the next three decades, European researchers report in the journal Nature that electric vehicles and … Continue reading Electric cars are better for the environment