Around The Web

Country diary: venerable beech hosts a swarm of microscopic life

The Guardian - Thu, 2017-12-21 15:30

Mini-ponds have formed in the surface roots of an ancient tree and provide an environment for minute organisms to thrive

The beech that stands at the end of the stepping stones across Waskerley beck is an elephantine presence, dwarfing surrounding trees. The scarred grey bark of its bole has the colour and texture of pachyderm skin. Its moss-covered surface roots seem to be melting into the earth under the massive burden they support. Over decades they have grown and coalesced, creating hollows between them that retain water, fed by rivulets of rainwater trickling down the trunk.

There is a name for these mini-ponds that form on the surface of plants and are habitats for small aquatic organisms: phytotelmata, which translates from the Greek root as “plant ponds”. The best studied are those contained by leaf bases of urn plants or bromeliads that live on branches in rainforest tree canopies. They are breeding sites for frogs, dragonflies and even land crabs.

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Electricity target so weak it would require 'taking every car away' to meet Paris deal – Greens

The Guardian - Thu, 2017-12-21 13:18

Adam Bandt says analysis of emissions targets for electricity sector ‘shows the cost of caving in to the climate deniers’

The Turnbull government’s proposed emissions targets for the electricity sector would mean every car would need to be taken off the roads immediately, or every cow would need to be taken off farms from next year, for Australia to reach the targets it committed to as part of the Paris agreement, according to analysis conducted by the Greens.

While neither measure is a plausible course of action, the Greens say it reveals the significance of the gap left by the weak ambition of the government’s plans for the national energy guarantee.

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2020 RET in hand, with enough projects remaining to deliver 50% renewables

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 12:54
2017 has been an impressive year for renewables, but ends with a major cloud hanging over it: what happens once the RET is sorted?
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First thoughts: Snowy 2.0 will lift emissions without more renewables

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 12:37
Snowy 2.0 only makes sense if Australia has a much higher share of renewables than contemplated under the NEG.
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Coalition, Labor, Greens and the future of energy in 2018

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 12:24
We asked Josh Frydenberg, Mark Butler and Adam Bandt to share their predictions for 2018 and what's important. This is what they said.
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After 8.3 million page views in 2017, we’re taking a short break

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 12:09
It's been a stellar year for news, readership, podcasts and feedback. We'd like to thank our readers and supporters. We'll be back soon.
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Stockyard Hill wind farm locks in finance after setting record low price

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 12:05
Three local banks agree to finance 530MW Stockyard Hill wind project in western Victoria, validating its record low price for wind project in Australia.
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Telstra signs up for 429MW wind farm, at stunning low cost

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 11:59
Telstra, ANZ lead consortium to buy output from new 429MW wind farm, and lock in similar low price achieved by Origin earlier this year.
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Speed of Tesla big battery leaves rule-makers struggling to catch up

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 11:53
Tesla big battery's dramatic intervention after Loy Yang trip, and a separate 0-100MW injection in just 140 milliseconds, illustrates yawning gap between technologies and market rules. The future is here, but market rule makers are not ready for it.
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Fungal disease poses global threat to snakes

BBC - Thu, 2017-12-21 11:48
Snake populations worldwide may already be infected with a potentially deadly disease, say scientists.
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Chocolate poisoning risk to dogs at Christmas

BBC - Thu, 2017-12-21 11:23
Chocolate poisoning is a risk to the family dog over the festive season, vets are warning.
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Losing the wilderness: a 10th has gone since 1992 – and gone for good

The Guardian - Thu, 2017-12-21 10:14

A new study warns if the degradation rate continues, all wilderness areas will be at risk over the next 50 years

The world’s last great wildernesses are shrinking at an alarming rate. In the past two decades, 10% of the earth’s wilderness has been lost due to human pressure, a mapping study by the University of Queensland has found.

Over the course of human history, there has been a major degradation of 52% of the earth’s ecosystems, while the remaining 48% is being increasingly eroded. Since 1992, when the United Nations signed up to the Rio convention on biological diversity, three million square kilometres of wilderness have been lost.

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Costs double for Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 plan to push coal uphill

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 09:41
Snowy 2.0 or Snow Job? Costs for Turnbull's pet scheme more than double, the economics are kept secret, and project may do little more than use coal power to push water up hill unless Coalition seeks more wind and solar.
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Tesla, Trump, Turnbull and the troglodytes: The best stories of 2017

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 09:34
The death spiral for cars; Tesla's Big Battery – and electric truck; the two faces of Malcolm Turnbull; and all the other stories that caught our readers' attention this year.
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Turnbull has politicked himself into irrelevance on energy and climate in 2018

RenewEconomy - Thu, 2017-12-21 08:40
Medals of Valour should be awarded to Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman, and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.
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How invasive weeds can make wildfires hotter and more frequent

The Conversation - Thu, 2017-12-21 05:05
Wildfires are expected to increase in a warming world, but there is another way humans are changing the patterns and intensity of fires: by introducing flammable plants to new environments. Tim Curran, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Lincoln University, New Zealand George Perry, Professor, School of Environment, University of Auckland Sarah Wyse, Early Career Research Fellow, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Research Fellow, School of Environment, University of Auckland Licensed as Creative Commons – attribution, no derivatives.
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Sea turtle found tangled in floating cocaine bales

BBC - Thu, 2017-12-21 04:02
The US Coast Guard tries to save the animal tangled in line connecting bales of cocaine in the Pacific.
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Thousands of tonnes of dangerous mining waste dumped in wrong place

The Guardian - Thu, 2017-12-21 03:00

Northern Territory government insists no report about resulting combustion and emissions exists, despite investigating McArthur river mine

An Australian mine owned by the global trading firm Glencore mistakenly dumped 63 truckloads of dangerous waste material in the wrong place, where it combusted and sent sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.

The scale of the incident, which occurred at the remote McArthur river zinc-lead mine in Australia’s north, was kept out of the public eye. The Northern Territory government ordered an investigation but refuses to release any details, claiming no report exists because the findings were delivered verbally.

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Using science to wrap oddly-shaped gifts

BBC - Wed, 2017-12-20 23:39
Dr Adam Rutherford and Dr Hannah Fry offer a scientist's guide
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$30 million for farmers to manage on farm energy

RenewEconomy - Wed, 2017-12-20 22:19
The Andrews Labor Government will invest $30 million to help Victoria’s farmers manage energy costs through improved efficiency and new technology.
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