Science and Solutions

Bamboo could turn the world's construction trade on its head

Bamboo, a common grass which can be harder to pull apart than steel, has the potential to revolutionise building construction throughout the world. But that's not all. As a raw material found predominantly in the developing world, without a pre-existing industrial infrastructure built to skew things towards the rich world, bamboo has the potential to completely shift international economic relations.

Dirk Hebel     08-Sep-2014

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Current Articles


Insects: ecological marvels, evolutionary miracles
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Not only are insects diverse, they are also of immense economic and medical importance. They affect our daily lives in positive and negative ways, from pollinating our crops to spreading diseases such as malaria. But we can only start to understand the enormous species richness and ecological importance of insects with a reliable reconstruction of their relationships.
David Yeates     17-Nov-2014
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Does sustainability reporting make organisations more sustainable?
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‘You can't manage what you can't measure' said the renowned management consultant and educator, Peter Drucker. Organisations measure their financial performance and communicate it through their annual reports. But how do they measure and report on the increasingly vital areas of social and environmental performance?
Renard Siew     10-Nov-2014
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The science of living with fire
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The bushfire season isn't wasting any time this year. There have already been large fires in South Australia and NSW, and the obligatory ‘the state is a tinderbox' warnings came out months ago.
Virginia Tressider     10-Nov-2014
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Managing top predators: culling brings its own set of problems
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In October, a young man surfing off the south coast of Western Australia (WA) near Esperance lost an arm and hand in an encounter with what was reported to be a great white shark. Shortly after, baited drum lines (shark hooks suspended from floats anchored to the sea bed) were deployed and two sharks were caught and killed.
Michele Sabto     05-Nov-2014
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From wetlands to wasteland: it's not just oceans that can turn acidic
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Around 2007–2009, at the end of the Millennium Drought, large areas of the lower Murray–Darling Basin in South Australia had slowly turned from fertile, irrigated farmland and ecologically diverse wetlands into dried out wastelands of cracked soil and mud.
Kath Kovac     27-Oct-2014
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Bat’s immunity may hold key to preventing future Ebola outbreaks
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Bats are the natural host species for Ebola and other viruses, many of which can be fatal when transmitted to humans. More than 100 viruses have been identified in bats and this number is rising each year. Culling bats is not the answer: not only do they pollinate plants and control insects, they may also hold the key to disease prevention.
Michelle Baker     27-Oct-2014
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If nature is the ultimate supermarket, who is looking after its supply chain?
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Insects pollinate over 35 per cent of the food we eat or feed to livestock – like fruit, vegetables, oilseeds, legumes and fodder. While bees didn't set out to fertilise food crops for the good of humankind, their urge to collect pollen and nectar for the good of the hive, by a stroke of luck, has provided us with an ‘ecosystem service' that's become indispensible to our way of life.
Beth Askham     20-Oct-2014
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Plants absorb more CO2 than we thought, but ...
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Through burning fossil fuels, humans are rapidly driving up levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which in turn is raising global temperatures.
Pep Canadell     20-Oct-2014
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Pause for hope: de-carbonisation could halve CO2 emissions and enhance prosperity by 2050
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‘Hey, only the fate of humanity is at stake’, read a hand-written placard at the recent People’s Climate March in New York that attracted more than 300,000 people. It was not the only sign that indicated public despair. But it’s not too late to do something.
Frank Jotzo and Anna Skarbek     15-Oct-2014
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How 'biocontrol' fights invasive species
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Australia’s ‘ferals’ – invasive alien plants, pests and diseases – are the most significant bioeconomic threats to Australian agriculture. They also harm our natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Some, such as mosquitoes, also act as carriers of human diseases.
Louise Morin, Andy Sheppard and Tanja Strive     13-Oct-2014
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Knowledge a key ingredient for PNG food security
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Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a land of diversity, home to hundreds of ethnic groups who between them speak 848 different languages. Its geography ranges from extensive coral reefs, to dense lowland rainforest, to snow-capped peaks more than 4 kilometres above sea level. It is one of the world's least explored countries, and also home to some of the world's poorest communities.
Bianca Nogrady     07-Oct-2014
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Brad Ridoutt: measuring food’s water footprint
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Dr Brad Ridoutt started his career as a forest scientist, before specialising in carbon and water footprinting. He uses a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach to assessing the complex connections between greenhouse gas emissions and water use in food manufacturing and agriculture.
Michele Sabto     06-Oct-2014
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