Free course begins next week!

Take the challenge and understand problems and solutions to managing tropical coastal ecosystems.  Do you want to develop the skills and knowledge needed to help preserve tropical coastal ecosystems? These critical systems provide goods and services for hundreds of millions of people.  Human activities, however, are leading to their decline globally. TROPIC101x will introduce you to the fascinating organisms, ecological processes, challenges and solutions that lie behind these unique ecosystems.  Details regarding the course and enrollment can be found HERE.

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SPM AR5 FlameOve Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.  From The ConversationMarch 31 2014.

Despite the mounting evidence, there are still some who would deny the veracity of human-caused climate change and its potential to disrupt and harm our communities. Most dissenters rely on non-expert sources, which tend to have low grades of analysis, review and scientific integrity. Not so with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the latest part of which has been released today.

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nr3g7tvk-1394507397Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.  From The Conversation, March 26, 2014

Scientists are meeting this week in Yokohama, Japan, to finalise and approve the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II – the part of the IPCC process that seeks consensus on the likely impacts of climate change, as well as how it might change the vulnerability of people and ecosystems, and how the world might seek to adapt to the changes.

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Bernie FraserLenore Taylor, political editor, The Guardian, March 11 2014

One of the country’s most experienced policy thinkers draws a brutal conclusion about Australia’s climate change debate: the “good guys” have lost the argument because they failed to contest untruths peddled by “bad guys”, including the federal government.

Bernie Fraser, the chairman of the independent climate change authority, which the Abbott government intends to abolish, is a softly spoken former governor of the reserve bank and former secretary of the federal treasury, not known for simplistic assessments of major policy discussions.

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224rr9wm-1395724077Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.  From The Conversation, March 14, 2014

With the approval of dredging as part of the Abbot Point port expansion, Australia has given the green light to an increase in coal exports. While opposition to the plan has focused primarily on the effects of dumping dredge spoil near the Great Barrier Reef, climate change has been missing from the discussion.

Increasing coal exports will play a significant part in the decline of the Great Barrier Reef, and will prove to be a very uneconomical decision for Australia.

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UPDATE:  Heat waves and broken records.  This report could have been written right now.  However, it is was produced by our Bureau of Meteorology exactly one year ago!  Take a look at this report produced for The Conversation in Jan 2013.  Welcome to the new norm!  Any one for cricket?



Flow batteries are rechargeable devices based on specific chemicals in liquids separated by a membrane.  They hold the key to cheap energy storage, especially if their dependence on expensive metals such as platinum and vanadium is reduced. Enter organic compounds called quinones.  Quinones are central to electron transport in photosynthesis (plastoquinone, phylloquinone), and aerobic respiration (ubiquinone). A discovery by Harvard biochemists suggests that quinones similar to those found in rhubarb may unlock the development of cheap flow batteries.

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Elon MuskBig changes are beginning to stir in solar energy. Heavy hitters such as Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and PayPal) continue to see opportunities to transform the world through business excellence.  And those insights are catching on on Wall Street.  SolarCity is not simply a way to sell solar systems, it is a way to sell the energy itself, making “SolarCity almost like a newfangled utility”. Diane Cardwell and Julie Creswelljan wrote more on this innovation and the appeal it is generating in the New York Times last week.

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Green Turtle at Heron Island

The University of Queensland has opened a free on-line course (1-2 year University level – ) on Tropical Coastal Ecosystems and Global Change as part of the edX partnership with Harvard and MIT.

This exciting course will introduce the major tropical coastal ecosystems (principally coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass meadows) and will explore the problems and solutions that these critical systems face.

The lecturers include Professors Hugh Possingham, Sophie Dove, Catherine Lovelock, Stuart Phinn and myself, with contributions from Drs Dorothea Bender, Ruth Reef, and Chris Roelfsema.

The course starts on April 28.  To find out more and register, go to 


Yet another record passes.  Not only has Australia signalled the go-ahead for the world’s largest coal ports (Abbot Point), it will finish the year with 2013 being its hottest year ever.  Peter Hannam from the SMH puts it all together for us!

Happy New Year!


2013 will go down as the year that registered Australia’s hottest day, month, season, 12-month period – and, by December 31, the hottest calendar year. Weather geeks have watched records tumble. These tallies include obscure ones, such as the latest autumn day above 45C (Western Australia’s Onslow Airport at 45.6C on March 21), the hottest winter’s day nationally (29.92C , August 31), and even Wednesday this week, with the hottest-ever 9am reading (44.6C, at Eyre weather station near the WA-South Australian border).

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