Esperance is a town in Western Australia. It’s currently a natural disaster zone following a freak storm. In a tale worthy of the X-Files, thousands of dead birds recently fell from the skies, until almost no living birds were left. Cause unknown, residents baffled.
In other news from the Australian environment, Brisbane is king of the home rainwater tank:
The council issued 16,581 rebates for tanks in the 12 months to November 30. Yet in the far larger city of Melbourne, only about 13,000 tanks have been installed since 2003, while in Sydney, the nation’s biggest metropolis, 8424 rebates were issued in the 2004-05 financial year.
And at the end of the article:
The maximum rebate available in Sydney is $800, while rebates of up to $1000 can be claimed in Melbourne.
The Brisbane rebate is $1700. Twice the rebate, twice the tanks – coincidence? Or are the Sydney millionaires just not claiming their rebate?
This weekend saw the opening of Brisbane’s newest bridge and the end of an era – the last Dutton Park ferry, closing after 40 years of service. If you enjoy reading snippets of local history from other places, read on…
Read the rest…
Next March, WWF Australia are organising Earth Hour. If all goes to plan, Sydney homes and businesses will switch off the lights for one hour, the city will fade to black and we’ll get an interesting snapshot of energy consumption.
It’s an interesting idea and a good publicity stunt. What I’d really like to see though, are some incentives and/or legislation to make energy conservation in cities the norm, not a one-off event. Do we really need all those office buildings and shop fronts illuminated throughout the night?
In a sure candidate for an IgNobel prize, research indicates that Australians are less prone than Europeans to heart attacks induced by watching sport. This ground-breaking work is reported in the Christmas special section of the Medical Journal of Australia.
One of their datasets is the nail-biting 2005 AFL Grand Final, won at the death by the Sydney Swans. I wonder if they included a “fan factor” – the population at large may have been relaxed, but I know several people who repeatedly came close to cardiac arrest over the finals series that year. And we still can’t speak of the 2006 final.
Ah, cricket. Loved by those who grow up where it’s played and an utter mystery to everyone else.
I spent yesterday at Brisbane’s Gabba, a modern day amphitheatre, enjoying day 3 of the first Ashes test. It wasn’t the most compelling game – Australia’s dominance reminded me of a cat toying with an injured baby bird and the “fun police” have cracked down on water melon helmets, trumpets, beach balls and Mexican waves. However, if you’re visiting Australia and get the chance to see cricket or AFL at a major venue, I recommend that you do. It’s always good fun, relaxing in the sun with a beer, chatting with your mates, watching the crowd dynamics and the game. And it’s a great way to put work aside and wind down for a few hours.
Mr Howard played down the assessment that the drought was the worst in 1,000 years, saying he doubted if anybody really knew
So: a 1000-year drought (or indeed a 1000-year anything) is a statistical event. What you’re saying is “you’d expect an event of this magnitude on average once in a thousand years”.
“The worst drought for 1000 years” is quite different. That statement implies that you have 1000 years of data on droughts, you have analysed the data and the current drought is the most severe in that timespan.
What the scientists are trying to say is: the current drought is unexpectedly severe, by a long way. I hope that’s now clear.
Um, OK. Here’s the thing – climate change is leading to warmer, more acidic waters which will kill the reef in several ways: bleaching, dissolving, changes in species that live on it. Putting up an umbrella ain’t going to help.
It really is best to stop and think before opening your mouth.
- Amazing 550 million year-old fossil embryos have been imaged using X-ray tomography, showing 3D and internal structures including dividing nuclei. Evolutionary developmental biologists must be going nuts. Abstract in Science.
- And just outside of Sydney in the Wollemi National Park (home to the famous “living fossil” pine tree), discovery of around 50 new archaeological sites containing rock art, engravings and a stone axe. Typically, ABC News devotes all of six lines to this major find, so you’re on your own if you’d like to know more.