Latest environment news

Time to cut our meteorologists some slack

Peter Hannam   Meteorology is arguably a magnet for more than its fair share of myths. Here's why we are increasingly wrong about forecasting failures.

NASA launches climate change-observing satellite on third try

New NASA satellite to boost weather and climate monitoring.

Geoffrey Mohan 7:34 AM   Amid growing concern about global weather patterns, a rocket roared into space Saturday carrying a NASA satellite that will give scientists new tools to forecast weather, track drought and monitor climate change.

Most Americans back action on climate change, poll finds

Most Americans want action on addressing global warming even if many Republicans in Congress see little urgency.

Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly 7:44 AM   An overwhelming majority of the American public, including half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.

NSW signs up to global climate group

The Climate Group welcomes a conservative state government in Australia as its newest member.

Peter Hannam 6:02 PM   The Baird government has moved to burnish its climate change credentials, becoming Australia’s first conservative government to sign up to The Climate Group.

Environment auction opens unofficial NSW election campaign

Kirsty Needham

Kirsty Needham   Imagine an election fought on environment policy, not the law and order auction? Escalating bids between political parties on how to save the koala, curb mining, reduce litter and protect marine critters.

Green tape not so bad after all

Matt Wade dinkus

Matt Wade   A top research outfit has made a ground-breaking analysis of the economic effects of environmental policies, often derided as "green tape."

Sweating it out: extremes to impact on sport

Spectators cool off with popsicles.

Peter Hannam   While the training and playing seasons for winter sports such as AFL and NRL stretch ever further into the warmer months, traditionally summer pastimes such as cricket and tennis squads – and their fans - are also facing the greater risk of playing in hot conditions.

Giant coal mine a 'death warrant'

Shenhua gets the nod for its Watermark coal mine.

Peter Hannam   The NSW government has been accused of “signing the death warrant for the Liverpool Plains” after the Planning Assessment Commission approved the $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark open-cut coal mine for the region.

EPA faces review ahead of massive Point Henry clean up

Victorian Environment Minister Lisa Neville in Geelong. Part of her agenda is cleaning up contaminated sites.

Tom Arup and Jason Dowling 12:15 AM   The power of Victoria’s environmental watchdog to properly oversee massive rehabilitation projects - such as the looming clean up of Alcoa's defunct Point Henry aluminium smelter - will be tested under a new review.

Schools and hospitals could win from climate-fund bid

Victorian Environment Minister Lisa Neville in Geelong. Her agenda includes cleaning up contaminated sites, new legislation for coastal regions, and battling climate change.

Jason Dowling and Tom Arup   School buildings and hospitals could be upgraded to save power and reduce emissions under a potential bid from Victoria for a slice of the Abbott government's multibillion-dollar climate-change fund.

'Feels like Autumn': Canberra's coldest January in 15 years


Primrose Riordan and Emma Kelly   Canberra has just shivered through the coolest run of January weather since 2000.

'It's a monster': Surfers delight as huge swells arrive off Sydney

Surfers' paradise: The scene at Clovelly on Friday morning.

It will be a surfer's paradise along the NSW coast today, as swells of up to 3.5 metres arrive off the coast of Sydney.

Storms like US blizzard may get stronger but less frequent, study finds

 Students lay out in their bathing suits on the Quad, on the campus of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Boston

Large storms like the blizzard that battered New England this week may become more severe but less frequent as the Earth's climate changes, scientists said on Thursday.

Close to the bone

NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson.

Mark Dapin   It's midday at Aqua, the restaurant above North Sydney Olympic Pool at Milsons Point, and Fiona Simson, the first female president of NSW Farmers, is eating quail off the bone.

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Heat, dry to linger in most of Australia until the autumn, bureau says

Coonamble farmer Neil Kennedy on his drought hit "Kuma" station property late last year.

Warmer and drier weather is expected well into autumn across most of Australia.

Gold Coast cyclones could become regular events, insurance forecaster says

Cyclones are likely to track further south more often in the future, one forecaster says.

More cyclones will hit the Gold Coast in coming decades as a result of climate change, an insurance forecaster says.

Climate models don't over-predict warming, Nature study shows

Sceptics can cherry-pick climate models but the long-run trends aren't over-stating climate change, new study finds.

Geoffrey Mohan   If you listen to climate change sceptics, Earth's surface hasn't warmed appreciably in the last 15 years, and any "record" set last year is just the result of the planet doing what the planet naturally does.

No kangaroos in Austria? At least one is lost in the snow

The lost kangaroo.

T-shirts saying there are 'No kangaroos in Austria' are big sellers in the alpine nation, but nobody told Anton.

Sydney's wet week finally due for sunshine

The forecast for the end of the week? "It's going to be pretty pleasant."

Lucy Cormack   Sydney will finally start drying off on Thursday after its heaviest two-day rainfall in 19 months.

Source of toxic chemicals likely focus of probe

Toxic discovery: a pilot coal seam gas well in Gloucester.

Peter Hannam   The source - rather than the presence - of toxic BTEX chemicals in flowback water extracted from AGL’s coal seam gas wells will be the likely focus of the dual inquiries by the NSW government.

AGL faces delays after chemicals detected

In a bind: AGL's Gloucester CSG operations face twin probes.

Peter Hannam   AGL's coal seam gas ambitions in the Gloucester area have been dealt a double blow with the launch of two government investigations into the detection of toxic BTEX chemicals in flowback water from two of the company's four wells.

NSW government suspends AGL's CSG operations in Gloucester

Gloucester Valley: AGL's CSG project has been suspended.

Peter Hannam   The Baird government has suspended AGL's operations at its pilot coal seam gas field in northern NSW pending the result of an investigation launched on Wednesday, Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said.

Meteorologist sorry for 'big forecast miss' as New York City dodges blizzard

A man shovels snow from his driveway in the Long Island suburb of Dix Hills, New York.

A meteorologist has apologised for a "big forecast miss" after a predicted record-setting blizzard never materialised in New York City.

Universities flunk climate readiness test

Sydney University scored a "D" while most Australian universities collected an "X" for their carbon disclosure.

Peter Hannam   Australian universities are failing the climate readiness test, with few institutions factoring global warming risks into their investment portfolios, according to a new survey.

AGL suspends CSG drilling near Gloucester after chemical find

AGL has halted its CSG operations in Gloucester.

Peter Hannam   The NSW Environment Protection Authority has criticised AGL for a lack of transparency and launched a "full investigation" after the energy giant disclosed it had detected banned BTEX chemicals in water samples taken at its pilot coal seam gas field in the state's mid-north.

Plummeting gas demand casts doubt on CSG plans

The government has cited the potential gas shortage as reason to fast-track CSG construction in the Narrabri area, NSW.

Nicole Hasham   Warmer winters and rising gas prices will halve demand for gas in NSW homes and businesses over the next decade, potentially debunking industry claims that coal seam gas fields must urgently be tapped.

Sydney weather: heaviest two-day rainfall in 19 months

Sydneysiders on the north shore endure another wet commute.

Tom Decent   Sydney has received its heaviest two-day rainfall in 19 months and can expect showers to continue throughout Wednesday morning. 

Chinese officers caught feasting on an endangered salamander

In China, eating salamander meat is thought to improve one's skin.

William Wan and Gu Jinglu   China is in the throes of the harshest crackdown on corruption in decades, but officials in Shenzhen apparently didn't get the memo.

President Obama, the world's worst air just took 6 hours off your life

Pollution in New Delhi: not very welcoming.

Natalie Obiko Pearson   US President Barack Obama could lose roughly six hours from his expected lifespan after spending three days in India's capital inhaling the world's most toxic air

Rain triggers traffic snarls, damages roofs

Keep those umbrellas handy for the next few days at least.

Peter Hannam   Sydney's heaviest rains in about 14 weeks have triggered traffic snarls with some roads flooded, book-ending a soggy start to the school year for many students and their parents.