IN CASE THERE WAS ANY DOUBT, climate sceptics and the fossil fuel lobby have captured the political process, turn your mind to the events of this week.
Last Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, announced a package to assist farmers hit be the drought. When asked if climate change had contributed to the suffering of farmers, Abbott breezily dismissed the idea:
If you look at the records of Australian agriculture going back 150 years, there have always been good times and bad, tough and lush times…”
A day after Abbott’s Delphic musing on climate science, the Government announced a review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Heading it up, Dick Warburton.
For those not familiar with the name, Warburton is typical of the lobbyist and “business figure” often found aligned with the Liberal-National Party Coalition.
Scientists from the Queensland Museum have discovered two new species of goblin spiders on the state’s Darling Downs.
Dr Barbara Baher says her team discovered the Opopaea broadwater, also known as the jellybean goblin spider in Dalby.
They also discovered the Leichhardteus badius, or reddish brown swift spider, while exploring a rainforest in the Bunya Mountains last year.
Ukraine. Bosnia. Venezuela.
Tear gas. Masks. Water cannons.
Ours is an age of riots and rebellions, of radical self-creation in the heady streets: Spain’s indignados, the Occupy movement, Mexico’s Yo Soy 132, and of course the Arab Spring. We are understandably excited when we see people in the streets, and our pulse may even rise at the sight of masks, broken glass and flames, because for so long such images have represented the shards of the old world through which we can catch the perceptible glint of the new. Recent protests in Venezuela against the government of Chávez successor Nicolás Maduro might therefore seem to be simply the latest act in an upsurge of world-historic proportions.
Not so fast.
Asian elephants console others who are in distress with vocalizations and gentle touches, according to a new report published in the journal PeerJ. Anecdotal reports of elephants behaving reassuringly towards each other are common, but this is the first empirical evidence of consolation in elephants.
Joshua Plotnik, a lecturer in conservation biology at Mahidol University in Thailand and CEO of Think Elephants International, and Frans de Waal, of Emory University, observed a group of 26 captive Asian elephants at an elephant park in Thailand. These were mostly unrelated elephants who spent most of their social time together under the guidance of their mahouts, or handlers.
The influence of the food lobby has come into the public spotlight over the past week, with revelations that Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s chief-of-staff, Alastair Furnival, has strong links to the food industry. Furnival previously worked as a lobbyist for several food companies and is the co-owner of a firm that has represented the food industry.