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Climate and environment news: cyclones, water contamination, PFAS plants Stonnington forum, clean air research

Severe tropical cyclones are predicted to spread further south in Australia

Cyclones threaten vulnerable homes in Australia

Severe tropical cyclones are predicted to spread further south, threatening billions of dollars in damage in parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The ABC reported on Friday that climate change has accelerated the likelihood of Australia’s most intense tropical storms by 20 per cent since the 1960s, with 10 per cent just between 2015-25 according to Insurance Australia Group (IAG) and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The Brisbane area will face the most severe damage as many homes were not constructed under the northern region’s building codes to withstand category four wind speeds.

Natural contaminants threaten drinking water

Elevated concentrations of organic contaminants in groundwater threaten the availability and quality of over half the world’s drinking water according to a new UNSW study.

Dissolved organic carbon (DOC), while naturally occurring, has reached critically high levels in 32 countries resulting from climate change driven rainfall and temperatures and increased urbanisation.

Experts fear that DOC contaminated groundwater will negatively impact public health and increase the cost of treated drinking water.

Government to pay $212 million settlement over toxic contamination

Residents of three towns celebrated a landmark legal victory against the Department of Defense for its use of potentially carcinogenic per- and poly- fluoroalkyl (PFAS) in fire retardants.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday that settlements for the three 2016 class action lawsuits include $92.5 million to Katherine in the Northern Territory, $86 million to Williamtown in Port Stephens, NSW and $34 million to Oakey, Queensland near Darling Downs.

Despite warnings from international health experts, authorities in Australia have denied any link between PFAS and adverse health. Under the agreement, the government will not make an admission of liability.

Scientists discover a key pathway in plant development

Experts at The Australian National University and Western Sydney University discovered a new molecular communication mechanism for plant characteristics, opening up new opportunities for enhancements in plant development and yields.

The pathway relies on carotenoids to provide chemical signals, triggering gene expression and protein production to transform underground yellow etioplasts into green pigmented chloroplasts that show the plant is harvesting energy.

Researchers believe that further study into carotenoid signals can unlock news ways to enhance plant color, nutrition and development.

Stonnington to host a community climate change forum

On Tuesday 24 March, Stonnington residents in inner southeastern suburbs of Melbourne will gather for an emergency forum to discuss climate change and its effects on the community.

Attendees will hear from Dr. Karl Braganza, head of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, and Fiona Armstrong, founder and executive director of the Climate and Health Alliance.

Learn more about how to attend the event here.

Controversial Narrabri Gas Project referred to Independent Planning Commission

Santos’ controversial coal seam and gas project moved forward with a referral to the Independent Planning Commission mere days after a Parliamentary Inquiry unveiled an industry wide lack of information and regulation.

Committee findings revealed a failure to fully implement the Chief Scientific Officer’s recommendations, missing research into public health impacts and “uninsurable” risks for landholders in the region.

The referral from NSW planning minister Rob Stokes has already been condemned by Lock the Gate Alliance.

Birmingham experts unite to fight air pollution

The University of Birmingham introduced its new research theme Clean Air to combat air pollution, the largest environmental source of non-communicable disease that results in approximately 8 million deaths per year.

Research on indoor and outdoor air quality will be conducted over multiple disciplines by the university’s Institute for Global Innovation (IGI) and Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) with a focus on the UK and low and middle-income countries.

 

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