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It’s Time to Prepare for Peak Phosphorus

By Graeme Batten and Lindsay Campbell

A looming global shortage of an important fertiliser necessitates the development of phosphorus-efficient crops, recycling of phosphorus from sewage and even separating it from urine.

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Is “Mentally Ill” the New Normal?

By Gloria Wright

Drug treatments for behaviours that were previously not considered mental health conditions raise several unintended consequences.

If we are to believe federal Health Minister Peter Dutton, 46% of us will develop a mental illness in our lifetimes – a staggering increase. Almost half of us will qualify to log in to Dutton’s new online support forum SANE.

As the near majority of us can expect to have our individual identities relabelled as treatable disorders, the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual offers an ever-widening selection of “conditions” from which to choose – “illnesses” that previous generations may have seen as human dilemmas rather than mental disorders.

Science in a Fluoro Jacket

By Ross Smith

Contrary to common perception, most working scientists are not “researchers” and don’t work for public institutions.

I am a scientist. I am very proud of that fact and worked hard as a student to become one. In the process I spent far longer at university than my parents expected. After 9 years, including a year as a research assistant, I was awarded a PhD, was able call myself “Doctor” and my parents were proud.

Burying CO2 Is Cool

By Olivia Kember

Carbon capture and storage is a necessary component of any realistic effort to control global warming.

Using technologies to capture carbon dioxide produced by power stations and industries and pump it back underground features prominently in scenarios for achieving the global goal of avoiding warming above 2°C – yet it remains deeply contentious.

Shaping Climate Attitudes

By Taciano Milfont

People are more likely to support climate change mitigation when they are first confronted with the local adaptations that will be required.

Mitigation and adaptation are the main strategies to tackle climate change. Mitigation refers to actions to reduce the magnitude of long-term climate change, while adaptation refers to actions to respond and adjust to climate change impacts.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long emphasised the interrelationship between mitigation and adaptation to counter the effects of human action on the climate, yet discussions around climate change adaptation have been slow compared to discussions on the mitigation of emissions.

Science Diplomacy, Italian Style

By Oscar Moze

Scientists should be working with diplomats in matters of foreign policy to resolve present-day global problems.

It is illusory to think that the resolution of complex global problems such as climate change, food and energy security should be exclusively the responsibility of diplomacy.

Rather, science and diplomacy should be seen as natural allies and instruments for dialogue and change. Scientists should be working in tandem with diplomats in matters of foreign policy where existing scientific knowledge and the outcomes of ongoing research can contribute directly to international understanding and resolution of present-day global problems.

A Burning Solution

By Seán Kerins

A revival of indigenous fire management in the Gulf country is restoring environmental integrity and reducing carbon emissions.

In the early 1980s, Waanyi and Garawa people reclaimed some of their ancestral land in the south-west Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory. But later, due to a lack of government support for basic citizen services – health and education – they were once again forced off, relocating to overcrowded living conditions in nearby townships.

Banking Living Brain Tissue

By Manuel B. Graeber

Australia needs a repository of living brain tissue to explore the next frontier of medical research.

Today’s cultural and technological achievements are the product of the human brain. Understanding how this organ functions is widely considered the ultimate scientific frontier. Two recent “mega” science projects, unprecedented in terms of ambition and scale, reflect this appreciation.

How Significant Is P?

By Geoff Cumming

Questions over the significance of P values requires the adoption of a new and transparent approach to validating research data.

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Is Tony Abbott Following Canada’s “War on Science”?

By Ben McNeil

Canada’s Prime Minister could be a role model for Australia’s new leader when it comes to science policy.

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