Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Expert Opinion

Experts pick apart the veracity of claims made in research papers and the media.

Gene Editing for Conservation Needs In-Built Protection

By Australian Science Media Centre

Researchers have been considering using gene drives to rid New Zealand of invasive pests, but have they adequately estimated the issues and addressed indigenous rights?

Gene drive technology in any implementation is powerful and risky, and thus a precautionary approach to all stages of its development and release is critical. New Zealand already has the most advanced risk management systems in the world for bio­security and the release of new organisms, including genetically modified ones. Gene editing is only an extension of existing genetic modification which, once established in the wild, usually becomes irreversible.

Ozone Levels Still Decreasing Away from Poles


While ozone levels in the upper atmosphere near the poles have been recovering, new research has found that the bottom part of the ozone layer at more populated latitudes is not recovering.

The worst ozone-depleting substances are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other volatile chemicals containing chlorine or bromine. Emissions of these substances have been drastically reduced by international agreement, under the Montreal Protocol, to ban or restrict their production and consumption. As a result (we’d like to believe), the decline in the stratospheric ozone concentration has been arrested and there are some signs of recovery.

Musk’s Mission to Mars


Elon Musk provided an update on his quest to colonise Mars at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, where he described a reusable rocket to overcome cost barriers and an ambitious schedule to land cargo missions on Mars by 2022.

To view this article subscribe or purchase a yearly pass here.

Human Embryos Edited


Scientists have used CRISPR to edit human embryos, removing a mutation linked to a heritable heart condition.

To view this article subscribe or purchase a yearly pass here.

Finkel Review Hedges Its Bets


Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has unveiled a blueprint for the national electricity market that “risks falling short of Australia’s task and opportunities in reducing carbon emissions”.

After 'WannaCrypt', should governments stockpile software vulnerabilities?

Should governments adhere in cyberspace to the same rules applied to weapons in the physical world?

The “WannaCrypt” malware has disrupted vital infrastructure in almost 100 countries so far.

Federal Budget 2017-18

Experts comment on how the 2017-18 Federal Budget will impact research, health and science.

Professor Les Field is Secretary for Science Policy at the Australian Academy of Science
"Science has largely flown under the radar in a restrained Budget, with no big spending measures and no major cuts apart from the university funding changes announced last week.

National Science Statement Released


The Australian government has set out a plan to use science to engage and enrich Australian society. Its objectives are to engage all Australians with science, building scientific skills, produce new research and technology, and improve Australians’ lives through research.

“The National Science Statement sets out admirable objectives, but also shows how the Commonwealth government is failing to put those aims into practice. Most observers would agree that refining and applying science is vital for a civilised future. The Statement reveals some worrying trends.

On Blackouts and Renewable Energy


Politicians have blamed South Australia’s recent blackout on its reliance on renewable energy. Is this a valid concern for the state’s energy security?

The SA blackouts had nothing to do with the State’s move to clean energy. The distribution network was affected by a storm. The problem would have been exactly the same if SA used coal or nuclear power to provide its electricity.

Climate Change Authority Report “Untrue and Dangerous”


The Climate Change Authority has called for the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, but two members of its board, David Karoly and Clive Hamilton, have since issued a dissenting minority report calling for stronger measures to reduce emissions.

“Karoly and Hamilton point out that the Climate Change Authority’s report is inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations. In 2014, the Climate Change Authority recommended a carbon budget through to 2050. The new report rapidly blows our carbon budget. By accepting the current government’s targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts, it creates a crunch point for emissions reduction in 2030 that we can’t possibly achieve. The new CCA report is contradictory with the Authority’s 2014 report and with Australia’s role in keeping global warming below 2°C.”