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Expert Opinion

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

Annual Climate Statement: 2015 Was a Hot Year


The Bureau of Meteorology has released its Annual Climate Statement for 2015.

The statement is at Below, one of the statement's authors and some third-party experts comment on the report.


"2015 has seen the globe record its warmest year since records began, and it’s been warm in Australia as well. Overall, it was Australia's fifth-warmest year on record.

Climate Deal Signed in Paris


After two weeks of negotiating, the representatives of more than 190 nations have settled on a agreed plan to tackle climate change.

The agreement sets the goal of limiting the world's rise in average temperature to "well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius".

Countries will be required to report on "national inventories of emissions by source" and also to report on their mitigation efforts.

Professor James Renwick, Climate Scientist, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University, comments:

Nuclear Waste Sites Shortlisted


The Federal government has shortlisted six sites for a permanent National Radioactive Waste Management Facility. The site will contain Australia’s low-level radoactive waste, with the capacity to store some intermediate-level waste.

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2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year on Record

By Science Media Centre New Zealand

2015 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

This year's global average surface temperature is likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era, according to a statement from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This is due to a combination of a strong El Niño and human-induced global warming, the UN agency says.

The years 2011-2015 have been the warmest 5-year period on record, with many extreme weather events - especially heatwaves - influenced by climate change, according to a WMO five-year analysis.

Epigenetic Markers Predict Male Sexual Orientation

By Australian Science Media Centre

Epigenetic differences between male twins has been used to identify sexual orientation with up to 70% accuracy, according to unpublished results presented at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 annual meeting.

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Liquid water on Mars


Salty streaks identified by an orbiting spacecraft could be the first solid evidence of liquid water - a key ingredient for life as we know it - on Mars.


Professor Geraint Lewis is Professor of Astrophysics & ARC Future Fellow at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and Associate Head for Research in the School of Physics, The University of Sydney.

“Mars appears to be a cold, dry planet, but observations over the years have revealed streaks on the surface that come and go with the seasons. In this new paper, Ojha have uncovered the signature for salts in the streaks, critical evidence for the streaks having formed by flowing, or at least dribbling, water.

Can You Catch Alzheimer’s from Growth Hormones?

Brain damage found in autopsies of patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease acquired from growth hormone injections is strikingly similar to the damage done by Alzheimer’s disease.

Compiled by the Australian Science Media Centre

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Genetic Sprays Use RNA Interference to Combat Pests

Monsanto is developing sprays to control weeds and insect pests by temporarily altering their genetics through RNA interference as an alternative to developing new GM crops, and could also be used to introduce traits like drought resistance.

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Should Doctors Recommend Homeopathy?


A debate in the British Medical Journal has argued about whether the report into the evidence for homeopathy by Australia’s NHMRC omitted key pieces of evidence.

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2015 Federal Budget: Announcements and Expert Responses

By Australian Science Media Centre

Experts comment on how the 2015 federal Budget will impact research, health and science.

Federal budget: summary of major announcements

Australian Consensus Centre
$4.0 million over four years from 2014-15 to help establish the Australian Consensus

The Government will provide $150.0 million in 2016-17. $150 million had already been allocated for 2015-16

University research block grants
The Sustainable Research Excellence component of the university block grant will be cut by $260 million over the forward estimates, and by $150.0 million in 2016-17 alone

Antarctic science