By Georgina Kenyon
Earlier this year, the term "bat tornado" started appearing in the Australian and international media. It all started with a BBC report from the town of Ingham in the northeastern state of Queensland, where the population of flying fox bats had apparently "exploded" over the last two years, leaving residents fed up with their noise and smell.
Travelers in Search of Wood and Water<p>The Australian mainland has four species of flying fox — also known as <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zambia-incredible-flight-of-the-fruit-bats/a-36825859" target="_blank">fruit bats</a> — two of which are listed as nationally protected species. Some can reach a wingspan of 1.5 meters.</p><p>Flying fox camps have been likened to railway stations, where crowds of the animals come and go each day. They may travel up to 50 kilometers (30 miles) in a single night, and 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) seasonally, depending on food availability. </p><p>They also need a good source of water, drinking small amounts frequently to stay hydrated without weighing themselves down in flight. Susan Island, located in the middle of the Clarence River that runs through the city of Grafton, has become an ideal congregation spot. </p><p>But climate change and deforestation are making their movements less predictable. As their habitat is lost or water sources dry up, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/australia-heat-wave-brain-frying-bats/a-42078045" target="_blank">they seek refuge</a> in urban or suburban areas. "They're being forced into areas they would not normally be," said Tim Pearson, an ecologist and chair of the NGO Sydney Bats. </p><p>And while some Australian towns may be seeing an influx of flying foxes, nationally, their numbers have dropped significantly. </p>
Perishing in the Heat<p>Extreme temperatures over recent years have wiped out thousands — sometimes even tens of thousands — of animals at a time, with media reports showing heaps of corpses where they have fallen from trees suffering extreme heat stress.</p><p>Australia experienced the hottest November on record this year, with temperatures reaching the mid-40 degrees Celsius in some regions.</p><p>And bats are more exposed to heat in towns and suburbs where they don't have the protection of thick forest. </p><p>"This latest catastrophe to befall some of Australia's largest bat species is a symptom of a much larger problem — Australia's deforestation crisis," said Matt Brennan, head of Tasmania-based Wilderness Society. "Eastern Australia is now a designated global deforestation hotspot, alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo." </p>
Extending a Helping Hand<p>Some towns are trying to help them. Yarra City council in Melbourne has installed sprinkler systems where flying foxes come to breed in huge colonies on the Yarra River, to try and keep them cool. </p><p>And along the Parramatta River in Sydney, the New South Wales state government has helped fund a project to plant trees to provide the bats with more habitat and shade.</p><p>However, these well-intentioned interventions don't always hit the mark. Pearson says sprinklers can startle heat-exhausted animals, increasing their stress levels. And ultimately, making urban environments more hospitable to bats is no substitute for preserving the forests where they are naturally at home.</p><p>"You can plant trees to give the flying foxes more habitat, but the real problem is climate change and ongoing deforestation," said Pearson. </p>
Bats Need Forests, and Forests Need Bats<p>While flying foxes suffer from loss of trees, loss of fruit bats is, in turn, bad news for trees. As flying foxes pop their heads into flowers to feed on nectar, or consume fruit and excrete the seeds, they help eucalypts, melaleucas, banksias and many species of rainforest trees and vines, to reproduce.</p><p>Pearson warns that if we don't address climate change and halt deforestation, Australia's flying fox numbers will fall so low within the next few decades, they will no longer be able perform this vital role.</p><p>"I think they will survive in some pockets along the coast where there is food and water," he said, "but they will not be acting as the pollinators and seed dispersers that are so necessary for our forests to survive." </p>
Learning to Love Our Winged Neighbors<p>Pearson is among the flying fox's fiercest defenders. He's studying their vocalizations and says the din their human neighbors complain about is actually the highly developed communication of an intelligent and intensely social species. </p><p>He wants the public to stop seeing them as disease-carrying invaders and start appreciating fruit bats for the extraordinary animals they are: "It's through educating people, raising awareness about how important these flying foxes are for ecosystem health that we may be able to save them."</p><p>In Grafton, spectators now sometimes gather to watch them on their nightly search for food. </p><p>"When I realized people were coming from around Australia just to see the bats here out of curiosity, I started to find out more about them, appreciate them," said Taylor. "People actually row out to the island to see them!" </p><p>"I guess the bats are kind of funky," she admits.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/flying-foxes-australias-love-hate-relationship-with-fruit-bats/a-55949095" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649780401#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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A new report about Australia's wildlife loss following the 2019-2020 wildfires reveals a staggering number. The sobering findings, calculated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Australia, determined that 143 million native mammals were likely killed, including more than 61,000 koalas.
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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The world's largest sand island has been on fire for the past six weeks due to a campfire, and Australia's firefighters have yet to prevent flames from destroying the fragile ecosystem.
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<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="66e96cfe30fcf28f0f7e431798a2b9db"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/greenpeaceaustraliapacific/posts/10159290307392971"></div></div>Like your style Victoria! 🎉💪😎
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In a giant step forward for the Tasmanian devil, the iconic species has been reintroduced to Australia's mainland in a protected, disease-free area, The Guardian reported.
By Hao Tan, Elizabeth Thurbon, John Mathews, Sung-Young Kim
China's President Xi Jinping surprised the global community recently by committing his country to net-zero emissions by 2060. Prior to this announcement, the prospect of becoming "carbon neutral" barely rated a mention in China's national policies.
Goodbye, Fossil Fuels<p>Coal is currently used to generate <a href="https://ieefa.org/coals-share-of-china-electricity-generation-dropped-below-60-in-2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">about 60%</a> of China's electricity. Coal must be phased out for China to meet its climate target, unless technologies such as carbon-capture and storage become commercially viable.</p><p>Natural gas is <a href="https://chineseclimatepolicy.energypolicy.columbia.edu/en/natural-gas" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increasingly used</a> in China for heating and transport, as an alternative to coal and petrol. To achieve carbon neutrality, China must dramatically reduce its gas use.</p><p>Electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles must also come to dominate road transport - currently they account for <a href="http://www.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2020-01/08/c_1125433202.htm" target="_blank">less than 2%</a> of the total fleet.</p><p>China must also slash the production of carbon-intensive steel, cement and chemicals, unless they can be powered by renewable electricity or zero-emissions hydrogen. One <a href="https://www.energy-transitions.org/publications/china-2050-a-fully-developed-rich-zero-carbon-economy/" target="_blank">report</a> suggests meeting the target will mean most of China's steel is produced using recycled steel, in a process powered by renewable electricity.</p><p><a href="https://www.energy-transitions.org/publications/china-2050-a-fully-developed-rich-zero-carbon-economy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Modeling</a> in that report suggests China's use of iron ore – and the coking coal required to process it into steel – will decrease by 75%. The implications for Australia's mining industry would be huge; around <a href="https://minerals.org.au/minerals/ironore" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">80%</a> of our iron ore is exported to China.</p><p>It is critically important for Australian industries and policymakers to assess the seriousness of China's pledge and the likelihood it will be delivered. Investment plans for large mining projects should then be reconsidered accordingly.</p><p><span></span>Conversely, China's path towards a carbon neutral economy may open up new export opportunities for Australia, such as "green" hydrogen.</p>
A Renewables Revolution<p>Solar and wind currently account for <a href="https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html" target="_blank">10% of China's total power generation</a>. For China to meet the net-zero goal, renewable energy generation would have to ramp up dramatically. This is needed for two reasons: to replace the lost coal-fired power capacity, and to provide the larger electricity needs of transport and heavy industry.</p><p>Two factors are likely to reduce energy demand in China in coming years. First, energy efficiency in the building, transport and manufacturing sectors is likely to improve. Second, the economy is moving <a href="https://apjjf.org/2018/10/Tan.html" target="_blank">away</a> from energy- and pollution-intensive production, towards an economy based on services and digital technologies.</p><p>It's in China's interests to take greater action on climate change. Developing renewable energy helps China build new "green" export industries, secure its energy supplies and improve air and water quality.</p>
The Global Picture<p>It's worth considering what factors may have motivated China's announcement, beyond the desire to do good for the climate.</p><p>In recent years, China has been viewed with increasing hostility on the world stage, especially by Western nations. Some <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/09/23/asia-pacific/china-carbon-neutral-2060/" target="_blank">commentators</a> have suggested China's climate pledge is a bid to improve its global image.</p><p>The pledge also gives China the high ground over a major antagonist, the US, which under President Donald Trump has walked away from its international obligations on climate action. China's pledge follows similar ones by the European Union, New Zealand, California and others. It sets an example for other developing nations to follow, and puts pressure on Australia to do the same.</p><p>The European Union has also been <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/europe-urges-china-to-match-its-climate-ambitions/" target="_blank">urging China</a> to take stronger climate action. The fact Xi made the net-zero pledge at a United Nations meeting suggests it was largely targeted at an international, rather than Chinese, audience.</p><p>However, the international community will judge China's pledge on how quickly it can implement specific, measurable short- and mid-term targets for net-zero emissions, and whether it has the policies in place to ensure the goal is delivered by 2060.</p><p>Much is resting on China's next <a href="https://chinadialogue.net/en/climate/11434-the-14th-five-year-plan-what-ideas-are-on-the-table/" target="_blank">Five Year Plan</a> – a policy blueprint created every five years to steer the economy towards various priorities. The latest plan, covering 2021–25, is being developed. It will be examined closely for measures such as phasing out coal and more ambitious targets for renewables.</p><p>Also key is whether the recent <a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-why-chinas-co2-emissions-grew-4-during-first-half-of-2019" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">rebound</a> of China's carbon emissions – following a fall from 2013 to 2016 – can be reversed.</p>
Wriggle Room<p>The 2060 commitment is bold, but China may look to leave itself wriggle room in several ways.</p><p>First, Xi declared in his speech that China will "aim to" achieve carbon neutrality, leaving open the option his nation may not meet the target.</p><p>Second, the Paris Agreement states that developed nations should provide financial <a href="https://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/convention/application/pdf/english_paris_agreement.pdf" target="_blank">resources and technological support</a> to help developing countries reduce their emissions. China may make its delivery of the pledge conditional on this support.</p><p>Third, China may seek to game the way carbon neutrality is measured – for example, by insisting it excludes carbon emissions "embodied" in imports and exports. This move is quite likely, given exports account for a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140988316302432" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">significant share</a> of China's total greenhouse gas emissions.</p><p>So for the time being, the world is holding its applause for China's commitment to carbon neutrality. Like every nation, China will be judged not on its climate promises, but on its delivery.</p>
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Stuart Braun
"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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The chief executive officer and two senior executives are being forced out of the mining giant Rio Tinto several months after investors started to revolt over the company's destruction of an ancient aboriginal rock shelter, according to CNN.
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By Gregory Moore
With massive fronds creating a luxuriously green canopy in the understory of Australian forests, tree ferns are a familiar sight on many long drives or bushwalks. But how much do you really know about them?
Ferns are often the first plants to grow back after bushfires. Greg Moore, Author provided
Ancient Family Ties<p>Tree ferns are generally slow growing, at rates of just 25-50 millimeters height increase per year. This means the tall individuals you might spot in a mature forest may be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5426625/#:%7E:text=The%20tree%20fern%20species%20in,grow%20to%2020m%20%5B16%5D." target="_blank">several centuries old</a>.</p><p>However, in the right environment they can grow faster, so guessing their real age can be tricky, especially if they're growing outside their usual forest environment.</p><p>As a plant group, tree ferns are ancient, dating back <a href="https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/ferns-the-glory-of-the-forest/" target="_blank">hundreds of millions of years</a> and pre-dating dinosaurs.</p><p>They existed on earth long before the flowering or cone-bearing plants evolved, and were a significant element of the earth's flora during the <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/prehistoric-world/carboniferous/" target="_blank">Carboniferous</a> period 300-360 million years ago, when conditions for plant growth were near ideal. This explains why ferns don't reproduce by flowers, fruits or cones, but by more primitive spores.</p><p>In fact, fossilized tree ferns and their relatives called the fern allies laid down during the carboniferous then have provided much of the earth's fossil fuels dating from that period. And tree ferns were a great <a href="https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/9452631" target="_blank">food source</a>, with Indigenous people once <a href="https://museumsvictoria.com.au/bunjilaka/about-us/the-plants-of-milarri-garden/" target="_blank">eating the pulp</a> that occurs in the center of the tree fern stem either raw or roasted as a starch.</p><p>Until recent times, ferns were quiet achievers among plant groups with an expanding number of species and greater numbers. Today, human activities are limiting <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/28b03b9a-2b02-4a50-82d0-54697736ab6e/files/threatened-tasmanian-ferns.pdf" target="_blank">their success</a> by the clearing of forests and agricultural practices. Climate change is also a more recent threat to many fern species.</p>
Species You’ve Probably Seen<p>Two of the more common tree fern species of south eastern Australia are <em><a href="https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/cyathea-spp.html" target="_blank">Cyathea australis</a></em> and <a href="https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2003/dicksonia-antarctica.html" target="_blank"><em>Dicksonia antarctica</em></a>. Both species have a wide distribution, extending from Queensland down the Australian coast and into Tasmania.</p><p>They're often found growing near each other along rivers and creeks. They look superficially alike and many people would be unaware that they are entirely different species at first glance. That is, until you look closely at the detail of their fronds and run your fingers down the stalks.</p><p><em>C. australis</em> has a rough almost prickly frond, hence its common name of rough tree fern, and can grow to be 25 meters tall. While <em>D. antarctica</em>, as the soft tree fern, has a smooth and sometimes furry frond and rarely grows above 15 meters.</p><p>Both contribute to the lush green appearance of the understory of wet forests dominated by eucalypts, such as mountain ash (<em>Eucalyptus regnans</em>).</p>
Stems That Host a Tiny Ecosystem<p>The way tree ferns grow is quite complex. That's because growth, even of the roots, originates from part of the apex of the stem. If this crown is damaged, then the fern can die.</p><p>At the right time of the year, the new fronds unfurl in the crown from a coil called a fiddlehead. The stem of the tree fern is made up of all of the retained leaf bases of the fronds from previous years.</p><p>The stems are very fibrous and quite strong, which means they tend to retain moisture. And this is one of the reasons why the stems of tree ferns don't easily burn in bushfires — even when they're dry or dead.</p><p>In some dense wet forest communities, the stems of tree ferns are a miniature ecosystem, with epiphytic plants — such as mosses, translucent filmy ferns, perhaps lichens and the seedlings of other plant species — growing on them.</p><p>These epiphytes are not bad for the tree ferns, they're just looking for a place to live, and the fibrous, nutrient-rich, moist tree fern stems prove brilliantly suitable.</p>
Engulfed by Trees<p>Similarly, the spreading canopies of tree ferns, such as <em>D. antarctica</em>, provide an excellent place for trees and other species to germinate.</p><p>That's because many plants need good light for their seedlings to establish and this may not be available on the forest floor. Seeds, such as those of the native (or myrtle) beech, <em>Nothofagus cunninghamii</em>, may germinate in the crowns of tree ferns, and its roots can grow down the tree fern trunks and into the soil.</p><p>As time passes, the tree species may completely grow over the tree fern, engulfing the tree fern stem into its trunk. Decades, or even centuries later, it's sometimes still possible to see the old tree fern stem embedded inside.</p><p><span></span>Still, tree ferns are wonderfully resilient and give a sense of permanence to our ever-changing fire-affected landscapes.</p>
A professional cycling race in Australia is under attack for its connections to a major oil and gas producer, the Guardian reports.
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