Biden and natural gas: Is it cleaner energy or climate threat?

Proponents of natural gas, which burns cleaner than coal, say it offers a bridge fuel to sustain the economy and limit climate change as renewable energy comes online. Exporting liquefied natural gas to Asia could also give the U.S. geopolitical leverage against Russia and Middle Eastern countries.

Yet methane, the largest component of natural gas, is a notoriously potent heat-trapper, which could present a conundrum for Joe Biden and his climate plan. One the one hand, the Democratic presidential candidate has proposed rejoining the Paris Agreement and tightly regulating greenhouse gas emissions. On the other, Mr. Biden supports fracking, and his team of energy advisers includes fossil fuel executives.

The debate over America’s energy future is playing out in Oregon’s southwest corner, home to Jordan Cove, a proposed LNG project that could open up markets in Asia while providing jobs at home. Opponents cite scientific evidence that natural gas is not nearly as clean as it is made out to be. 

“We can’t continue to pull fossil fuels out of the ground and put them in the air and expect to have a livable planet,” says Susan Jane Brown, an attorney who has long fought the project. “It’s a nonstarter.” 

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project’s environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month’s deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. “It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change,” she says. 

Jordan Cove, the $10-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that Ms. Brown is trying to stop, has yet to break ground. But environmental lawsuits and permitting delays aren’t the only barriers. A calamitous crash in natural gas prices and a glut of LNG capacity have cast doubts over its commercial viability and, more broadly, the easy promise of converting abundant U.S. gas into a global commodity and geopolitical tool. 

“There’s too much oil. There’s too much gas. There’s not enough demand,” says Clark Williams-Derry at the liberal-leaning Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Still, even if projects like Jordan Cove are shelved, several other LNG terminals on the Gulf Coast already have all their permits and are waiting to secure financing. Their expansion over the next five years would make the U.S. the world’s largest LNG producer, creating jobs at home and opening new markets in energy-hungry Asia. 

Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/AP/File

Environmental protesters storm the Capitol in Salem, Ore., on November 21, 2019, to demand that the State reject proposals by Canadian energy giant Pembina for the Jordan Cove Energy Project which if approved would see the construction of a liquefied natural gas export terminal at the International Port of Coos Bay fed by an associated 229 mile Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline.

For a future Biden administration, that’s a wrinkle in any serious climate plan. Once built, these LNG plants would potentially lock in decades of heat-trapping emissions that are already hurling the planet toward a hotter, less stable future. “Once you build the infrastructure it’s there, and it gets run on a different economic basis than if it’s not there,” says Mr. Williams-Derry, who tracks the LNG industry. 

Proponents say natural gas is cleaner than the coal that it replaces both in the U.S., where it now produces around 40% of electricity, and in countries like India and China. That makes it a “bridge fuel” to a fully renewable energy future that hasn’t yet arrived, says Fred Hutchison, president and CEO of LNG Allies, an industry group. “Gas can continue to be part of a low-carbon energy system globally,” he says. 

He predicts that LNG firms would be comfortable with a Biden presidency. “He’s got a great affinity for working people and labor, and labor is very much on board with regards to LNG,” he says. 

On the campaign trail, Mr. Biden has gotten heat over his support for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which left-leaning Democrats oppose but which is seen as important for winning Pennsylvania, a battleground state in November’s election. Far less attention has been paid to where the oil and gas goes, and whether support for LNG exports is compatible with Mr. Biden’s clean-energy agenda and plans for tackling climate change. 

“It’s not going to save the climate if we’re just exporting our emissions overseas,” says Collin Rees, a campaigner for Oil Change U.S., an environmental nonprofit. 

Moderates feeling the heat

If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas. 

The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. 

Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden’s reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. 

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about climate change and wildfires affecting western states, on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. The Biden climate platform states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, depending on the implementation.

In a letter sent earlier this month, Mr. Rees and other signatories urged Mr. Biden to ban “all fossil fuel executives, lobbyists, and representatives” from any future administration. 

That Obama-era moderates are under fire over their climate bona fides is a measure of rising leftist clout in the Democratic coalition. It also reflects how the climate debate has shifted since Biden was in office, in response to extreme weather events and troubling scientific findings. This includes research into lifecycle emissions from natural gas production and methane leaks and flaring that muddies the argument that it’s a transition fuel to a carbon-free future. 

“We’ve gotten more proof on the science that switching to gas is not enough,” says Mr. Rees.  

The push for U.S. fuel exports

As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.  

That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as “freedom gas.” 

Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. 

Still, Trump’s foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. 

Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. “That’s a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world,” says Mr. Hutchison. 

Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. “U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that’s focused on methane emissions and intensity,” says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. 

Stepping on the gas

In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove’s developer, Canada’s Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide “reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world.”

As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon. 

But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. “They are putting infrastructure in a state where there’s no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas,” she says.  

Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it’s only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. 

“I don’t see this country turning off the natural gas spigot anytime soon and I don’t see a President Biden doing that either,” she says. But she does expect a decisive shift on climate policy that could eventually force a reckoning for the U.S. energy sector. 

“We can’t continue to pull fossil fuels out of the ground and put them in the air and expect to have a livable planet. It’s a nonstarter,” she says. 

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The Great Rethink: It’s time to reassess how our provinces manage natural resource wealth

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“Governments aren’t always effective in placing the money in the right spots,” he said. “The future wealth is disappearing because of incompetent management.”

Oddly, Canada’s most disadvantaged communities follow the Hartwick Rule to the letter and, partly due to strict regulations, have turned physical assets into financial assets.

The future wealth is disappearing because of incompetent management

Werner Antweiler

Laurence Booth, a professor of finance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said the Indian Act requires that one asset be replaced with another, so bands have been forced to save their resource wealth and, in a frustrating exercise for many bands, ask the federal government before they’re allowed to spend.

Jim Boucher, the former long-time chief of the Fort McKay First Nation in northern Alberta, said his community has been saving natural resource revenues as required in a trust, which has helped diversify the community’s revenues and now generates $5 million per year.

“Our philosophy was that we never had a deficit because we couldn’t rely on anybody to bail us out,” he said.

Jim Boucher, chief of the Fort McKay First Nation in northern Alberta, in 2014. Photo by Vincent McDermott/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network files

Asked whether it’s frustrating that the provincial governments haven’t followed the same strict rules, Boucher said Canadian provincial governments have a history of running deficits.

“We didn’t want to be like the province,” he said.

Political calculus has been a driving factor in many resource-wealth decisions in Canada over the years, and that has led to some questionable decisions.

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Queensland surgeon Dr William Braun has suspension lifted by Supreme Court ruling he was denied natural justice

A Queensland surgeon being investigated over allegations of medical negligence and sexual misconduct has had his work suspension lifted by the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

Dr William Braun took Queensland Health and the Metro North Hospital and Health Service (MNHHS) executive to court, arguing his suspension had a “very serious” adverse effect on his reputation and that he had suffered “drastic” financial losses in the year since he stopped working.

In February 2019, Dr Braun was stood down with full pay over a series of accusations that were originally raised in State Parliament by Opposition MP Ros Bates.

MNHHS executive Dr Elizabeth Rushbrook referred the allegations to the Office of the Health Ombudsman, which is still investigating claims against Dr Braun, including inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and surgical malpractice.

Lawyers for Dr Braun argued in the Supreme Court their client was denied natural justice and not afforded an opportunity to make submissions against the suspension order.

They also argued the original decision to suspend Dr Braun, and subsequent decisions reinforcing the suspension, were an improper exercise of power.

During the hearing, the court heard while Dr Braun was still receiving his $113,000 salary from Queensland Health, it was only a “fraction” of what he earned from his work in private practice.

The court heard Dr Braun had lost about $2.3 million in 12 months.

Supreme Court Justice Frances Williams today ruled Dr Braun was not afforded natural justice.

She said the decision to suspend Dr Braun, and subsequent decisions, “are declared to be of no force or effect”.

Justice Williams ordered Dr Rushbrook and the MNHHS to pay Dr Braun’s legal costs.

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Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards ceremony goes digital

Most of us humans have spent a fair bit of time at home lately.

But while we’ve all been inside, the animal kingdom’s circle of life keeps on turning — and some of the beauty of it has been captured by talented snappers in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

The Natural History Museum has released a selection of this year’s Highly Commended entries, with the competition’s overall winners to be announced on October 13.

Some Australian images made the Highly Commended list, like these cheeky possums captured by Gary Meredith in Yallingup, WA.(Gary Meredith/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

For the first time in the competition’s 56-year history, the awards ceremony will be held virtually amid coronavirus and related travel restrictions.

This year’s competition, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, attracted close to 50,000 entries from professionals and amateurs from around the world.

The ceremony will be streamed from the museum’s famous Hintze Hall in London.

Crocodile covered in its babies
Dhritiman Mukherjee captured this busy picture of a male gharial covered in his offspring in northern India.(Dhritiman Mukherjee/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Judge and executive director of Science at the Natural History Museum Tim Littlewood said the competition attracts the world’s best naturalists and photographers, including up-and-coming young talent.

“There has never been a more vital time for audiences all over the world to re-engage with the natural world, and what better way than this inspiring and provocative exhibition,” Dr Littlewood said.

“We hope that this year’s exhibition will provide an opportunity for audiences to pause, reflect and ignite a passion of advocating for the natural world.”

Hippo covered in mud
Jose Fragozo’s entry of a hippopotamus emerging from the mud was taken in Kenya’s Mara River in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.(Jose Fragozo/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Judging panel chair Roz Kidman Cox said more than 25 nationalities were represented in this year’s entries.

“Several of my favourite images from the competition — the ones that I can look at again and again — are among the commended pictures,” she said.

“But then all the commended images are effectively winners, being among the top 100 awarded by the jury out of more than 49,000.

“What especially stands out are the images from the young photographers — the next generation of image-makers passionate about the natural world.”

Monkey sits in tree
Arshdeep Singh, 13, entered this picture of this threatened species into the 11-14 age group.(Arshdeep Singh/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

One of the Highly Commended images released by the Museum was of a striking douc, photographed by teenager Arshdeep Singh.

The 13-year-old’s entry of the critically endangered primate stood out to the judges, with the process of capturing the image described like this:

“Arshdeep was impassioned when he read about the critically endangered red-shanked douc langur that is threatened by habitat loss, hunting and trade.

“Arshdeep struggled to keep his telephoto lens steady but he took his chance and when the langur glanced directly at him, Arshdeep knew it was the moment he’d researched for.”

An exhibition of images judged in this year’s competition will open on October 16 at the Natural History Museum in London, before making its way around the world.

Last year’s winner, photographed by Yongqing Bao, was described by judges as “the perfect moment”.

A fox closes in on a marmot which can be seen shrieking.
Most of us can relate to this marmot’s face in the 2019 competition’s winning photo.(Supplied: Yongqing Bao)

The emotive image of a marmot trying to escape a Tibetan fox was snapped in China’s Qilian Mountains.

Bao captured the rare image after stalking the two animals for some time, watching their interactions.

“This compelling picture captures nature’s ultimate challenge — its battle for survival,” director of the National History Museum Sir Michael Dixon said.

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Natural disasters – Why California is experiencing its worst fires on record | United States

THE WEBCAM above her nest shows Iniko, a four-month-old California condor, high in the trees of the Ventana wilderness area, looking out as flames advance towards her. She is part of a 20-year breeding programme to reintroduce the giant birds, which were extinct in the wild, to California’s central coast. She is alone—her parents have fled the danger—and cannot yet fly. At 10:40pm on August 20th the webcam shows a flash of wing feathers, then the live stream goes dark, as the flames, presumably, engulf the nest.

Had the fire been in a previous year, Iniko would probably have been old enough to fly: the worst of the fire season takes place in September or October. But the season of 2020 has started early and with astonishing force. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said that there had been over 700 wildfires between August 15th and 26th, burning 1.3m acres (500,000 hectares). That is two-thirds as much, in just 12 days, as burned as in the whole of 2018, the worst year to date, and the season has not yet reached its peak. The two biggest conflagrations, one east of San Jose, the other north of San Francisco, are the state’s second- and third-largest on record. Gavin Newsom, the governor, was not exaggerating when he said: “We simply haven’t seen anything like this in many, many years.”

Some previous fires have been man-made. One started when a car tyre blew and the wheel’s metal rim scraped the pavement. This year’s fires are the latest and starkest example of a different man-made influence: climate change.

On August 16th a monitoring station in Death Valley measured a temperature of 54.4°C (130°F). If confirmed, that would be the highest reliably recorded anywhere on Earth. It may reflect a broader trend of global warming hitting Californians harder than most places. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, temperatures in many parts of the state, including Santa Clara County, which is being scorched by the largest of the fires, rose by 2°C between 1895 and 2018, roughly twice the global average.

The state is drier as well as hotter. California has experienced droughts throughout history, but the one between 2011 and 2019 was the longest and driest recorded. According to a study in Nature Geoscience in 2019, that drought killed almost 150m trees, leading to a state of emergency in 2019 intended to help reduce the huge build-up of flammable dead wood. Too late. Drought returned this year, when the state had its driest February on record (matters improved a bit later). A recent study in Environmental Research Letters by Michael Goss of Stanford University and others found that climate change had doubled the number of days of extreme risk for wildfires in the state during autumn.

There is some evidence that climate change is also increasing the danger of lightning strikes, which (rather than burst tyres) lit the inferno this season. Northern California’s fires began after a massive electrical storm passed over the Bay Area in mid-August, producing, said CAL FIRE, 11,000 strikes in three days. According to a study published in 2014 in Science by David Romps of the University of California, Berkeley, climate models suggest the number of lightning strikes across the continental United States could rise by about 12% for every degree of global warming (though another study, in Nature, questions the link with climate change).

Such change has not worked its destruction unaided. Mistaken policies have made the forests more vulnerable, especially the decades-long suppression of wildfires. Fires thin out the dense, flammable undergrowth. Preventing them—as a study in Science pointed out as long ago as 2006—increases what is called fuel loading and turns forests into tinder boxes. Frank Lake of the US Forest Service talks of a tipping-point: “There is too much fuel loading; it is too warm and the probability of ignition is greater.” That summarises what has happened this season.

Considering the vastness of the fires and their position—on the edge of the Bay Area, home to more than 7m people—the cost in human life could have been far greater. Seven people had died by August 25th. Californians have learned the lessons of previous fires, such as the one in 2018 which destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people: evacuate early. Southerners fleeing Laura, a mighty hurricane that hit the Gulf coast on August 27th, will follow the same guidance.

So far, the responses of state and federal governments have held up fairly well in California, despite ritual hazing by the Democratic governor and Republican president. Donald Trump declared a major disaster, speeding federal funds to those who had lost their homes. And this week firefighters seemed to be making progress.

Still, California’s many crises—covid-19, fires and rolling blackouts—are overlapping, which hampers a long-term response. Early this year, the governor proposed spending $100m to make existing houses more fire-resistant (replacing wooden shingles with tiles, for example). He had to suspend the programme because of a state budget crisis caused by covid-19.

In 2008 another condor chick was caught in a fire and miraculously survived. She was, inevitably, renamed Phoenix. Iniko, alas, need not be renamed. Her name means “born in troubled times”.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “The condor’s cry”

Reuse this contentThe Trust Project

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Hurricane-related shut-ins curb 82% of oil, 59% of natural gas output in U.S. Gulf of Mexico, regulator says

FILE PHOTO: A fuel pump is wrapped closed with plastic ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Laura in Beaumont, Texas, U.S., August 26, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File Photo

August 29, 2020

HOUSTON (Reuters) – U.S. energy companies continued to restaff offshore oil and gas production facilities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Interior.

There were 122 facilities that were reoccupied, the data showed. Crude oil production was down 82%, or 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) and natural gas production was off 59%, or 1.6 billion cubic feet per day (mmcfd), it said.

There were 189 platforms or drilling rigs in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that remains unmanned early Saturday, it reported, down from 310 unoccupied facilities on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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Australia Remastered restores ABC Natural History Unit films, not seen for decades, to share with a new audience

Forget movies, soapies or reality TV shows.

For wildlife documentary maker Jeremy Hogarth, there’s nothing more compelling than watching life unfold in the natural world.

“There’s competition, there’s aggression, there’s submission, individual animals are doing what they do because that’s what they’re basically hardwired to do.

“For example, in a mob of kangaroos, a male kangaroo must become dominant and within that fight for dominance there’s drama, which, in a way, makes you think about the way we live our lives.”

Jeremy Hogarth on location on the Arnhem Land Escarpment, filming ‘The Big Wet’ for the ABC’s Natural History Unit in 1991.(Supplied: Jeremy Hogarth)

Hogarth has been involved in wildlife film production for almost half a century and worked with the ABC’s acclaimed Natural History Unit, which produced many award-winning programs for more than 30 years from the early 70s.

He was a film editor with the unit from 1975-1981 and then a producer from 1989-1995.

Now he’s come full circle and is a writer and producer on Australia Remastered, a new series showcasing the unit’s finest work — 16-mm and 35-mm films carefully preserved in the ABC archives and virtually unseen for decades.


“It’s actually amazing that the quality is as good as it is,” says Hogarth.

“So, the films from the Natural History Unit are an archive of what our continent has, or had, which is unique.

“I think to be able to go back, remaster it and show it to a new audience is very satisfying because it actually means that the work you did 30 or 40 years ago hasn’t gone to waste.”

Two men wading through muddy river, one on knees with large suitcase on back.
Hogarth and cameraman Richard Matthews getting ashore to film crocodiles on the Prince Regent River in the Kimberley in 1989.(Supplied: Jeremy Hogarth)

Hundreds of hours of film restored

The 23-part series (15 episodes airing in 2020 and 8 episodes in 2021) is hosted by Aaron Pedersen and, with fresh insights from the latest scientific research, breathes new life into films depicting Australian wildlife, from orca pods to wombat kingdoms, the dramatic landscapes of Kakadu and the Red Centre, and the vast aquatic wildernesses of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans.

Orange octopus with blue rings swimming in vivid aqua water.
The deadly but beautiful blue-ringed octopus.(Australia Remastered)

It’s a joint production between the ABC and WildBear Entertainment, which understood the value of the NHU films and pitched the idea.

“Some of the footage is getting pretty old and so the idea of preserving this incredible footage was really important — hundreds of hours of film reels have now been cleaned up, remastered, restored and scanned to be used as a digital archive,” says ABC executive producer Leo Faber.

Woman holding reel of film and looking at a section pulled out.
ABC archivist Helen Meany preparing film for scanning.(ABC News: Jon Steiner)

“Seeing a tiny Tamar wallaby crawl up its mum’s pouch is something spectacular to behold, as is the power of a pack of wild dingoes hunting down a kangaroo.

“This is a series for all of Australia to be proud of as we fight to ensure that our most threatened species have a chance to live on for centuries to come.”

Pioneers in wildlife cinematography

Archivists Natasha Marfutenko and Jon Steiner, and their team, are the custodians of the ABC’s vast film, video and audio collection and were delighted at the opportunity to share the NHU’s programs with a new audience.

“I always hoped that someday someone would do something big that really tapped into our Natural History Unit film collection,” says Steiner.

Black and white footage of divers with camera and lights filming coral.
A Natural History Unit crew filming coral in 1988.(ABC Archives)

“We sold the odd bit of footage for documentaries now and again, and occasionally a shot found its way into an ABC production, but I felt that it was an amazing resource that was just waiting for a deep dive into the myriad worlds documented within those film cans.”

“The NHU crews shot in locations ranging from Papua New Guinea to the Galapagos Islands to Antarctica and, as I understand it, pioneered many innovative tricks and techniques in the field of wildlife cinematography, including hiding a motion-sensor-equipped camera in a box, or waiting for hours in a tree, camouflaged by netting, for the animal they wanted to show up,” says Steiner.

Hogarth sitting on couch with baby wallaby eating grapes off a plate.
Hogarth with a baby rock wallaby that had been abandoned by its mother. The team rescued it during filming in Arnhem Land and later gave it to a wildlife park to be cared for.(Supplied: Jeremy Hogarth)

“The Natural History Unit was a kind of a little special entity unto itself and the people that worked in it were mostly considered crazy by the rest of the ABC,” recalls Jeremy Hogarth.

“We were all passionate about wildlife and were given remarkable latitude.

“You’d come up with a concept, talk to the experts, then head off to somewhere, like I did to the Kimberley for six months, and come back with a film.

“You’d be camping out and these were the days before mobile phones and the internet so you’d just disappear into the bush and occasionally make calls back to base when you could.

“Cameraman/producer David Parer and a sound assistant actually spent 18 months on Macquarie Island, making four films, some of which is in Australia Remastered.”

Black and white photo of Parer with camera on tripod surrounded by penguins.
Cinematographer David Parer spent 18 months filming on Macquarie Island.(ABC Archives)

Patience is everything when you’re making a wildlife program.

Hogarth once spent 14 days in Sumatra filming a never-captured-before, one-minute sequence of orangutans using a tool like humans — but it was well worth the wait.

“And it’s not for the kudos of the filming but it illustrates something that’s not been seen before and it’s pretty special. But the patience required is extreme.”

Film remastering a huge undertaking

Over three decades, the NHU produced scores of programs and amassed an enormous collection of raw production material on film, video tape, and audio tape.

These were catalogued shot by shot in a dedicated database, listing species names (both common and scientific), activities, habitats, and other details.

Jon Steiner standing on a ladder looking at a can of film in between shelves packed full of cans.
Archivist Jon Steiner amongst the vast film collection in the ABC’s storage vaults.(ABC News: Nathaniel Harding)

“On film alone, we have in our collection more than 7,000 reels of “negative outs” — these are compiles of the rolls of original negative that came out of the cameras (minus the shots that ended up in the final edits). About half of the outs reels are held in ABC vaults, with the rest in the custody of the National Archives of Australia,” says archivist Jon Steiner.

Retrieving, restoring and digitising the original footage and weaving it together with the latest science into new stories was a huge, time-consuming undertaking.

“We had a crew of over 60 people working across the last year and a half to make the show.

“We essentially started with an idea that we wanted to do an exhaustive survey of pretty much all the animal, bird and sea-life habitats and species.

A wombat in the snow.
The films are a catalogue of Australia’s iconic animals.(Australia Remastered)

“We then went through countless hours of natural history film reels to identify the very best scenes of wildlife behaviour.

“From there we crafted five primary focus areas — our iconic species, the unique environments and habitats, conflict between species and hunting, ocean life and finally the forces of nature that shape our continent.”

Scanning machine with film feel on spool and man looking at bird on screen.
The ABC’s film scanner digitising some Natural History Unit footage – the Australia Remastered producers used a slightly different scanner.(ABC News: Jon Steiner)

“The scale of the film preparation, cleaning and scanning that needed to take place for Australia Remastered was significant — it ended up being more than 2,000 reels of film,” says Steiner.

“It was going to be far more than we could incorporate into our regular workflow, so we worked with WildBear, who provided resources to install and operate a second scanner, running in shifts and on weekends.

“A lot of film was held at the National Archives of Australia, so the Lending team there played a vital role in the project.

“We sent them large lists of the film reels we needed and they retrieved them, conditioned them up to room temperature for transport, and made them available for collection — boxes and boxes of film cans each week, for months.

“And after scanning was done, they had to receive it all back and re-shelve it.

“It was a huge surge in work for them and they really helped us out.”

Penguin and colony in background on icy landscape.
A scene from an episode on the Southern Ocean.(Australia Remastered)

And while the ABC archive team, Natasha Marfutenko, Jon Steiner, and Helen Meany and Amber Sierek already knew what cinematic treasures were to be found in the ABC vaults, they’ve been blown away by the remastering and reimagining of the original footage.

“The sun setting over the Kimberley, or a baby stripe-faced dunnart nestling with its mum, or a trumpet manucode sitting in its nest, or a tasselled wobbegong resting on the ocean floor.

Aerial of bright blue sea and sandy and red dirt shoreline.
The series captures the country’s stunning landscapes from the coast to the Red Centre.(Australia Remastered)

“It was breathtaking. High-resolution scanning really brought out the cinematic quality and richness of colour of the material.

“Australia Remastered has done the material justice in ways beyond my wildest dreams.

“I am always very happy when anything from the ABC Archives can be once again enjoyed by contemporary audiences, but this … this is next level!”

Australia Remastered airs on ABC TV and iview on Sundays at 6pm from August 30

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Self-strangulation – As natural disasters strike, North Korea cuts itself off | Asia

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Enjoy Natural Results With Surgical Labia Contouring

Enjoy Natural Results With Surgical Labia Contouring : Many different factors can have an impact on the size and shape of the labia, and some women struggle with a large or asymmetrical labia minora that impacts everything from their daily comfort to their sexual health.

If you are tired of dealing with medical or cosmetic issues as a result of your labia minora, then it might be time to consider labiaplasty and vaginoplasty. These procedures have very high success rates, and you could experience a wide array of benefits following your operation.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Labia Minor Reduction

The traditional labia minora reduction procedure has been around for many years, and it can be very successful in some situations. During that operation, the surgeon will excise a small piece of tissue from the labia minora with a scalpel, scissors, or a medical-grade laser. Following the treatment, the patient’s labia minora is going to be smaller, but the results might not be ideal.

In some cases, the scar that was created from the incision is going to be very visually distinct. A patient might also have to deal with chronic discomfort from the scar whenever they are engaging in physical activities or wearing tight clothing.

After a traditional “slice technique” labia minora reduction operation, there might also be an unnatural transition between the upper and lower labium. These are just a few of the reasons why many patients are now choosing the “central wedge” or “V” labiaplasty operation. That vaginal reconstruction procedure often produces much more natural results, and it can provide a patient with a whole host of benefits.

Why the Central Wedge Technique?

There are quite a few reasons why a patient might prefer the wedge technique labiaplasty. In addition to being unhappy with the appearance of the labia minora, they could also be experiencing quite a few problems with their sexual life. This technique can be combined with laser treatments and other cutting-edge procedures that promote sexual wellness and make sex pleasurable once again. Central wedge labiaplasty and laser treatments only take around two hours to complete, and many patients can resume all normal activities within two or three days of their procedures.

Following Your Operation

If you and your surgeon decide that these treatments might be right for you, then you will need to be ready for a short recovery period. During the first few days, you should be able to manage the discomfort with the painkillers that are prescribed to you by the surgical team. Your surgeon might also suggest the use of ice packs to minimize inflammation.

In most cases, patients can take a shower the day after the procedure and resume sexual intercourse within six weeks. You should also be able to resume exercising within a week or two of the labiaplasty as long as you aren’t experiencing any unusual side effects.







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Humans have now consumed the Earth’s natural resources for the year

It”s called “Overshoot Day”, the moment each year when we humans have used up more natural resources that the Earth can renew in 12 months.

And this year that day came on Saturday, August 22nd.

Put another way, it would take 1.6 Earths this year to meet the needs of the world’s population in a sustainable way.

The calculations were made by American NGO Global Footprint Network — since 2003 it’s been raising the alarm on the ever faster consumption of an expanding human population on a limited planet.

On the one hand there is our ecological footprint, which includes the spewing out of greenhouse gases — then there is the capacity of the earth’s ecosystems to absorb our waste products and renew ones we have consumed, such as wood from cut down trees in forests.

The worrying part is that overshoot day has been falling earlier and earlier every year.

Global Footprint Network estimates it was December 29th in 1970, November 4th in 1980, October 11th in 1990, September 23rd in 2000 and August 7th in 2010.

This year has been an anomaly because the coronavirus pandemic slowed down human activity, delaying the grim milestone slightly compared to last year.

In 2019 Overshoot Day actually fell on July 29th.

The 2015 Paris climate deal saw nations commit to limit temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels through sweeping emissions cuts.

It also set a safer goal of a 1.5 C cap.

The United Nations says global emissions must fall 7.6 percent annually this decade for that number to be possible.

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