The economists have had another terrible year. It’s time for a complete re-think

This may or may not be a good time for democracy, but one thing is certain about the past year of political upsets; it’s heaped further humiliations on the economics profession.

A substantial majority of economists thought the mere act of voting for Brexit would pole-axe the economy. Not only did voters ignore these warnings, but so far the “experts” have proved almost wholly wrong.

Internationally, the story is much the same. The profound shock to global confidence anticipated by the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, failed to materialise; Brexit had no discernible impact on the world economy. Having cried wolf over the short term consequences, the profession should not be surprised if rather more credible warnings of pain delayed are widely disbelieved.

Brain stimulation for depression – All In The Mind – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

About 1 in 5 people with clinical depression are not helped by anti-depressant medication—so alternative treatments are being explored. One of them is TMS: Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation. It’s a non-invasive method of passing a magnetic pulse through the skin to a focussed part of the brain, and it’s showing real promise. Hear about one young man’s experience of this treatment.

Why “Psychological Androgyny” Is Essential for Creativity – Brain Pickings

“Creative individuals are more likely to have not only the strengths of their own gender but those of the other one, too.”

Despite the immense canon of research on creativity — including its four stages, the cognitive science of the ideal creative routine, the role of memory, and the relationship between creativity and mental illness — very little has focused on one of life’s few givens that equally few of us can escape: gender and the genderedness of the mind.

China further cementing its clean energy dominance : RenewEconomy

IEEFA’s latest report finds that China continued to set itself up to dominate clean energy sectors during 2017. During the year, much attention has been paid to its record breaking domestic solar installation of at least 50 GW, reorganisation of its power utilities and carbon trading plans. However, China also has one eye on international power markets.

A key development during the year was the decision by President Trump to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Given cover by the U.S. to reduce its own commitment to Paris if it wanted to, China was quick to reaffirm its emissions reduction pledge.

The withdrawal of the U.S. along with an increased U.S. government emphasis on coal and away from renewables is at odds with the direction being taken by China. Although China isn’t necessarily intending to fill the climate leadership void left by the U.S. withdrawal from Paris, it will certainly be very happy to dominate fast-growing sectors such as solar energy, electric vehicles and batteries.

The clean energy market is growing at a rapid pace globally and China is setting itself up to overshadow other nations whilst the U.S. government looks the other way. IEEFA has identified large (valued at US$1 billion or more) Chinese international clean energy projects and takeovers around the world totaling over US$44bn for 2017, higher than the US$32bn identified for 2016 which was itself a record year for Chinese low emissions sector investment overseas.

SolarReserve granted approval for 150MW solar thermal project : RenewEconomy

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The Lead

SolarReserve’s 150MW solar thermal power plant has been granted development approval by the South Australian Government, paving the way for construction to begin this year.

An artist’s impression of the Aurora plant to be built by SolarReserve in South Australia.

The Aurora Solar Energy Project located in Port Augusta, about 300km north of the South Australian capital Adelaide, will incorporate eight hours of storage or 1100 megawatts-hours, allowing it to operate like a conventional coal or gas power station.

The AU$650 million plant – the biggest of its kind in the world – will have a capacity of about 135MW under normal operating conditions with the ability to increase that output in favourable conditions.

Platypus population virtually extinct in Victoria’s upper Wimmera – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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MAP: Ballarat 3350

A DNA study of the upper Wimmera River in western Victoria has revealed the local population of platypus has gone “functionally extinct”.

The study was conducted over the past three months by researchers at EnviroDNA and not-for-profit Project Platypus, as part of a $35,000 grant from the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.

map with 36 markers on it

PHOTO: Ecologist Josh Griffiths says the DNA study along the upper Wimmera is the most comprehensive study of the platypus population to date. (Supplied: Josh Griffiths)

Samples at 35 sites along the Wimmera near Stawell and Ararat were analysed for the DNA that platypuses leave in the water via their skin and hair cells, along with faecal matter and urine.

EnviroDNA senior ecologist Josh Griffiths said the millennium drought of the early 2000s had ravaged the local population, with most of the Wimmera drying out.

“There was a couple of isolated puddles that was all that was left of the river,” he said.

“So whenever these systems that were traditionally healthy flowing rivers become intermittent and have stop flow events, that has major impacts on everything.”