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‘We might be entering the age of the unfailing sunburn’: ozone layer getting worse in populated areas

The ozone layer is not healing as scientists had hoped. In fact, depressing research released on Tue..

The ozone layer is not healing as scientists had hoped. In fact, depressing research released on Tuesday finds our UV-blocking ozone layer is still thinning in more populated parts of the world.

A global effort to cut certain airborne pollutants over the last three decades has been credited with allowing our damaged ozone layer to recover. But the shock new findings – which scientists cannot explain – suggest we may have been celebrating too early.

This image, from NASA and centred on Antarctica, shows the damage we have done to the ozone layer. The gradient indicates the amount of ozone at that region. As you can see, a large area of the atmosphere above Antarctica has been depleted of ozone, as shown by the dark-blue area. Photo: NASA's Earth Observatory

"This study is scary,” said Professor Bill Laurance, a climate change scientist at James Cook University.

“Until we understand what’s really happening you’d be silly to sun yourself, except in polar regions. The era of suntanning could be over; we might be entering the age of the unfailing sunburn."

The ozone layer is crucial to life on Earth. It blocks the sun’s most damaging rays, preventing them from damaging our DNA.

In the ‘70s, we discovered that chlorofluorocarbons – a type of gas used in fridges and aerosol sprays – were destroying the ozone layer, leading to a large hole forming over the Antarctic.

Humanity responded to the crisis, signing the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and phasing out chlorofluorocarbons.

It was the world’s first universal agreement to cooperate on human health, according to University of Melbourne sustainability expert Dr Paul Read, and heralded huge optimism about how we would respond to other worldwide challenges, such as global warming.

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It also seemed to work – the hole over the Antarctic has been gradually closing. Scientists hailed it as the only environmental indicator we had managed to significantly improve since 1992.

A study published on Tuesday by a team of researchers from the UK and Switzerland, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, challenges that.

The researchers found the parts of the ozone layer that stretch over large swathes of the far north and south of the globe – including the southern ocean below Australia – are not recovering at all. There, the ozone layer is continuing to thin.

“The potential for harm in lower latitudes may actually be worse than at the poles. The decreases in ozone are less than we saw at the poles before the Montreal Protocol was enacted, but UV radiation is more intense in these regions and more people live there,” said study co-author Joanna Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.

What this new paper is saying,” said Dr Read, “is that the hole in the ozone layer, predicted to be completely repaired by around 2060, has a whole section that's not repairing itself.”

The finding comes from a huge project to combine data from multiple atmosphere-monitoring satellite missions since 1985. Adding the data together produced a clear finding the layer was continuing to thin.

It is not clear why these parts of the layer are thinning. The study’s authors suggest climate change may be changing patterns of atmospheric circulation, leading to ozone being distributed differently.

There are also a range of other substances that are used in paint strippers and similar chemicals that could be destroying the ozone. It was previously not believed these substances lasted long enough in the atmosphere to damage the layer.

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So, we guess this means Beyonce and Jay-Z are OK then

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last..

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last weekend. As you'd expect, it's a statement.

There is arguably no couple better at controlling their own press than Beyonce and Jay-Z. When a video surfaced in 2014 showing Bey's younger sister Solange attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator, rumours of a strained marriage proliferated.

Rather than battle the tabloids, the spouses used the gossip to fuel the creation of two critically beloved, commercially successful records: Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44. And, in them, they offered just as many details about their private lives as they chose.

Beyonce and Jay-Z on stage in France for the 2014 On the Run tour.

Photo: Rob Hoffman

Now the couple have continued their domination of pop music, surprising the world last Saturday by releasing their joint album Everything Is Love, which is something of a sequel to those two solo records. Though they have collaborated for at least 15 years, this marks their first joint album, which they dropped under the name The Carters.

The record is a victory lap from a couple who have mined their relationship for universal truths and then presented them as art. It's a fierce love letter to success, to family, to blackness – but, most of all, to each other.

Artwork for the album Everything is Love by The Carters, aka Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Photo: Karl Quinn


Lyrically, it primarily focuses on two aspects of the Carters' lives: their marriage and their success. (more…)

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Rachel Griffiths: female characters are finally getting real on screen

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, P..

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Top of the Lake show that female characters are finally coming of age on Australian screens.

In a spirited speech at the launch of a new state government scheme to support more women directors in television, the actor-turned-director said it was exciting to see female characters move beyond "the typical tropes of 'likable, f—able, adorable'" to "more complex depictions of female experience" recently.

Happy to see "more complex depictions of female experience": Rachel Griffiths (left) with Leah Purcell at the launch of #SheDirects.

Photo: Louie Douvis

While she acknowledged there were male directors who created fresh and compelling women characters, Griffiths said the "male gaze" often reduced them to colouring the characters of their male counterparts.

"[They are created to] make him hot, make him authentic, make him empathetic, make him fatherly, make him conflicted, make him grieve," she said. "In the male gaze, we are so often not the gatekeepers; we're not the ferryman. Sometimes the mentor but usually only ironically, like Judi Dench's M…

"Under-written and under-observed, brought into our sexual awareness precociously and prepubescent in order to accommodate the male libido.


"Often in television we're used by lazy writers and producers who can think of nothing more interesting this week than 'let's have her have sex with X' or 'discover she's a lesbian – for an episode'."

Griffiths, who is about to begin editing the Melbourne Cup drama Ride Like A Girl after finishing the shoot, endorsed Hollywood star Sandra Bullock's recent comment that it was time for women to "stop being polite" about gender equality. (more…)

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Rachel Maddow breaks down on air over Trump immigration policy

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest development..

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest developments in the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Maddow, who hosts her own show on MSNBC, was reading from a breaking news release from the Associated Press that revealed government officials have been sending babies and toddlers to what are being called "tender age" shelters in the US.

The youngsters are some of the 2,300 children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the White House announced a zero-tolerance policy on migrant families in May.

"The AP has just broken some new news," Maddow started.

"Um, this has just come out from the Associated Press, this is incredible. Trump administration have been sending babies and other young children – oh, hold on," she said, her voice breaking.


Maddow attempted to get through the breaking news piece one more time before moving the show over to a guest. "To at least three – three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers… I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry."

Maddow took to Twitter shortly after the segment aired to say sorry to her viewers. "Again, I apologise for losing it there for a moment," she wrote. "Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

She also tweeted out what she had been trying to say in her live read, writing out what was presented in the AP story. "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…" she wrote.

"Decades after the nations child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." (more…)

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