Friday essay: frogwatching - charting climate change's impact in the here and now

EXTRACT: Frogs are known as an “indicator species” for water quality and local ecosystem health. With their permeable, membranous skin, through which respiratory gases and water can pass, and their shell-less eggs laid in water, they are sensitive to even low concentrations of pollutants in water and soils. In this study, frogs give a different kind of warning – as they begin calling earlier in the season, they reveal and give voice to the warming climate we now all inhabit.

The project is fortunate enough to be able to build upon weekly counts of calling frogs by ecologist Will Osborne during the 1980s and 1990s in the Canberra region. Effects of climate change can be incremental. They can also be non-linear, as scientist Pep Canadell explained to me in a recent interview. “Climate change expresses itself through extremes. It’s not a linear relationship of impacts,” he said.

This mixture of incremental change and unpredictable “expressions” can be difficult to record in the short term. With this in mind, the Frogwatch project builds on Osborne’s historical data along with the Frog Census data to chart changing trends. A preliminary comparison reveals that the breeding season of some local frog species might be commencing up to six weeks earlier than 40 years ago.

Want to boost Aboriginal financial capability? Spend time in communities

Financial capability and literacy aren’t immutable.

Grattan on Friday: The price of greasing squeaky wheels ahead of the election

Why the sudden change and why this generosity?

Michelle Grattan explains:

Research Check: does drinking coffee help you live longer?

#ResearchCheck This study only shows a correlation between drinking coffee and a lower risk of early death.

It doesn’t show coffee was the cause of the lower risk.

Hybrid embryos raise hope of resurrecting northern white rhino – but what's the point?

Scientists have created hybrid embryos with DNA from the nearly-extinct northern white rhinoceros - could they resurrect this mega-mammal?

Time to honour a historical legend: 50 years since the discovery of Mungo Lady

The discovery 50 years ago of Mungo Lady changed the way we think of human habitation in Australia many thousands of years ago.

But to the man who found the remains, the story is far from over.

Ecosystems across Australia are collapsing under climate change

If you follow eco-news then these collapsing ecosystems won't be surprising, but it's very very sobering to see them collected in one study.

Science or Snake Oil: does EASEaCOLD really help to shorten your cold?

EASEaCOLD is a herbal remedy for colds, and while it claims to shorten the length of your cold, you probably shouldn't waste your money.

Australia's government failed to stand up for press freedom after Nauru barred ABC journalist

Why all the hush-hush? The truth is, Australia finds itself beholden to one of the smallest and most impoverished island states in the world.

Market v government? In fact, hybrid policy is the best fit for the 21st century

The HECS system is a hybrid policy approach that ensures Australian universities remain accessible while funding remains sustainable.

Curious Kids: How do wormholes work?

Hi, my name is Vaibhav Kannan. I’m 11 years old and I live in Melbourne. I am in Year 7 and my question is: what are wormholes, and if they do exist, how do they form and work? Thanks.

– Vaibhav Kannan, age 11, Melbourne.

Why do kids lie, and is it normal?

Is your kid telling fibs? That's great news!

Sexist abuse has a long history in Australian politics – and takes us all to a dark place

Michelle Grattan: In one foul-mouthed phrase, Senator David Leyonhjelm has turned a debate about the safety of women into a sleazy political sideshow.

The dos and don'ts of supporting women after a miscarriage

Some really practical advice here on what to say, and what not to.

Another day, another data breach – what to do when it happens to you

Data breaches are fact of modern life. It's likely each of us will have our personal information compromised at some point.

Madonna or whore; frigid or a slut: why women are still bearing the brunt of sexual slurs

These dichotomies about women's sexuality and moral character are not only sexist - they're absolute nonsense.

From stone dildos to sexbots: how technology is changing sex

The main technologies that are likely to be important for developments in sex over the next few years are:

View from The Hill: Parliament should care about its reputation even if Leyonhjelm doesn't value his

Michelle Grattan: If Senator David Leyonhjelm hasn’t apologised to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young by the time parliament resumes next month, the Senate should tell him to do so.

Learning languages early is key to making Australia more multilingual

Australia is one of the least multilingual countries. If we're going to change that, children need to have the opportunity to learn another language early in their life.

Sorry, baristas: instant coffee has the smallest carbon footprint (but don't overfill the kettle)

Boiling the kettle + putting your mug in the dishwasher = 1/2 the energy invested in growing, processing, transporting and packaging your instant coffee.

Higher energy prices are here to stay – here's what we can do about it

Our energy prices have doubled since 2015.

Victoria's puppy farms and pet shop laws a world first - but questions about 'ethical' breeding remain

New laws in Victoria mean pet shops will no longer be able to sell puppies and kittens from breeders.

Smart city planning can preserve old trees and the wildlife that needs them

The number of native birds in an area declines by half with the loss of every 5 mature eucalypts. So how can we keep old trees in cities?

Sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination 'rife' among Australian academics

In a survey of 159 academics, nearly half reported sexual abuse or harassment.

How forced pregnancies and abortions deny women control over their own bodies

Associated with intimate partner violence, there are many ways in which reproductive choice is taken away from women.

Meet the Ligualalepis

It’s less than 2cm long, but this 400 million year old fossil fish changes our view of vertebrate evolution.

Read more:

Levying GST on all packages is complicated and risky for everyone involved

As of today you will likely pay 10% more for any goods you have delivered from overseas suppliers.

Weakened code risks Australia’s reputation for research integrity

Researchers are under pressure to deliver publications and win grants.

Workplace sexual harassment is a public health issue and should be treated as such

In Australia, one in five workers over 15 years of age has experienced workplace sexual harassment.

Perpetrators are most commonly men.

Share bikes don't get cars off the road, but they have other benefits

Findings showed that, across most cities, bike sharing attracts users with a particular profile.

Antibiotics before birth and in early life can affect long-term health

By the time they turn one, half of Australian babies have had a course of antibiotics.

Report recommends big ideas for regional Australia – beyond decentralisation

"This report gives federal parliamentarians a comprehensive plan for meaningful work over the next decade or more. Here’s hoping they make the most of it."

Green is the new black: why retailers want you to know about their green credentials

Is it really that hard to switch to paper or cloth bags?

The ethics of Apple’s closed ecosystem app store

After 10 years, could Apple finally be losing their control over the way apps are installed on their platform?

Guide to the classics: Don Quixote, the world's first novel - and one of the best

"More than 400 years after its publication and great success, Don Quixote is widely considered the world’s best book by other celebrated authors"

Politics Podcast: Tanya Plibersek on Labor's taxing times

LISTEN: Tanya Plibersek talks on Anthony Albanese's Whitlam oration, Bill Shorten's unexpected announcement on rolling back company tax for medium sized firms, and the "tough" byelections.

Friday essay: the politics of curry

Today we bring you an expert demolishing everything you thought you knew about curry.

Grattan on Friday: Bill Shorten had a 'captain's fall' rather than making a 'captain's call'

Some who flirt with the idea of a change believe Labor is on the cusp of regaining office but fear Shorten mightn’t get over the final hurdle.

From Michelle Grattan

There are some single-use plastics we truly need. The rest we can live without

Scientists and nurses will still need single-use plastic. The rest of us... not so much.

From 'Toby Tosspot' to 'Mr Harbourside Mansion', personal insults are an Australian tradition

"Toby Tosspot", "the feral abacus" and "Mr Harbourside Mansion" - Australian political insults have a long history.

Today’s US-Mexico 'border crisis' in 6 charts

Actually, undocumented entries across the border are at all-time lows.

Even a microchipped pet can be lost if your data is out of date

If you love them, you will do this.

Confused about what to eat? Here's a doctor's recommended meal plan

A staggering 95% of Aussies don’t eat enough vegetables.

We asked five experts: should mobile phones be banned in schools?

Maybe we should teach students how to use technology appropriately, rather than banning it.

Plastic-free campaigns don't have to shock or shame. Shoppers are already on board

Plastic-free campaigns don't have to use shock tactics. Positive advice is all shoppers need.

UN set to review Australia's record on women's rights – and may find it wanting

We’re seeing either little improvement or a concerning deteriorations.

To appreciate its power, think of design as a drug

Take a look around - what impact is your room having on you?

Curious Kids: How was the ocean formed? Where did all the water come from?

The Big Bang created a cloud of dust and rocks that included a lot of rocks that were made of ice, like giant snowballs. That's where some of the water came from.