Editor's note

Spend any length of time immersed in news about the environment and you’re liable to come away with a nagging sense of impending doom. But pessimism – while a logical response to a seemingly unending series of natural catastrophes – tends to hinder useful action. To solve this problem, new Australian research explores how optimism can get your environmental message across, prompt action and mobilise communities.

Remember the global outrage four months ago at world-first claims a researcher had used the gene tool CRISPR to edit the genomes of twin girls? Today prominent researchers and bioethicists published a call to arms: a five year moratorium should be applied to any such work that results in genetic changes passed on to future generations of people. Dimitri Perrin and Gaetan Burgio have analysed the paper and its implications.

And in our Hidden Women of History series, we meet Fanny Finch, a businesswoman and single mother of four, who in 1856 became Australia’s first known female voter. As Kacey Sinclair writes, Fanny was briefly able to exploit a loophole in suffrage law that was yet to discriminate against gender or race. Sadly though, her assertion of power was short-lived.

Madeleine De Gabriele

Deputy Editor: Energy + Environment

Top story

Providing optimism in the face of environmental reality can help people stay aware and hopeful for a positive outcome. Photo: A. Sergeev

How (and why) to stay optimistic when it feels like the environment is falling apart

Dominic McAfee, University of Adelaide; Sean Connell, University of Adelaide; Zoe Doubleday, University of South Australia

When it comes to environmental activism, optimism is key.

CRISPR is a gene editing tool that can create permanent changes in the human genome. from www.shutterstock.com

Experts call for halt to CRISPR editing that allows gene changes to pass on to children

Dimitri Perrin, Queensland University of Technology; Gaetan Burgio, Australian National University

Four months ago a researcher claimed he had used the tool CRISPR to edit the genomes of twin girls. Now prominent researchers and ethicists are calling for a temporary halt to this sort of work.

Fanny Finch’s 1856 voting card. Castlemaine Art Museum

Hidden women of history: Australia’s first known female voter, the famous Mrs Fanny Finch

Kacey Sinclair, La Trobe University

Decades before most white Australian women were granted the right to vote, a businesswoman and single mother of four took to the polls and signed a ballot paper.

Science + Technology

Arts + Culture

Health + Medicine


  • How the NSW election promises on transport add up

    Marion Terrill, Grattan Institute; James Ha, Grattan Institute

    The major parties are promising projects costing tens of billions of dollars, with a surprisingly large overlap between them. Yet only two have been endorsed by infrastructure authorities.

Business + Economy

Politics + Society


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