Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Huge Aboriginal death toll when Europeans invaded – should be recognised

Australian War Memorial should recognise revised Aboriginal death toll: researcher, Brisbane Times July 17, 2014  Brisbane Times and Sun-Herald journalist New research that has calculated an Aboriginal death toll of more than 65,000 in Queensland alone during the so-called frontier wars has renewed calls for formal recognition at the Australian War Memorial.

But the AWM in Canberra has dismissed the idea, saying recognition should instead be in the National Museum.

The research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference last week at the University of Queensland, estimated 66,680 deaths between 1788 and 1930.

Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous, which is more than six times what was previously thought. The report’s co-author, historian Professor Raymond Evans, said the calculations were based on official records, witnesses’ reports and the number of patrols undertaken by the colonial Queensland government’s Native Police.

Professor Evans said the 65,180 figure was “conservative” and could be as high as 115,000.

“This is just Queensland – imagine what the nation-wide figure could be,” he said.

“If you say it’s a war, you at least allow the fact that Aboriginal people fought hard to defend their lands, so you can say they were warriors and they were fighting for their country. “They were fighting for Australia, for their land.”

Professor Evans said the estimated death toll was at least on a par with Australian casualties during World War I.

“The Australian War Memorial should recognise this as a war. It’s got such a high death rate, it was fought over a long period of time and it was fought between different communities, different nations, for territory,” he said.

“It’s a fight for land and territorial possession and it has many features of warfare and, of course, a huge death rate.” http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/australian-war-memorial-should-recognise-revised-aboriginal-death-toll-researcher-20140716-ztqr6.html#ixzz388vSgyg2

July 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Queensland | Leave a comment

Murky dealings in Australian government’s “clean coal” fantasy

Hear-This-wayThe search for the clean coal holy grail  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/ The Abbott government and a group of investors are pinning clean-coal.their environmental hopes on a clean coal technology that is still in the very early stages of development. Paddy Manning tracks the quest for the clean coal holy grail and investigates the men getting unspeakably rich from the search.

The federal government is pinning its hopes of cleaning up Australia’s electricity White,-Johnsector on a new clean coal technology that is still at the laboratory stage.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made clear that a key plank of the government’s plan to tackle climate change is reducing emissions from existing black and brown coal-fired power stations……

Ignite Energy Resources, a member of the DICE network, recently recieved a $20 million grant to produce liquid fuel for DICE engines from brown coal, among other things………

photo - Dr John White Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources

July 20, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Climate and nuclear news in Australia this week

a-cat-CANClimate change. International criticism as the Abbott government repeals the carbon tax, leaving Australia with no climate change policy.Scientists demonstrate that human-caused global  warming is causing more severe droughts and floods in Australia. South Western Australia’s long term dry is becoming a big cause for concern

Renewable Energy ‘Maverick’ politicians Clive Palmer and Ricky Muir save The Australian Renewable Energy Agency  the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Renewable Energy Target  from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s renewables -destroying axe.  It is clear that the condition for Abbott’s rise to power, courtesy of the fossil fuel industries, was that his central task is to destroy all real action on climate change in Australia.

The remote South Australian town of Coober Pedy is to get  the  second major off-grid project recently supported by ARENA, which is also investing in a 6.7MW solar plus storage installation at Rio Tinto’s Weipa refinery in far north Queensland.  Australian banks face risks if Renewable Energy Target is gutted or abolished.

Wastes. The problem remains of Lucas Heights nuclear wastes due to return from France to Australia in 2015

Uranium industry - current world glut of uranium , and predicted slow return to nuclear in Japan mean that Australia’s uranium industry future still looks glum    Even if regulators do approve Cameco’s  Western Australian Kintyre project, it is not now economically viable.

Warren Mundine, Tony Abbott’s appointed top Aboriginal adviser is in the hot spot, with apparent conflict of interest in mining deals in Western Australia.

INTERNATIONAL

Ukraine I cannot yet find information on what the airline tragedy might mean  for nuclear power in Ukraine – and sanctions perhaps on Russia.

Iraq. ISIS insurgents seize nuclear materials

USA  - Radiation Safety Standards The Environment Protection Austhority (EPA)  is calling for comments on its planned update of  “Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.”   The nuclear lobby is of course very keen to weaken those standards. Sophiticated and disingenuous arguments are being pushed towards that aim.  This is  acomplcated and difficult matter. I would hope that the EPA is concerned first for the public, and second for the nuclear industry, but I doubt this.

Japan. Even with safety clearance Japan’s nuclear reactors might not restart. Big protest in Tokyo against nuclear restart.

Fukushima.   Now  available first hand witness: The Yoshida Testimony. The Fukushima Nuclear accident as told by plant manager Masao Yoshida   The ice wall plan to stop leakage of radioactive water is not working

TEPCO workers leaving Fukushima for better paid, clean, safe jobs in solar energy projects. $1 billion in loans for Japan’s solar energy.

Iran Diplomacy struggles on, as the nuclear talks between Iran and the West are extended until November

Renewable Energy. International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that there are now 6.5 direct and indirect jobs in renewable energy.     10 top USA corporations call for renewable energy

 

 

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

History of the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping in South Australia

South-Australia-nuclearhandsoffThe nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014 Dumping on South Australia “……….The failed attempt to establish a dump at Muckaty followed the failed attempt to establish a dump in South Australia. In 1998, the Howard government announced its intention to build a nuclear waste dump near Woomera in South Australia.

Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern SA. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga and Emu in the 1950s.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in SA that the federal government hired a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws.

In one exchange, a government official asked the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo to be used in a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: “Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage”.

The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well. ‘Terra nullius’!

In 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished with the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

Victory in the Federal Court

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to ‘get their ears out of their pockets’, and after six years the government did just that.

In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election – after a Federal Court ruling that the federal government had acted illegally in stripping Traditional Owners of their native title rights, and with the dump issue biting politically in SA – the Howard government decided to cut its losses and abandon the dump plan.

The Kungkas wrote in an open letter: “People said that you can’t win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up.”

The Kungkas victory had broader ramifications – it was a set-back for everyone who likes the idea of stripping Aboriginal people of their land and their land rights, and it was a set-back for the nuclear power lobby.

Senator Nick Minchin, one of the Howard government ministers in charge of the failed attempt to impose a nuclear dump in SA, said in 2005:

“My experience with dealing with just low-level radioactive waste from our research reactor tells me it would be impossible to get any sort of consensus in this country around the management of the high-level waste a nuclear [power] reactor would produce.”

Minchin told a Liberal Party council meeting that “we must avoid being lumbered as the party that favours nuclear energy in this country” and that “we would be political mugs if we got sucked into this”…….. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

 

 

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia, wastes | Leave a comment

Ben ­Lomond uranium mine – unsafe in the past, unsafe now

safety-symbolMine safety ‘an impossibility’ JOSH ALSTON TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN JULY 15, 2014  TERRORIST cells like Al-Qaeda could target Townsville for uranium to power their nuclear weapons if the controversial Ben Lomond mine is reopened 40km from the city, according to deputy mayor Vern Veitch……

Cr Veitch, who will address an anti-uranium protest rally in Townsville later this month, said he believed that aside from the “extreme consequences” for Townsville if something went wrong at the mine, it could invite terrorists into our backyard.

“There is a risk nuclear products could fall into the wrong hands in the Middle East or Eastern Asia,” he said.

Cr Veitch said “there is always that possibility,” that the uranium mine could make Townsville a target for terrorists. Especially with the large military base (at Lavarack).”…….

With any uranium mining operations at Ben ­Lomond certain to include a highly radioactive tailings dam, he said it was an “impossibility” to ensure safety at the mine in a tropical region prone to cyclones.

“They definitely haven’t been able to contain spills in tropical Australia and I think it would be an impossibility at this location,” he said.

“The State Mining Warden of the time closed it down (in 1981) because they considered it unsafe … what makes it safe now?……

Citizens Against Mining Ben Lomond spokesman David Sewell fears radioactive materials could be transported via the city to the port and then on to the Great Barrier Reef.

The protest march will start at 9.30am on July 27 on the grassed area behind the Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Queensland, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s ice wall to stop radioactive flow – it’s not working

ice-wall-FukushimaFukushima ‘ice wall’ can’t get cold enough to stop radioactive water flow  Dr Leonard Coldwell  Jul 09, 2014 A Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) project to freeze radioactive water to prevent it from further contaminating surrounding areas and the Pacific Ocean has hit a major snag: the water won’t freeze. ……. Not freezing, and behind schedule

Recently, TEPCO launched two related programs to contain existing contamination and limit the flow of new water into the contaminated area. Both consist of digging trenches for pipes, then filling the pipes with an aqueous solution of calcium chloride cooled to -30°C (-22°F). The goal of the first, smaller project is to freeze 11,000 metric tons of radioactive water that has pooled beneath two of the failed reactors.

This project is widely seen as a pilot project for the much larger, more ambitious plan to use pipes to actually freeze the soil and create a 1.4 km (0.9 mile) “ice wall” to prevent more groundwater from infiltrating down into the underground reactors and becoming radioactive.

But on June 17, TEPCO announced that even the smaller project was having difficulties.

“We have yet to form an ice plug because we can’t get the temperature low enough to freeze the water,” a company spokesperson said.

The company also said that fluctuating water levels were making it difficult for the water to actually freeze.

“We are behind schedule, but have already taken additional measures, including putting in more pipes, so that we can remove contaminated water from the trench starting next month,” the spokesperson said.

Cleanup plagued with gaffes and errors………. http://drleonardcoldwell.com/2014/07/09/fukushima-ice-wall-cant-get-cold-enough-to-stop-radioactive-water-flow/

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hope for uranium business success in Western Australia are ill-founded

graph-uranum-glutAnalyst cites challenges to WA Govt’s uranium hopes, ABC News,   17 Jul 2014,”………Independent analyst Peter Strachan says the uranium price needs to improve for that aspiration to be achieved.

“I don’t see anything happening in Western Australia until the price looks like it’s improving,” he said.

“All the industry players are saying there’s a fundamental mismatch between supply and demand at the moment.”

He says it may be some time before the uranium price improves.

Mr Strachan says the public perception of the industry also needs to change for the Government’s dream to become a reality.

“The social licence to operate is pretty well everything these days,” he said.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-17/analyst-cites-challenges-to-wa-govts-uranium-hopes/5604842

July 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australia now punishing domestic solar generators?

solar-feed-inDennis Matthews 18 July 14 Electricity retailers in SA are required by law to pay domestic solar electricity generators only 7.6c a kWh (the minimum retailer payment) and this will automatically decrease to 6c/kWh now that the carbon pricing legislation has been repealed by the Abbott government. Yes, no ifs or buts, automatically!

Given the grossly unequal lobbying and market power of electricity retailers versus domestic solar generators then this can only be described as a travesty. And things are only going to get worse for the household consumer with price increases already flagged by retailers and the monopoly network provider.

Whilst we wait with bated breath to see what happens to what retailers are going to charge us, thanks to Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA), retailers already know that they will pay 20% less to domestic solar generators.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | solar, South Australia | Leave a comment

Japanese doctor warns on radioactive danger in Tokyo

Radiation-Warning1flag-japanJapan Doctor: “Tokyo should no longer be inhabited” — Everyone here is a victim of Fukushima — People truly suffering — Bleeding under skin, urinary hemorrhaging — Children’s blood tests started changing last year — Time running short… up to physicians to save our citizens and future generations http://enenews.com/japan-doctor-tokyo-longer-be-inhabited-everyone-living-victim-fukushima-disaster-began-notice-childrens-blood-test-results-around-mid-2013-time-running-short-physicians-save-citizens-future-g?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Dr. Shigeru Mita’s essay published in the newsletter of Association of Doctors in Kodaira (Tokyo)
, translated by WNSCR, July 16, 2014: Why did I leave Tokyo? To my fellow doctors, I closed the clinic in March 2014, which had served the community of Kodaira for more than 50 years, since my father’s generation, and I have started a new Mita clinic in Okayama-city on April 21. [...] It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation [...] contamination in the east part [of Tokyo] is 1000-4000 Bq/kg and the west part is 300-1000 Bq/kg. [...] 0.5-1.5 Bq/kg before 2011. [...] Tokyo should no longer be inhabited [...] Contamination in Tokyo is progressing, and further worsened by urban radiation concentration [...] radiation levels on the riverbeds [...] in Tokyo have increased drastically in the last 1-2 years. [...] Ever since 3.11, everybody living in Eastern Japan including Tokyo is a victim, and everybody is involved. [...] The keyword here is “long-term low-level internal irradiation.” This differs greatly from medical irradiation or simple external exposure to radiation. [...] People are truly suffering from this utter lack of support. [...] If the power to save our citizens and future generations exists somewhere, it [is] in the hands of individual clinical doctors ourselves. [...] Residents of Tokyo are unfortunately not in the position to pity the affected regions of Tohoku because they are victims themselves. Time is running short. [...]

Dr. Mita on patient symptoms since 2011: White blood cells, especially neutrophils, are decreasing among children [...] Patients report nosebleed, hair loss, lack of energy, subcutaneous bleeding, visible urinary hemorrhage, skin inflammations [...] we began to notice changes in children’s blood test results around mid-2013 [...] Other concerns I have include symptoms reported by general patients, such as persistent asthma and sinusitis [...] high occurrences of rheumatic polymyalgia [...] Changes are also noticeable in the manifestation of contagious diseases such as influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and shingles. [...]

See also: Japan Physician: I hope adults will leave Tokyo, not just children — Strange things happening — Medications don’t seem to work — Rare diseases increasing dramatically (VIDEO)

And: Japan Physician: Parents should evacuate children from Tokyo; Danger from Fukushima radiation — “The threat has seemed to be spreading” — “I’ve seen a lot of patients badly affected”

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Accumulating radioactive trash: nuclear wastes haunt the world

The nuclear option still dogged by waste disposal problems http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-nuclear-option-still-dogged-by-waste-disposal-problems,6675  Climate News Network 16 July 2014 Nuclear power is seen as one of the possible solutions to climate change, but the recent closure of five U.S. power stations is forcing the industry to face up at last to the damaging legacy of how to deal with radioactive waste. Paul Brown fromClimate News Network reports.  

LONG-TERM employment is hard to find these days, but one career that can be guaranteed to last a lifetime is dealing with nuclear waste.

The problem and how to solve it is becoming critical. Dozens of nuclear power stations in the U.S., Russia, Japan, and across Europe and Central Asia are nearing the end of their lives.

And when these stations close, the spent fuel has to be taken out, safely stored or disposed of, and then the pressure vessels and the mountains of concrete that make up the reactors have to be dismantled. This can take between 30 and 100 years, depending on the policies adopted.

In the rush to build stations in the last century, little thought was given to how to take them apart 40 years later. It was an age of optimism that science would always find a solution when one was needed, but the reality is that little effort was put into dealing with the waste problem. It is now coming back to haunt the industry.

Profitable business

Not that everyone sees it as a problem. A lot of companies view nuclear waste as a welcome and highly profitable business opportunity.

money-in-wastes-2

Either way, because of the dangers of radioactivity, it is not a problem that can be ignored. The sums of money that governments will have to find to deal with keeping the old stations safe are eye-wateringly large. They will run into many billions of dollars — an assured income for companies in the nuclear waste business, stretching to the end of this century and beyond.

The U.S. is a prime example of a country where the nuclear waste issue is becoming rapidly more urgent.

The problem has been brought to the fore in the U.S. because five stations have closed in the last two years. The Crystal River plant in Florida and San Onofre 1 and 2 in California have closed down because they were judged too costly to bring up to modern standards. Two more –  Kewaunee in Wisconsin and the  Vermont Yankee plant –  could no longer compete on cost with the current price of natural gas and increased subsidies for renewables.

Nuclear Energy Insider, which keeps a forensic watch on the industry, predicts that several other nuclear power stations in the U.S. will also succumb to premature closure because they can no longer compete.

The dilemma for the industry is that the U.S. government has not solved the problem of what to do with the spent fuel and the highly radioactive nuclear waste that these stations have generated over the last 40 years. They have collected a levy –  kept in a separate fund that now amounts to $31 billion – to pay for solving the problem, but still have not come up with a plan.

Legal action

Since it costs an estimated $10 million dollars a year to keep spent fuel safe at closed stations, electricity utilities saddled with these losses, and without any form of income, are taking legal action against the government.

The U.S. government has voted another $205 million to continue exploring the idea of sending the waste to the remote Yucca Mountain in Nevada —  an idea fought over since 1987 and still no nearer solution. Even if this plan went through, the facility would not be built and accepting waste until 2048.

The big problem for the U.S., the utility companies and the consumers who will ultimately pay the bill is what to do in the meantime with the old stations, the spent fuel, and the sites. Much of the fuel will be moved from wet storage to easier-to-manage dry storage, but it will still be a costly process. What happens after that, and who will pay for it, is anyone’s guess.

The industry is having a Nuclear Decommissioning and Used Fuel Strategy Summit  in October in Charlotte, North Carolina, to try to sort out some of these issues.

But America is not alone. The U.K. has already closed a dozen reactors. Most of the rest are due to be retired by 2024, but it is likely that the French company EDF, which owns the plants, will try to keep them open longer.

The bill for dealing with existing nuclear waste in Britain is constantly rising and currently stands at £74 billion, even without any other reactors being decommissioned.

The government is already spending £2 billion each year trying to clear up the legacy of past nuclear activities, but has as yet found no solution to dealing with the thousands of fuel rods still in permanent store at power stations.

As with the U.S., even if a solution is found, it would be at least 2050 before a facility to deal with this highly dangerous waste could be found. By that time, billions of pounds will have been expended just to keep the used fuel from igniting and causing a nuclear meltdown.

It is hard to know how the industry’s finances could stand such a drain on its resources without going bankrupt.

Similar problems are faced by Germany, which is already closing its industry permanently in favour of renewables, and France, with more than 50 ageing reactors.

Japan, still dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima accident in 2011, is composed of crowded islands where few people will welcome a nuclear waste depository.

Many countries in the former Soviet bloc with ageing reactors look to Russia – which provided them – to solve their problems. But this may be a false hope, as Russia has an enormous unsolved waste problem of its own.

Dramatic rise

In all these countries, the issue of nuclear waste and what to do with it is a problem that has been put off – both by the industry and politicians – as an issue to be dealt with sometime in the future. But the problem is becoming more urgent as the costs and the volume of waste rises dramatically.

Unlike any other form of generation, even dirty coal plants, getting rid of nuclear stations is no simple matter. To cleanse a nuclear site so that it can be used for another industrial use is difficult. Radioactivity lasts for centuries, and all contamination has to be physically removed.

For many critics of the industry, the nuclear waste issue has always been a moral issue – as well as a financial one – that should not be left to future generations to solve. The industry itself has always relied on its continuous expansion, and developing science, to deal what it calls “back end costs” at some time in the distant future.

But as more stations close, and fewer new ones are planned to raise revenue, putting off the problem no longer seems an option, either for the industry or for the governments that ultimately will have to pick up the bill.

 

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maralinga: Australia’s cheap and nasty treatment of Aboriginal people

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal peopleEcologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014  Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes have been evident in recent debates over uranium mines and nuclear waste, but Aboriginal peoples are fighting back! The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia.

Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha.

Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called ‘Native Patrol Officers’ patrolled thousands of square kilometres to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place – with little success.

‘Ignorance, incompetence and cynicism’

The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterised by“ignorance, incompetence and cynicism”. Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tonnes of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology.

As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the ‘clean-up’ on ABC radio in August 2002: “What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn’t be adopted on white-fellas land.”

Barely a decade after the ‘clean-up’, a survey revealed that 19 of the 85 contaminated debris pits had been subject to erosion or subsidence. The half-life of plutonium-239 is 24,100 years.

Despite the residual contamination, the Australian government off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners.

The government portrayed this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the ‘clean-up’ was “aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination.” ………..http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

Science report shows Australia’s drought and flooding result of human-caused global warming

Map-Abbott-climateAustralia’s drought – yes, it’s climate change http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2483139/australias_drought_yes_its_climate_change.html Tim Radford 18th July 2014 Australia’s prime minister thinks climate change is ‘crap’ and has just abolished his country’s carbon-pricing system. But scientists say that it’s rising levels of CO2 that are leaving the south of the country parched and sweltering – and it’s only going to get worse.

American scientists have just confirmed that parts of Australia are being slowly parched because of greenhouse gas emissions.

A report in Nature Geoscience shows that the long-term decline in rainfall over south and south-west Australia is a consequence of fossil fuel burning and depletion of the ozone layer by human activity. Such a finding is significant for two reasons. One remains contentious: it is one thing to make generalised predictions about the consequences overall of greenhouse gas levels, but it is quite another to pin a measured regional climatic shift directly on human causes, rather than some possible as-yet-unidentified natural cycle of climatic change.

The other is contentiously political.

Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, has in the past dismissed climate science as “crap”, and more recently has cut back on Australian research spending.

Bush fires and catastrophic flooding

Australia has already experienced a pattern of heat waves and drought - punctuated by catastrophic flooding – and even now, in the Australian winter, New South Wales is being hit by bush fires.

Tom Delworth, a research scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports in Nature Geoscience that he and a colleague conducted a series of long-term climate simulations to study changes in rainfall across the globe.

One striking pattern of change emerged in Australia, where winter and autumn rainfall patterns are increasingly a cause of distress for farmers and growers in two states.

The simulation showed that the decline in rainfall was primarily a response to man-made increases in greenhouse gases, as well as to a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer in response to emissions of destructive gases by human sources.

The computer simulations tested a series of possible causes for this decline, such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar radiation. But the only cause that made sense of the observed data was the greenhouse explanation.

It began in 1970, and it hasn’t stopped yet

South Australia has never been conspicuously lush and wet, but decline in precipitation set in around 1970, and this decline has increased in the last four decades.

The simulations predict that the decline will go on, and that average rainfall will drop by 40% over south-west Australia later this century.

Dr Delworth described his model as “a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change”.

In May, scientists proposed that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for a change in Southern Ocean wind patterns, which in turn resets the thermostat for the world’s largest island.

Australian scientists report in Geophysical Research Letters that they, too, have been using climate models to examine Antarctic wind patterns and their possible consequences for the rest of the planet.

Another consequence: accelerated ice sheet melt

“When we included projected Antarctic wind shifts in a detailed global ocean model, we found water up to 4°C warmer than current temperatures rose up to meet the base of the Antarctic ice shelves”, said Paul Spence, a researcher at Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. This temperature rise is twice previous estimates.

“This relatively warm water provides a huge reservoir of melt potential right near the grounding lines of ice shelves around Antarctica. It could lead to a massive increase in the rate of ice sheet melt, with direct consequences for global sea level rise.”

Since the West Antarctic ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea levels by 3.3 metres, the consequences would indeed be considerable.

“When we first saw the results it was quite a shock”, said Dr Spence. “It was one of the few cases where I hoped the science was wrong.”

 

 

July 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

World criticism of Australia repealing the carbon tax

Abbott-in-hot-panAustralia’s carbon tax abolition draws international criticism  Guardian, 18 July 14 Al Gore calls it a ‘disappointing step’ and European Union says world is moving towards carbon pricing initiatives Australia’s repeal of the carbon price has provoked a largely negative reaction overseas, with former US vice president Al Gore calling it a “disappointing step”.

Gore said Thursday’s abolition of the mechanism means that “Australia is falling behind other major industrialised nations in the growing global effort to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a clean and prosperous future”.

“[It is] a disappointing step for a country that continues to experience the worsening consequences of the climate crisis.”

Gore, who appeared alongside Clive Palmer in a bizarre press conference in June to iterate the Palmer United party’s position on the carbon price, said be was encouraged by the support for the Renewable Energy Target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Climate Change Authority.

“These programs are examples of Australia’s long and continued excellence in combating the climate crisis, and must continue,” Gore said. He added that he was “hopeful” that Australia would adopt an emissions trading scheme (ETS), as advanced by Labor and, in a radically watered down form, by Palmer.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate commissioner, also voiced disappointment at the carbon price repeal.

“The European Union regrets the repeal of Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism just as new carbon pricing initiatives are emerging all around the world,” she said.

“The EU is convinced that pricing carbon is not only the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, but also the tool to make the economic paradigm shift the world needs.

“This is why the EU will continue to work towards global carbon pricing with all international partners.”

The European Union has had an emissions trading scheme in place since 2005. The scheme, which covers around 45% of total greenhouse emissions from the 28 EU countries, was due to be linked to Australia’s own emissions trading scheme, but this will now not happen………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/18/australia-carbon-tax-abolition-international-criticism

July 19, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

12 top USA corporations call for renewable energy

renewable_energyFlag-USA12 Mainstream American Corporations Want More Renewable Energy Clean Technica, uly 17th, 2014 by   Just a couple of weeks ago, we reported that a number of mainstream American companies are saving about $1.1 billion a year by using renewable energy. Now, 12 prominent and very large corporations have combined their voices to say they want more renewables. Renewable energy might seem like a marginal part of American society, even something for ‘hippies,’ but if you believe that take a look at some of the companies that want more of it.

  • General Motors
  • Walmart
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Proctor and Gamble
  • Sprint
  • Intel
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Bloomberg
  • Mars
  • Novelis
  • REI
  • Facebook…….
  • No one would say any of these companies are ‘radical,’ so it seems that renewable energy, like solar and wind are definitely mainstream now. In other words, it’s not for ‘kooks,’ ‘granolas,’ ‘socialists,’ ‘treehuggers,’ or ‘vegans’.The twelve companies listed above are brands recognizable to almost any  American. They are thoroughly mainstream and some are even part of American history. Take Johnson and Johnson, for example. This huge corporation was founded in 1886.  Similarly, General Motors was founded in 1908. These two companies are part of American culture and have been around for over one hundred years……..http://cleantechnica.com/2014/07/17/12-mainstream-american-corporations-want-renewable-energy/

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investors staying away from uranium – with good reason

graph-down-uraniumA watching brief on next uranium powers  THE AUSTRALIAN JULY 18, 2014  SAGELY, uranium investors yesterday treated news of an imminent reboot of Japan’s nuclear industry as a handy boost to sentiment but not much else.

Don’t expect uranium prices — wallowing at nine-year lows — to recover in a hurry: the market remains in a glut and most transactions are on long-term contracts.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog approved two reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant to be restarted, presaging the revival of more of 48 Nipponese reactors.

The sector has been shut down since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Before this “incident” — the industry’s preferred description of the near meltdown — Japan was one-third reliant on nuclear energy. The ensuing carnage saw dozens of uranium projects cancelled and delayed, with our own Paladin Energy putting its Kayelekera plant in Malawi on care and maintenance…….

July 19, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

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