Canberra’s new energy mantra: Renewables bad, demand good (excellent graphs) http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/canberras-new-energy-mantra-renewables-bad-demand-good-52964 By Giles Parkinson on 28 November 2013 The apparent antipathy of the new Australian government towards renewable energy, and its attachment to the centralised generation model, is betrayed in an unusual document on electricity prices published recently.
The “Facts on Electricity Prices” document, posted by the Department of Resources and Energy (now part of the Industry portfolio), purports to explain to consumers the reason for recent electricity price rises, and what they, and the government, can do about it.
That’s a fair enough proposition. But it is the unusual language, selective information and outdated data that raises suspicion that this document serves another purpose. Continue reading
Time to spill truth on uranium sector, Townsville Bulletin, DAVE SWEENEY, 23 Nov 13, THERE is an old saying that no trader calls out ‘‘bad fish’’. So it comes as no surprise that a former uranium company executive now paid to do public relations for the uranium sector will say all is well in the industry (Uranium: safety first, TB, 18/11). The reality is the industry is in very poor shape, financially and operationally – as can be seen by the recent mothballing of the Honeymoon mine in South Australia, because the numbers didn’t add up, and the backroom push by the Queensland Resources Council to get ‘‘royalty relief for Queensland uranium mines that have not even filed an application to develop yet.
The most recent independent assessment of the Australian uranium industry – an inquiry by the Australian Senate in October 2003 – found the sector characterised by underperformance and noncompliance, an absence of reliable data to measure contamination or its impact and an operational culture focused on the short-term.
Uranium mining is a high-risk, low-return sector that poses unique unresolved and long-lived threats and does not enjoy secure social license. Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima. Every Australian uranium mining operation has a history of leaks and spills. The need to manage radioactive materials over extremely long periods, along with security and
proliferation concerns, make uranium mining fundamentally different from other mining. In the shadow of Fukushima, and given the call by the UN Secretary General in September 2011 that Australia conduct an indepth assessment of the net cost impact of the impacts of uranium mining on communities and ecosystems, it is time the industry and state and federal governments supported a comprehensive and independent assessment of the costs and consequences.
The continued failure to do so highlights the industry’s preference for public relations over public scrutiny– and the fact that uranium is a very smelly fish.
Greg Hunt uses Wikipedia research to dismiss links between climate change and bushfires October 23, 2013 Esther Han, Judith IrelandEnvironment Minister Greg Hunt has hosed down suggestions of a link between climate change and increased bushfire intensity, saying he had ”looked up what Wikipedia” said and it was clear that bushfires in Australia were frequent events that had occurred during hotter months since before European settlement.
Wildfires become more pervasive and dangerous
His comments come as scientists, environment groups and politicians have raised concerns, in the wake of massive bushfires in New South Wales, that the increasing extreme weather events are linked to climate change…..
The head of the UN’s climate change negotiations, Christiana Figueres, and former US vice-president and climate change activist Al Gore have this week both weighed into the debate, criticising the Abbott government over its moves to scrap the carbon price. They also said the evidence was clear that extreme weather would be more frequent as the planet warmed.
She noted that the World Meteorological Organisation had not yet established a direct link between the NSW fires and climate change. Mr Hunt and Ms Figueres spoke by telephone overnight after Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday rejected Ms Figueres’ assessment that a clear link existed between bushfires and climate change, saying she was ”talking through her hat”.
On Monday, Ms Figueres had told CNN that the Coalition government would pay a high political and financial price for its decision to scrap carbon pricing. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/greg-hunt-uses-wikipedia-research-to-dismiss-links-between-climate-change-and-bushfires-20131023-2w1w5.html#ixzz2ilagdbdT
AND WHAT WIKIPEDIA ACTUALLY DOES SAY
Climate change Australia’s climate has been trending toward more bushfire weather over the last 30 years. The Climate Commission found that “The intensity and seasonality of large bushfires in south-east Australia appears to be changing, with climate change a possible contributing factor.”
A 2006 report by the Bushfire CRC identified South Eastern Australia as one of the 3 most fire-prone areas in the world, and concluded that an increase in fire-weather risk is likely at most sites over the next several decades, including the average number of days when the Forest Fire Danger Index rating is very high or extreme. It also found that the combined frequencies of days with very high and extreme FFDI ratings are likely to increase 4-25% by 2020 and 15-70% by 2050, and that the increase in fire-weather risk is generally largest inland.
The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report due to be released in 2014 warns that Australia’s very high and extreme fire danger days will increase by up to 30% by 2020, and up to 100% by 2050. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushfires_in_Australia
Plenty of funding is available. The USA’s Department of Energy funds programs worldwide, (including in Australia) to research dodgy science about the safety ‒ even alleged benefits ‒ of low level ionising radiation. Nuclear physicists and others, quite inexpert in this field, pronounce solemnly about non-hazardous nature of low dose radiation.
The anti-science about ionising radiation Independent Australia Some people would have you believe that low level ionising radiation is perfectly safe; this is a sinister and troubling fallacy, says Noel Wauchope. 10 Oct 13 DENIAL OF THE HEALTH EFFECTS of ionising radiation is the latest of the lies against science……….none of these motivations would get “airplay” ‒ would prevail, if it were not for the money motive, – that’s the impetus behind public relations people, consultants, journalists, commentators, TV producers, film-makers, and so on who are paid by think tanks that are fronts for polluting industries and billionaires like the Koch Brothers. And don’t let’s forget the scientists and science media who are paid by governments that are financially beholden to polluting corporations and to the military industrial complex.
There is extensive literature in books and on the Internet about the campaigns of science denial regarding asbestos, tobacco and climate change. These are global campaigns, but Australia is well represented.
The climate sceptic campaign has followed the model of the tobacco lobby…….
neither the “old” nor the “new” media are properly addressing the issue of anti-science about ionising radiation. Continue reading
Wind turbine syndrome: farm hosts tell very different story The Conversation, Simon Chapman Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney 18 Sept 13 People who host wind turbines on their properties and derive rental income from wind energy companies have important stories to tell about living alongside turbines, but they’ve largely been absent from the debate on wind farms and health. Australian filmmaker and researcher Neil Barrett is finally giving this critical group a voice in his new short film, The way the wind blows, released today.
Turbine hosts at Waubra earn A$8,000 a year for each turbine on their land. In the bush, the expression that wind farms can “drought-proof a farm” is common: a land owner with ten turbines can wake up each morning comfortable in the thought that a tough year with poor rain or bad frosts can be ridden out, thanks to income from wind generation.
All of Barrett’s interviewees say they can hear the turbines but none say they are bothered by them or suffer from any health problems they attribute to the turbines. Continue reading
More than two-thirds of Australian wind farms including more than half of those with large turbines have never received a single complaint. Two whole states – Western Australia and Tasmania – have seen no complaints.
Wind turbine syndrome: farm hosts tell very different story The Conversation, Simon Chapman Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney 18 Sept 13 “………Laurie and the Waubra Foundation have done all they can to spread concern about the harms they allege are caused by living near wind farms. One former Waubra resident has been particularly prominent, speaking emotionally at anti-wind farm meetings about how wind farms have ruined his health and caused his family to move to Ballarat, at great personal expense.
In a statement that would be of immense interest to Apple, Samsung and Nokia, he recently told a meeting in Barringhup that electricity generated by wind turbines started charging his cell phone without it being plugged in:
I’ve had my … mobile phone go into charge mode in the middle of the paddock, away from everywhere.
In 2012, he wrote a public submission to a parliamentary inquiry where he revealed he had suffered a serious head injury some eight years before the wind farm opened in 2010:
I have been in brain training care and rehabilitation for about ten years because of an unfortunate, unrelated accident.
Indeed, the most common health complaints voiced by complainants are problems such as disturbed sleep, anxiety, hypertension and normal problems of ageing that are very prevalent in all communities, regardless of whether they have wind farms. Continue reading
More CSG Greenwashing? http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3948 18 Sept 13, What’s been a good way in the past to distance a nasty product from its bad reputation? Simply change its name. However, the strategy isn’t so effective these days in an increasingly online world where news travels fast.
According to a report on the ABC, a briefing note from the office of Resources Minister Chris Hartcher suggests changes be made to the way the coal seam gas (CSG) industry and fuel is described within Government communications and texts. Instead of the crisp ‘CSG’ term or ‘coal seam gas’, it seems Mr. Hartcher would like to see it referred to as ‘natural gas from coal seams’ and that references to coal seam gas or CSG be removed from sentences.
‘Natural’ may work as an effective greenwashing term for some products; but the recommended change won’t fool many – it will (and has already) just further incited those dedicated to exposing the many serious issues involved with extracting the fossil fuel. In addition to the interruptions to agriculture and potential contamination of water supplies; according to Zero Emissions and other sources, coal seam gas is even more emissions intensive than coal when total lifecycle emissions are taken into account.
Research recently carried out by scientists at the University of Queensland determined that not only would a shift from coal-fired to gas-fired electricity generation in Australia fail to deliver significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions;wholesale electricity prices would be higher than with a renewable energy option.
According to Aidan Ricketts from CSG Free Northern Rivers, quoted by theNorthern Star; the attempt to relabel coal seam gas is “.. just another example of the government falling in line with industry. They’re trying to get away from the words which have become poison.”
It would seem changing how CSG is referred to is just a case of putting lipstick on a particularly filthy and greedy pig.
Report offers field guide to the climate change denial industry, Guardian, Graham Readfearn, 13 Sept 13, “…. There is also a potted and seldom-told history of how key figures in the United States worked to connect with like-minded people in Australia to encourage efforts Down Under to counter calls to cut emissions.
One of the first efforts came courtesy of free market promotion unit The Institute of Public Affairs, which doesn’t reveal its funders, which in 1990 sponsored a tour by veteran sceptic Fred Singer around Australia. TheIPA’s magazine reported Singer’s visit: “The greenhouse theory of global warming is contradicted by the evidence, a prominent US scientist has told the IPA.”
Later, Dealing in Doubt recalls planning meetings in the mid-90s with conservative think tanks in the US and Australia where strategies were developed to counter calls for action.
One of those characters, Australian businessman and former mining executive Hugh Morgan, was announced by Liberal MP Greg Hunt in 2011 as a member of the Coalition’s business advisory council on climate change………
Internal Heartland Institute documents have shown that one of the authors of the report, Australian geologist Dr Bob Carter, was to be paid $1667 a month for his work on the report (for anyone interested, Skeptical Science has a good summary of the key differences between the genuine IPCC report and the NIPCC)……. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2013/sep/12/greenpeace-climate-change-denial-dealing-doubt-report
Coalition’s election victory doesn’t mean a mandate to do anything it pleases PAUL SYVRET THE COURIER-MAIL SEPTEMBER 10, 2013 JUST what exactly is this thing we call a “mandate” beyond being arguably one of the most abused words in the political lexicon? Is mandate something to do with marriage equality or the electoral equivalent of a mankini (bright Speedo red, of course) except with a man and a … Actually, let’s not go there.
I ask this because to listen to some members of the incoming government, the word seems interchangeable with terms like carte blanche, or perhaps even “open season”. Certainly Australia’s Climate Change Minister-in-waiting Greg Hunt seems convinced that an election win equals a “mandate” and constitutes, ipso facto, a requirement that all in the Parliament bend over and offer blind obeisance to the new world order.
Hunt claims the election was a “referendum on the carbon tax” and the Australian people have spoken overwhelmingly in favour of giving the new Government a licence to rip the carbon pricing scheme limb from limb.
Bollocks. Polling consistently showed carbon pricing way down the list of voter concerns, making the election no more a referendum on carbon that it was on Bronwyn Bishop’s hair lacquer.
Secondly, the election result gives the new Government a mandate to introduce its policies and prosecute an argument for their passage through Parliament, nothing more. This may come as a shock to some conservative voters, but millions of Australians viewed the prospect of an Abbott government with a mixture of embarrassment and despair and voted for the other mob. In the process we non-Abbott voters gave the party of our choice a mandate to push their policy platforms on our behalf, not to sell us out.
Personally speaking, as someone who supports carbon pricing for both economic and environmental reasons, I would view a decision by Labor to acquiesce to the Coalition’s Wreck-It Ralph approach as an act of gross betrayal. I – and the aforesaid millions of others – cast my vote for a party that believes in tackling climate change via a market-based solution,……. HTTP://WWW.COURIERMAIL.COM.AU/NEWS/QUEENSLAND/OPINION-COALITION8217S-ELECTION-VICTORY-DOESN8217T-MEAN-A-MANDATE-TO-DO-ANYTHING-IT-PLEASES/STORY-FNIHSRF2-1226715384036
* Uranium miners face uncertainty as new Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolds
* Australia’s Toro says need for new uranium mines still stands
SYDNEY, Aug 21 (Reuters) – Revelations of more toxic leaks from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will raise second-thoughts about Japan’s nuclear future, but won’t halt the long-term global expansion of the industry, the head of a uranium mining company said.
“It reinvigorates the heightened state of nervousness, it surely will make the Japanese government and nuclear regulatory authorities more cautious and conservative in the decisions about the restart,” said Vanessa Guthrie, managing director of Australia’s Toro Energy Ltd, which expects to start mining uranium in Australia in 2016.
Japan is set to raise the severity rating of the leak to level 3, or “serious incident”, on an international scale for radiological releases, underlining a deepening sense of crisis at the site.
The price of uranium, used mainly as fuel for nuclear reactors, plunged after the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima plant 240 km (150 miles) from Tokyo and has struggled to recover ever since. August uranium futures stood at $35.15 per pound on Wednesday compared with $68 per pound before the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster.
However, Guthrie said contract prices between uranium miners and buyers standing at around $58-$59 a pound more accurately reflect the supply and demand balance than the spot price.
Operating costs in the industry range between $22-$25 per pound up to the high $40s, Guthrie said……
I have often been accused by nuclear lobbyists of beong – that awful thing “emotional”. An anti-nuclear person speaking out is “emotional” (obviously not sensible). Indeed, an anti nuclear woman is “hysterical”.
So I find it almost hysterical that Australia’s uranium propagandists are now being advised to be emotional – C.M .
- “……..Australia’s CSG industry could learn a few lessons from the way the uranium industry worked on its image during the past three to four decades…….
in 2006, the uranium sector sought to bring a more sophisticated approach to its advocacy on public policy and in the following years there were some substantial successes…… the Australian uranium industry made a number of fundamental changes to the way it approached policy debates that helped improve its public reputation.
For today’s CSG industry, there are five important lessons that could be learned from the uranium sector’s experience.
Firstly, hearts and minds will not be won by facts alone. Good advocacy requires reliable factual information, but emotions will play a surprisingly important role in even the most technical debate. Understanding this is the first step to developing a communications strategy that will resonate with audiences.
Secondly, the CSG industry must learn that the battle is all about trust. Building trust takes many things, from showing technical ability to emotional intelligence, and company representatives will need to have both. Continue reading
Australia’s One Nation under climate science denial, The Guardian, by Graham Readfearn Friday 16 August 2013 Fringe and extremist political groups in Australia are pushing climate science denial soundbites……. One Nation appears to have gone shopping to the Climate Science Denial Mart and come back with the whole deli counter of debunked talking points.
“What’s really behind all the global warming hoopla,” One Nation’s website asks.
“Power. It’s the same old Marxist/Communist/Fascist collectivist shtick, dressed up in new clothes. Global warming is all about a power grab by a wealthy elite and their collectivist sycophants — using the (United Nations) as a cover and tool.”
Elsewhere, One Nation accuses the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO of engaging in the corruption of science. Continue reading
In concert with pseudoscientific assertions, outrage and emotion seem to be integral in driving the skewed perception that wind farms are a risk to health.
A focus on rousing anger has been at the heart of the anti-wind movement for some time. New York anti-wind activist Calvin Luther Martin wrote in 2009 that wind farm opponents should “screw concerned and start getting angry and defiant.”
The same philosophy has been deployed by the anonymously run blog ‘Stop These Things’. Replete with direct vilification of individuals in the wind industry (including myself), death threats, threats of violence and comparisons to genocidal regimes, the anonymous author/s attempt to inspire anger and aggression.
Facts out, wind outrage in Climate Spectator Ketan Joshi 6 Aug 13, Recently, I relayed the tale of a man angrily questioning the health effects of wind farms, and proceeding to smoke a cigarette: two risks that he seemed to react to with odd disparity. In that piece, I explored some of the reasons why it can be quite natural for us to adopt pseudoscience, when it’s predicated on fear and uncertainty.
But that’s only part of the chain of events that has led to ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ consuming much of the oxygen of public discourse around wind energy. Community, control and risk perception also play a big role in the genesis of authentic health fears, based on fabricated science.
Technologies designed to meet our ravenous demand for electricity have historically spurred an undercurrent of nervousness in those that live near them………….
In late May, ABC’s ‘Background Briefing’ ran a story on the purported health impacts of wind energy, and a 200-turbine development proposed for the small community of King Island, off the coast of Tasmania. Simon Chapman, Professor in Public Health at Sydney University, states during the story that 17 evidence reviews (recently updated to 19) all reach a similar conclusion: the likelihood that wind farms have direct health impacts on human physiology, through inaudible low-frequency noise emissions, is close to nil.
Despite a conspicuous lack of supporting scientific evidence, opposition to wind farms is regularly predicated on the belief that the health risks are high. Anecdotal reports of health impacts are collated and dispersed by anti-wind groups such as the Waubra Foundation. When the CEO of the Waubra Foundation, Sarah Laurie, visited the King Island community, she informed residents that “Yes, wind turbines do cause adverse health effects” and linked wind energy to autistic behaviour.
Labelling an illusory causal link as established medical truth is not the only technique utilised by anti-wind groups to inspire opposition to wind farms. Continue reading
Putting the Con back into Conference: No social license for nuclear power. July 25: Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative and Uranium Free NSW On July 25/26 the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is holding a conference in Sydney titled ‘Nuclear Energy for Australia?’
The conference might be framed as a question but the answer is predictable given that the majority of keynote speakers are from organisations in favour of developing a nuclear power industry in Australia, including industry representative bodies and pro-nuclear think tanks.
“The idea of nuclear power in Australia has been tested and rejected many times by the Australian public,” said Beyond Nuclear Initiative coordinator Natalie Wasley. “Former Prime Minister John Howard was forced to back down from ambitious nuclear power plans when people demanded to know which postcodes would be targeted. The broad community challenge to current plans for a low and intermediate-level radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory would translate to fierce opposition to plans for storage of high-level waste from nuclear power reactors.”
Advocates have tried to rebrand nuclear power as a solution to climate change concerns, but actual energy generation trends have not followed this optimistic rebranding. The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013 discerns that the impact of Fukushima on the global nuclear industry has become increasingly visible, noting that Global electricity generation from nuclear plants dropped by a historic 7 percent in 2012, adding to the record drop of 4 percent in 2011.
“Nuclear is costly and contaminating and our energy future is renewable, not radioactive,” said Ms Wasley.
Sakyo Noda from the Uranium Free NSW collective said “Uranium from Australia was present in Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the authority is still unable to control the situation – recently TEPCO admitted that contaminated water was leaking into the ocean”
“Uranium mining is the beginning of the catastrophic nuclear chain. We are trying to stop uranium exploration in NSW because we can’t risk another nuclear accident and leave contaminated soil, water and air to the next generations. The radiation health risk and impact on children affected by Fukushima has not yet been fully revealed”, Mr Noda concluded.
In August 2012 a broad coalition of trade unions, health and environment groups, the NSW ALP and NSW Greens launched the NSW Uranium Free Charter in response to the overturning of the 26 year moratorium on uranium exploration in the state.
The Charter states in part: The nuclear industry promotes nuclear power as a solution to climate change. It is not. We cannot solve one environmental and social problem by embracing another. Investment in renewable energy would create thousands of jobs, especially in regional Australia, without the health risks associated with uranium mining and nuclear energy.
Much of the climate change scepticism in Australia can be traced back to the free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a prominent news source and intellectual role model for conservative politicians, industry magnates, religious leaders and opinion makers in the media.
The mining industry is a major IPA sponsor and occupies senior positions on its board of directors. The IPA opposes regulations on GHG emissions and rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. It vilifies climate scientists, environmentalists and the political left.
Think tank a false climate prophet, SMH June 20, 2013 – Elaine McKewon A free-market think tank has been heavily pushing climate change scepticism. “…….What began as an almost universal acceptance of the science and the need for action has become a false debate between climate change scientists and ideologically driven climate change “sceptics”.
On one side, we have 97 per cent of climate scientists who endorse the empirically based reality that Earth has been warming since the mid-20th century, that human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the main cause, and that deep and rapid reductions in global emissions are necessary to avoid the worst impacts.
Then there’s the alternative reality in which there’s no scientific consensus and the idea that human-induced GHG emissions cause global warming is either a hoax, a religion or a scare tactic cooked up to justify higher taxes and restrictions on personal freedoms. This is the “reality” in which many Australians, including several of our political and religious leaders, appear to live. Continue reading