Australian news, and some related international items

A billion people take part in Earth Hour. Australian P.M. links it to climate change action

Light idea now shared by a billion  March 31, 2012  MORE than a billion people will switch off their lights at 8.30 tonight as a symbol of their commitment to tackle human-induced climate change.

Earth Hour, which started in Sydney in 2007, has now spread to 5251 cities and towns in 147 nations and territories, making it the largest voluntary environment movement in history.

see this  graph – dramatic global growth in Earth Hour  Interactive: Earth Hour around the world

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, thanked everyone who had pledged to take part, and linked the event to the government’s carbon price plan, which comes into force on July 1.

”What began in Sydney as a simple idea to raise awareness of climate change – to switch off the lights for an hour – has become a global success,” Ms Gillard said in a statement.

The government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, with the biggest greenhouse gas emitting companies forced to buy permits to pollute, with much of the proceeds being spent replacing fossil-fuelled power with renewable energy.

A vast array of organisations, communities and businesses have decided to take part in Earth Hour this year.

“Turning off our lights is a symbol of our commitment to sustainable energy for all. We need to fuel our future with clean, efficient and affordable energy,” said the secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. The UN headquarters will switch out its lights along with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald, supports Earth Hour.

Details for all events at @earthhour2012 on Twitter and

March 31, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

One Aboriginal elder may hamper the plans of uranium giant BHP Billiton

LEGAL CHALLENGE OF FEDERAL ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS APPROVAL OF THE OLYMPIC DAM EXPANSION, Nectaria Calan, 31 March 12,   Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, Arabunna elder and honorary president of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, is challenging the Federal Environment Minister’s approval of the Olympic Dam Expansion, on the grounds that various environmental impacts of the project were not properly considered. The case will be heard on the 3rd and 4th of April in the Federal Court, Adelaide.

This is an administrative challenge. If Uncle Kevin succeeds, the Minister will be forced to re-consider the approval and show that the contested environmental impacts have been properly considered. This may delay the project, and is well-timed in that the BHP Board of Directors are currently considering whether to proceed with the project.

BHP Billiton and the South Australian government have successfully applied to become parties to the proceedings. This means that they will be throwing their weight behind the Federal Environment Minister.

March 31, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Australia, Cocos Islands and our regional neighbours do not need USA drones

Stop pandering to the Americans  The Age, Adrian Jackson, March 30, 2012 SUGGESTIONS that the Cocos Islands could be abase for US drones is not in Australia’s national interest (”Australia may host US drones at Cocos”, The Age, 28/12). We have good relations with China and India, the new superpowers of the 21st century as the US and Europe decline. Why antagonise large nations in our region which are also good trading partners?

Australia is capable of patrolling the Indian Ocean off our west coast. If drones are to be operated from Australian soil, let it be drones owned by the RAAF, not the USAF. Have the Australian residents of the Cocos Islands been consulted?

We know how the residents of Diego Garcia and Bikini Atoll suffered forced relocation and how Okinawa has been treated by military base occupation. Many Okinawans loathe the Americans. Even the construction of the detention centre on Christmas Island causes problems for Australians, particularly house rent prices. Australians on the Cocos Islands deserve better and our government should not pander to the paranoia of the US.

March 31, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics international | | Leave a comment

Denmark boosts its economy, jobs, with 100% renewable energy Bill passed

Denmark Passes Legislation: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050!, News , 30 March 12,  Denmark’s Parliament has passed the most ambitious green economy plan in the world: it will generate 35% of its energy from renewable energy by 2020 and 100% by 2050. Continue reading

March 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Liberal/National M.P. wants uranium mining in New South Wales – just not in his backyard

map shows uranium exploration areas in NSW

MP supports uranium exploration Northern Rivers Echo, Rebecca Masters | 30th March 2012  TWEED MP Geoff Provest has supported legislation changes that allow uranium exploration across the state but maintains he is still firmly against any form of mining on the Tweed..

… State Labor MP Walt Secord raised his fears in parliament this week that the legislation opened the door to uranium mining throughout the Clarence Moreton Basin on the north coast, potentially contaminating the environment and risking the health of communities in the Tweed.

“In 1986, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the NSW parliament agreed that the potential release of toxic elements could contaminate large areas of land and pollute our rivers,” Mr Secord said.

“They knew then, as Labor knows now, that there is still no failsafe way to transport and manage nuclear waste. “Make no mistake, the government’s decision to allow uranium exploration is a huge betrayal.”…….

Outside of parliament, Mr Provest has dismissed Mr Secord’s comments as “fear-mongering.”…….. “I will always be against any form of mining on the north coast, this is simply to give us an idea of what is in the ground.”

March 31, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power industry in its death throes in USA

 “nuclear power is neither affordable nor worth the risk….. the very different natures of nuclear disaster versus coal
pollution rightly makes people worried.

Expert: Nuclear Power Is On Its Deathbed A new report from a University of Vermont researcher says the cost of the safety measures needed for nuclear energy will eventually make the power source economically unviable USA News, By JASON KOEBLER March 30, 2012   After the Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan last year, the rising costs of nuclear energy could deliver a knockout punch to its future use in the United States, according to a researcher at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment.

“From my point of view, the fundamental nature of [nuclear] technology suggests that the future will be as clouded as the past,” says Mark Cooper, the author of the report. Continue reading

March 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment