Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Aborigines could run their own solar energy projects – better than being uranium miners

Amidst the brouhaha of the ABC’s weird documentary on beliefs about climate change, I thought of reviving my Flat Earth project.  The ABC would surely give me equal time.

But, more interesting – the Uranium Association’s pitch to give jobs to Aborigines. When I think about Aboriginal culture – how they belong to the land, their historic role of looking after the land, water, plants and animals, I can’t see uranium mining as being in any way a satisfying job , in such a culture.

I was struck by the comparison with what is happening in USA, where the government has awarded $6.5 million to spur renewable energy development on tribal lands.  The lands will not be destroyed, as they are with uranium mining.  The work will not be dirty and cancer-causing.  the Navajo will not be solely employees, but will own the business.  The projects will be set up on arid, or semi arid land.

Now why can’t Australia do the same kind of positive thing for its Aboriginal people, rather than leave them to function as servants and part of the spin of  the dirty, dangerous, uranium/nuclear industry?


April 27, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

The Australian Uranium Association’s plan to make Aborigines become uranium miners

Uranium industry to set Indigenous jobs benchmark ABC News By Myles Morgan  April 27, 2012   The body representing Australia’s uranium miners and associated businesses says the industry will start to set targets for Indigenous employment from this year. The Australian Uranium Association says each company it represents
will set its own targets for providing jobs to indigenous people, which will be reviewed annually.

Association chief executive Michael Angwin says Indigenous people deserve to be represented in the uranium industry. “Our projects are mostly on land owned by Indigenous people,” he said…… He says says the plan follows advice from the association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group……

April 27, 2012 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Navajo tribes going into the solar energy business, with USA government support

“There’s a strong desire in Indian Country to step out of the role of just a landlord that is collecting rents to being involved in the equity ownership,” MacCourt said.Erny Zah, spokesman for Navajo

The 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant planned for the outlying Navajo community of To’Hajiilee would cover more than 200 acres.

Navajo community banks on proposed solar array, Bloomberg, By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, 26 April 12, TO’HAJIILEE, N.M.  This flat, dusty stretch of prairie in central New Mexico is where the leaders of a remote, sparsely populated American Indian community envision a sea of solar panels capable of producing enough electricity for more than 10,000 homes miles away from the reservation.

The To’Hajiilee solar project is one of 19 energy projects that will share in $6.5 million recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to spur renewable energy development on tribal lands. About
two-thirds of the money is earmarked for tribes in the West, and most of that will be going toward getting projects in New Mexico andArizona off the ground…… At stake is a wealth of untapped potential. Continue reading

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Balance” in the media: the ABC gives anti-science a national platform

ABC’s latest climate change doco another PR victory for doubters Crikey, by Clive Hamilton  27 April12The strategy of doubt-mongering has been highly effective for climate deniers at exploiting the media’s practice of presenting “two sides” to controversial issues. The media have an ethical commitment to provide “balance” and stories are more interesting if there is a conflict to report, whether that conflict is real or manufactured.  Which is why ABC TV’s I Can Change Your Mind … About Climate Change is yet another victory for climate denial ..

.. If there were a real debate among scientists, then the climate deniers would be publishing their counter-evidence in the professional scientific journals. But they are not, because they do not have evidence that will stand up to scrutiny.

So they set out to do something else, to create the impression in the public mind that there is a serious debate among scientists about global warming. To do so they must shift the terrain away from the scientific journals and into the popular media, where they do not have to face the scrutiny of experts.

It’s certain that when asked last year to participate in the program, Minchin grabbed the chance with two hands. His denialist comrades have been patting him on the back ever since…..

Scholars such as Naomi Oreskes have exposed the tactics of the climate deniers with a mass of documentary evidence.

Yet the ABC persists with the charade of “providing balance”. Some news organisations abroad have decided they will no longer fall for the doubt-mongering ruse. Professional pride now prevents editors and journalists from being manipulated by the denial machine.

The BBC would not air a program such as this. In the United States, National Public Radio has revised its ethics handbook. “Our goal,” it states, “is not … to produce stories that create the appearance of balance, but to seek the truth.”

When it reports on questions such as climate science its aim is not the spurious fairness of presenting “both sides”; instead NPR commits itself to be “fair to the truth”.  “To be fair to the truth.” Once we simply expected that of the national broadcaster. This latest program tells us that the truth no longer carries so much weight at the ABC, not when it comes to climate science.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | | Leave a comment

ABC climate opinion documentary pits Minchin’s duds against scientific experts

If it’s experts you’re after, look elsewhere REneweconomy, By    27 April 2012 Last night the ABC premiered the fascinating documentary “I can change your mind about climate”, in which Nick Minchin, the recently retired Liberal senator, and Anna Rose, the co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, attempted to change each other’s minds about the reality of human-induced climate change.

As you might imagine, Minchin is sceptical of any human impact on the climate. He demands a high standard of proof before embarking on any radical changes that might require government intervention. Rose, while acknowledging some uncertainties, is convinced that we have enough information to act, and we must do so urgently to avoid a global catastrophe.

Climate scientists – I’m talking about the 97% or so that agree that humans have a considerable influence on the climate – are very uneasy with the false balance that a program such as this engenders. From the moment a climate scientist steps onto the stage with a climate denier, the audience’s default assumption will be that there is a 50:50 contest going on. It is going to be difficult or impossible for the scientist to win the argument at the 97:3 level that characterises the debate amongst experts, let alone the 99.99:0.01 level as it exists, roughly, in the scientific literature.

Anna Rose was very aware of this issue and, as she writes in her book Madlands, thought long and hard before agreeing to participate in the documentary. But with the producers going to proceed with Rose or with someone else, she bravely stepped up to the plate…..

For me, the most surprising part of the documentary was Minchin’s choice of experts: they were all duds who would only influence the gullible or those blinded by ideology. Although, to be fair to Minchin, there aren’t any non-dud experts on his side to choose from….

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott the man for a fossil fuel future for Australia

 the Coalition’s refusal to recognise the CEFC as anything more valuable than a political football has been obstinate and single-minded…… Only a leader willing to ignore the threat Australia faces from its dependence on fossil fuels could so easily ignore the value of a body whose sole purpose is bringing down the cost of renewable power for all Australians. 

Abbott clings to a fossil fuel future, CLIMATE SPECTATOR,  Andrew Bray, 24 Apr 2012 In Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Lord Darlington pins the cynic as “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

As Tony Abbott tries to paint himself as an environmentalist, it’s worth asking the question: does he understand the value of renewable energy sufficiently to outweigh his finely honed sense of political opportunity?

While his address to the Australian Industry Group last Friday made not a single mention of renewable energy, greatly increased levels of renewable energy are a crucial part of any scenario that protects Australia’s environment into the future while also boosting our economy. Continue reading

April 27, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

BHP Billiton looking for more uranium in South Australia

BHP Steps Up Its Olympic Ambitions, WSJ,   By Stephen Bell, April 24, 2012,  BHP Billiton is a fully paid-up believer in the mining theory of ‘nearology’ if its latest Australian land grab is anything to go by. The Anglo-Australian miner has tabled applications for exploration licenses covering more than 10,000 square kilometers in arid regions surrounding the huge Olympic Dam copper-gold–uranium mine  in South Australia state……

BHP is expected to make a decision this year on whether to proceed with an expansion at Olympic Dam, a project analysts estimate could cost close to US$30 billion. Continue reading

April 27, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Japanese mothers rebel against the “safety spin” of government and the nuclear industry

 Often, mothers and women want to leave Fukushima and protect their kids, while men tend to accept the line, from the government and the utility, Tepco, that “all is safe.” This can lead to conflict in a culture where women are taught not to challenge their husbands or government, figures of authority. 

How a Group of Japanese Mothers Are Saying No to Nuclear Power The Fukushima disaster has brought a powerful new demographic to Japan’s anti-nuclear movement: mothers. AlterNet April 25, 2012  | Continue reading

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar energy entrepreneurs – two grandmothers in Tonga

Tonga’s Solar Grandmothers, by Energy Matters, 27 April12,  Two grandmothers from the island nation of Tonga have acquired the skills to install solar panel systems in the nation’s communities without access to mains grid electricity.

According to a report on Matangi Tonga Online , Siutiti Halatoa and Siale Leohau successfully completed a six months training course in solar power installation last year at Barefoot College, India, with the assistance of the Indian Government. The recently launched Kolomotu’a Women’s Solar Project  in Nuku’alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga, will assist the women in their role of solar installers. The project is being supported under the Tonga Energy Roadmap.

The grandmothers are the first women to be trained in solar installation in Tonga and will begin their new careers by installing solar panels in over 30 homes, starting with households without electricity in ‘Isileli, Hala ‘o Vave and Sopu.
The solar panels and other equipment have been provided by an anonymous donor and each off-grid installation will generate enough electricity to power several light bulbs and a mobile phone …….

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

26 years later, 1000 workers begin task of covering damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor

The 26 April, 1986, explosion spewed a cloud of radiation over the northern hemisphere, forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes in Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia.

Work begins on ‘mausoleum’ for worst nuclear disaster, 26 years on,   27 April 2012   TWENTY-SIX years to the day after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Ukraine yesterday began construction of a vast new metal shelter to contain the stricken Chernobyl reactor.

The 20,000-tonne structure, big enough to enclose the Statue of Liberty, is due to be completed by 2015, allowing the delicate and dangerous job of dismantling the reactor and cleaning vast amounts of radioactive waste still around it to begin.

“The Chernobyl disaster underscored that mankind must be extra careful in using nuclear technologies,” president Viktor Yanukovych said at the commencement ceremony. “Nuclear accidents lead to global consequences. They are not a problem of just one country, they affect the life of entire regions.” Continue reading

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wind power the key to Australia’s renewable energy development

Wind Power To Propel Local Renewable Energy Market April 26, 2012   Wind power is expected to play a major role in Australian renewable electricity generation in the future, making it a key component of the renewable energy market.

At present around two per cent of electricity generated in Australia comes from wind power. However according to Australian Energy Projections to 2034 – 25, a recent report released by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), this figure is expected to rise to at least 14 per cent in the coming years.

“There’s a variety of policies and initiatives that have been put in place by the government and we would expect based on our projections that wind will have a substantial impact in driving the expansion of renewable energy in Australia.

We will also see wind becoming a much more important resource in terms of electricity generation than it is today,” said Quentin Grafton, Executive Director and Chief Economist, BREE. Quentin Grafton is scheduled to present alongside other leading industry professionals at Energy IQ’s third annual Wind Farms conference , taking place in Melbourne on 29th & 30th May 2012.

The event will address major issues facing wind farm developers highlighting strategies on how to:

  • Secure financial backing and facilitate permit agreements to ensure project success
  • Choose the best project delivery model to fast track construction and ensure bankability
  • Ensure local community buy-in to your Wind Farm project

“Wind Farms 2012 is a great opportunity to see what the state of the art is in terms of wind power planning and operations. I enjoyed the event last year – there was a good crowd and quite a good representation of key people working in the sector,” said Alberto Troccoli, Head, Weather & Energy Research, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Division.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s carbon emissions down: renewable energy played a part

RENEWABLE energy has helped Australia to cut carbon emissions 04/26/2012 RENEWABLE energy has helped Australia to cut its total carbon emissions for the second year running, according to figures published in the Australian National Greenhouse Accounts, a quarterly update of Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory, which is published by the federal government’s Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Continue reading

April 27, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | | Leave a comment

Paladin Uranium’s debts require it to sell off assets

Paladin Energy under pressure to flog assets   The Australian, BY: ROSS KELLY  Wall Street Journal April 26, 2012   PALADIN Energy still needs to offload assets to meet looming debt payments and funding requirements, according to Citigroup, which has nominated two of the uranium miner’s non-producing assets in Australia and Canada as possible candidates for divestment……“If the cash squeeze became very acute on Paladin the company could also look to
sell an interest in a producing asset,” Citigroup says.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

U.S. marines unwelcome in Okinawa, moving to Australia

US to move 9,000 Marines out of Okinawa, By Reuters, 27 April 12,  WASHINGTON The United States and Japan announced on Thursday a revised agreement on streamlining the U.S. military presence on Okinawa that will shift 9,000 Marines from that southern Japanese island to Guam and other Asia-Pacific sites. The new plan, unveiled days before Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visits President Barack Obama, helps the allies work around the still unresolved, core dispute over moving the Futenma air base from a crowded part of Okinawa to a new site that had vexed relations for years.
Under the agreement, 9,000 U.S. Marines will relocate off Okinawa: 5,000 to Guam and the rest to other locations such as Hawaii and Australia, U.S. officials said……
Friction over U.S. bases intensified after the 1995 gang rape of a Japanese schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen. The case sparked widespread protests by Okinawans, who had long resented the American presence due
to crime, noise and deadly accidents. There are about 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan under a 1960 bilateral
security treaty. Okinawa, occupied by the United States from 1945-72, accounts for less than 1 percent of Japan’s total land, but hosts three-quarters of the U.S. military facilities in the country in terms of land area…..

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics international | Leave a comment