Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s amazing and unique animal, the giant cuttlefish, should be saved from BHP Billiton

Australians in general are not aware of the extraordinary beauty, and uniqueness, of the Giant Cuttlefish.  This superb animal is a tourist attraction, for those who know about it. It moves gracefully, and changes its colour often, going through an array of beautiful colours. The giant cuttlefish depends on very special conditions, with  a delicate balance of salinity in the water, These conditions are unique to the upper area of Spencer Gulf, in South Australia, where  the cuttlefish migrate each winter to breed.

If it were the kangaroo, or the koala, that was threatened by BHP Billiton’s project for a monster uranium mine, and desalination plant, there would surely be a public outcry across Australia, and an iconic species would be saved from extinction.

As it is, those who understand this critical issue can draw hope only from the current woes of BHP.  I mean -that the economic viability of  the proposed Olympic damn  new monster uranium mine is now in doubt.  Money problems – such as the $30 billion cost of the megamine – might save the giant cuttlefish,  – sure as hell the Australian government isn’t going to save it. – Christina Macpherson

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Australia’s politicians ignorant about the economic impact of solar photovoltaic energy

rooftop solar PV was about to play a significant role in the electricity market, so much so that rooftop solar alone could add 12,000 megawatts to 18,000MW to Australia’s electricity capacity by 2031

 the economics of solar PV has changed dramatically in recent years.

Politics must catch up with solar BY: GILES PARKINSON  The Australian June 01, 2012 IT is time politicians in state and federal parliaments had a look at what’s happening in the solar photovoltaic market. There is a revolution going on in the electricity industry and no one in politics seems to have noticed.

This was made clear this week by a report from the Australian Energy Market Operator, which supervises the operation of the electricity grid in the eastern states, and which for the first time has produced a separate report analysis the impact of rooftop solar PV. It came to conclusions that would appear remarkable to those not close to the solar industry. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Martin Ferguson got Australian government to weaken protection of iconic species, the giant cuttlefish

There is no publicly available explanation as to why and on what basis Minister Burke overturned his Department’s advice and acted in accordance with lobbying comments by the Minister for Resources and downgraded the recommended required level of protection accorded to the Australian Giant Cuttlefish from any adverse impacts by the operations of BHP Billiton’s proposed desalination plant.

Ferguson lobbying on Olympic Dam & Burke downgrading protection to the Australian Giant Cuttlefish, by David Noonan, 4 June 12 FOI documents reveal that on the same day that Min Burke signed the EPBC Act Approval to Olympic Dam (10th Oct 2011) a final key change was made to the conditions of approval – in accordance with lobbying by the Resources Minister [Martin Ferguson] and against Department of Environment advice that had already taken account of comments by the Resources Minister – to downgrade the recommended level of required protection that the activities covered by the approval must not result in any adverse impact on the abundance and distribution of Australian Giant Cuttlefish and to restrict the department to only prosecute BHP Billiton for non-compliance representing significant adverse impacts on the Cuttlefish breeding population resulting from operations of the proposed Desalination plant at Point Lowly in Upper Spencer Gulf. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 1 Comment

Unique Australian species – the giant cuttlefish now more threatened by Olympic Damn expansion.

It has also emerged that subtle changes to the wording of the Olympic Dam mine’s approval watered down recommended protection of the giant cuttlefish. 

 following a meeting with Mr Burke, the department [had] backflipped.

Greens SA leader Mark Parnell, who obtained the documents under Freedom of Information, said it would be much harder for the department to prosecute BHP Billiton if anything went wrong.

Cuttlefish population in decline: BHP, Heather Kennett | Brad Crouch, 4 June 12 June 02, 2012   A NEW study has found a serious reduction in giant cuttlefish numbers in the region around Whyalla.  Research commissioned by BHP Billiton – which wants to build a desalination plant near Whyalla – has found the cuttlefish population is already in serious decline ahead of hyper-saline brine being pumped from a future plant into Spencer Gulf….

. Tens of thousands of giant cuttlefish head to the Whyalla region each
winter to breed, which has become a tourist attraction. Their annual ritual has also become a pivotal environmental argument against BHP Billiton’s coastal desalination plant, which is part of its planned expansion of the Olympic Dam mine. ….. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman on behalf of the polluting industries

The move comes as a UNESCO report warned coastal developments in Queensland were posing a risk to the reef.

Tony Abbott’s push to cut green tape would benefit (?)  Queensland first by: Steven Scott   The Courier-Mail June 04, 2012   QUEENSLAND would become the first state to gain greater control over environmentally sensitive developments if Tony Abbott wins the next election.

The federal Opposition has struck a preliminary deal with the Newman Government to allow it to take control of all approvals under federal environment laws, with the exception of offshore developments. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Fukushima No.4 nuclear reactor close to catastrophe

The worries gained new traction in recent days after the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said it had found a slight bulge in one of the walls of the reactor building

 questions about whether Japan’s all-out effort to convince its citizens that nuclear
power is safe kept the authorities from exploring other – and some say safer – options for storing used fuel rods.

Radioactive waste at Fukushima threatens second nuclear catastrophe 1zcxu.html#ixzz1wgpRdAiv  Hiroko Tabuchi, Matthew Wald May 28, 2012 TOKYO:What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world’s second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl.

Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive caesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged building, covered only with plastic.

The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe. The three nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns are in a more stable state, but frequent quakes continue to rattle the region.

The worries gained new traction in recent days after the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said it had found a slight bulge in one of the walls of the reactor building, stoking fears over the building’s safety. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Overwhelming majority of Australians support solar power

In the long run, big solar is also a big money-saver. Initial set up costs are high. But because the energy source is free, big solar will save many billions of dollars worth of coal and gas bills in coming decades.

The 100% renewables survey reported many of those polled said they supported big solar power because it would help boost employment. Unlike fossil fuels, solar power is a job-rich option.

Big solar power needs democracy to switch on, Green Left  June 2, 2012, By Simon Butler If Australia were a democracy and governments had no choice but to carry out the will of the majority, we’d be well on our way to a 100% renewable power grid.

Recent polling organised by climate action groups around the country found that 94% of 12,000 people polled said they wanted big solar power stations built in Australia . And 93% of those polled said the government should invest public money to make that happen. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Global warming will affect nuclear power plants badly

US, European nuclear and coal-fired electrical plants vulnerable to climate change: study Phys Og, June 3, 2012 Warmer water and reduced river flows in the United States and Europe in recent years have led to reduced production, or temporary shutdown, of several thermoelectric power plants. For instance, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama had to shut down more than once last summer because the Tennessee River’s water was too warm to use it for
A study by European and University of Washington scientists published today in Nature Climate Change projects that in the next 50 years warmer water and lower flows will lead to more such power disruptions. The authors predict that thermoelectric power generating capacity from 2031 to 2060 will decrease by between 4 and 16 percent in the U.S. and 6 to 19 percent in Europe due to lack of cooling water. The likelihood of extreme drops in power generation—complete or almost-total shutdowns—is projected to almost triple. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small solar panels that track the sun

includes video  Heliowatcher allows solar panels to track the sun   4 June 12, They’re called solar panels for a reason: they need the sun in order to generate electricity. Whether we’re talking about pocket-sized, portable solar chargers or massive rooftop arrays, direct sunlight is the must-have ingredient on which all other elements of solar-energy production depends.

You might think that simply placing solar panels on a rooftop or balcony free from shade would be enough. Except there’s that small matter of Earth rotating on its axis. So throughout the day, the sun moves across the sky, cutting into the efficiency of fixed panels. But what if the panels could automatically change their position to follow the sun and enjoy an uninterrupted flow of direct sunlight? Two electrical engineering students at Cornell are currently testing just such a technology, and it looks promising.

As this review points out , HelioWatcher’s design is simple and effective: “The base is mounted like a Lazy Susan, able to pivot on the horizontal plane. The bottom edge of the solar panel is mounted with two door hinges, with a motorized screw jack used to raise and lower it.” Using a GPS module and magnetometer, the HelioWatcher  allows the user to place the system anywhere in the world without any calibration. The HelioWatcher then calculates what the sun’s current location is and orients the panel to the appropriate angle. It also utilizes a quadrature of light-detecting diodes to correct for short-term light obstruction, such as clouds or shade.

This system is a vast improvement over other solar tracking systems that adjust position based on either a predetermined algorithm or light detection. Instead HelioWatcher combines elements of both technologies to leverage the guaranteed accuracy of a geospatial algorithm while also correcting for local or short-term changes, such as cloud cover or shade. Here’s a video, prepared by the two students, that explains the system:

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian women at the forefront of economic change for sustainability

Positive need for a nurturing role, SMH by Cosima Marriner  June 3, 2012 ROMILLY MADEW believes consumers can change the way they behave to preserve the planet – and save money at the same time. She is representative of a coterie of women who are taking leadership positions in the sustainability field. They do not identify as tree huggers, but as change agents. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Renewable energy jobs growing by millions

Renewable Energy Sector Employs Over 5 Million  4 June 12, by Energy Matters According to a recent UN report, the number of renewable energy jobs doubled globally between 2007 and 2011 and millions more will be employed in the sector over the next 20 years.

The shift to a greener global economy could see an additional 15 to 60 million additional job over the next two decades according to a study led by the Green Jobs Initiative; a UN International Labour Organization (ILO) project. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Massachusetts USA – photovoltaic solar energy is booming

Solar power hot all over Cape, state Jun 3McClatchy-Tribune Regional News – Patrick Cassidy Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass. Solar in Massachusetts is on fire. Over the past two years, capacity from photovoltaic panels across the state has more than quadrupled from 25 to 115 megawatts, enough to power about 115,000 homes, according to figures provided by state energy officials and energy information websites. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Record production of solar power in Britain

Weatherwatch: long days of sunshine double electricity output Paul Brown  3 June 2012  The last nine days of May saw a record production of solar power in Britain. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A climate-friendly urban renewal

Barangaroo will have big impact but no footprint SMH, June 3, 2012  IT IS the biggest urban renewal project since the Olympic site was built at Homebush Bay, but Barangaroo is also likely to be the greenest.
The Barangaroo Delivery Authority’s goal is to make the precinct the first of its size in the world to be ”climate positive”. That means the site will generate more renewable energy than it uses, it will recycle and export more water than it uses and recycle more waste than it generates.

The Green Building Council of Australia expects the $6 billion Lend Lease development will be the benchmark by which similar projects could be measured in the future…… It will generate enough solar energy to serve the public areas of the site. There will be a recycled water service and a waste recycling service. Only recycled water will be used for flushing toilets, irrigation and fire sprinklers.
Conventional cars will be discouraged with electric car power stations in the car parks, walking and cycling networks through the precinct and strong public transport links……..

June 4, 2012 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | | Leave a comment