Australian news, and some related international items

A compelling case for Australian households to adopt solar energy

The Australian Energy Market Operator report on solar photovoltaics,… recognises that solar PV can provide a compelling economic case for households as its costs fall and retail prices from fossil-fuel-dominated centralised grids continue to rise.

We are missing the boat on clean energy, BY: GILES PARKINSON  : The Australian June 15, 2012, THE International Energy Agency was created 40 years ago, soon after the first major oil crisis, to ensure that OECD countries continued to have a secure supply of energy.

In the past few years, however, it has emerged as one of the loudest and most powerful advocates of clean energy.

The more it looks at the issues of climate change and energy security, the less it likes oil, gas and coal, and the more it is attached to what its secretary-general, Maria van der Hoeven, describes as a radical and early transformation of the world’s electricity systems.

A 685-page analysis released this week by the agency contains two important conclusions: renewable energy sources can do the job, Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

CSIRO report dispels negative myths about solar power for Australia

Solar power has bright future – CSIRO, SMH, Ben Cubby, Environment Editor, June 15, 2012  THE myth that solar power is unreliable because clouds sometimes cover the sun has been dispelled by a world-first report produced by the CSIRO. While clouds or rainy weather drastically reduce the amount of electricity produced by solar panels, intelligent management of the power grid means panels and mirrors should still supply 40 per cent of
the nation’s energy in the future, the report said.
“People are worried about the reliability with little evidence, and that is limiting solar,” said Glenn Platt, a senior researcher in local energy systems at the CSIRO. “Solar intermittency is not an issue at the moment, but when it does become an issue there are solutions available to deal with it.” Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | | Leave a comment

Australia promoting nuclear power in our region

AUSTRALIA PROVIDES ADVICE ON NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY (FED) 15 June 12, Federal Parliament’s Treaties Committee will examine the extension of an international treaty aimed at improving regional cooperation for the peaceful uses of nuclear material. Australia has been a signatory to the treaty, aimed at strengthening the ability of countries in the Asia-Pacific region to safely and securely use radioactive materials for peaceful purposes.

In order to remain a party to it, Australia needs to ratify an extension to the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training relating to Nuclear Science and Technology. The principle behind the Agreement is that the signatories cooperate with each other to promote research, development and training projects in nuclear science and technology.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Cities and counties across America adopting solar energy panels to save taxpayers $milllions

Municipal Governments Harness SolarWorld Solar Panels to Power Vital Public Services,  Cities and counties embrace solar energy, save millions in utility costs,  Market Watch, HILLSBORO, Ore., Jun 14, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — City and county governments across the nation are tapping solar panels from SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years, to power vital public services. At hospitals, administrative buildings, waste-water treatment plants and jails, forward-looking municipalities have installed nearly 2.5 megawatts of the company’s high-performance, American-made solar panels since April, recognizing their ability to save taxpayers millions of dollars in energy costs and make substantial contributions to environmental quality.
In May, California’s Santa Barbara County dedicated a 1-MW solar array at its Camino Real campus, Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation not so bad – that’s the message of official disinformation

this same pattern of disinformation is being tragically repeated in the failure to depict the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe as the true monstrosity of an emergency it really is. 

Fukushima Daiichi: From Nuclear Power Plant to Nuclear Weapon Global Research, by Prof. Anthony Hall , 13 June 12,  “…….Radioactivity as a Slow But Sure Weapon of Mass Destruction……..More than any other crisis to date, the nuclear debacle at Fukushima illustrates the failure of our species, but especially those who put themselves forward as our leaders, to adapt old ways of thinking to the changes ushered in by the splitting of the atom.

The science of measuring and understanding the effects of radioactivity on biological transformations is still in its infancy. Nevertheless since 1945 the tendency has been for promoters of applied nuclear power to deny, negate, or downplay the effects of radioactivity on life’s natural patterns of renewal.

This culture of denial has its origins in the official response of US government officials to the radioactive contamination of all people, plants and animals that survived the first wave of destruction from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This unwillingness to contend with the effects of radioactivity on the public health of large population groups was captured in a headline in The New York Times on September 13, 1945. That headline proclaimed, “No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin.”  Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scrap Baillieu govt’s anti wind farm laws, says Greens candidate for Victorian by-election

Greens candidate backs renewable energy  June 14, 2012  The Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne says she wants to power the city with renewable energy. Cathy Oke is one of at least five candidates running in the by-election triggered by the resignation of Labor MP Bronwyn Pike.

It will be held on July 21. Ms Oke says she wants to treble investment in energy efficiency programs and renewable energy.
She also wants a fund to enable community groups to establish local solar farms. “We want the ability for communities, organisations, residential apartment buildings to be able to invest in solar and make money out of it but also enable us to reduce our reliance on coal,” she said.

“We want out city and our state to be powered by renewable energy.” Ms Oke also wants to scrap the Baillieu Government’s wind farm laws which she says have halted investment in wind farms. “We don’t support that and we would look at changing that,” she said.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Oxford University research shows that ionising radiation can cause cancer even at very low doses

 The results of the study contradict the idea that there are no adverse radiation effects, or might even be beneficial effects, at these very low doses and dose rates.

Natural gamma rays linked to childhood leukaemia,University of Oxford, 12 June 12,  A small but statistically significant link between risk of childhood leukaemia and the gamma rays we are all exposed to from our natural environment has been detected in a very large study led by Oxford University researchers.

Exposure to gamma rays from natural sources in the environment isn’t something that can readily be altered, but the study adds to our understanding of the small cancer risks associated with other low doses of radiation, such as from medical X-rays and CT scans. The findings demonstrate that there are small effects of radiation at very low doses. Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NSW govt excited about uranium exploration only, but oh no, not uranium mining?

Map shows the potential uranium mining area in NSW (yellow) 

Search for uranium looms closer, SMH, June 15, 2012 THE Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, has called for
a ”rational debate” about uranium while saying the decision to lift the ban on exploration in NSW was not about providing an alternative energy source for electricity generation.
In February the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, announced the state government would overturn a 26-year-old ban on uranium exploration….
Mr Hartcher told a uranium conference in Adelaide yesterday the decision ”presents an exciting opportunity for NSW” and that the government looked forward to ”a vibrant uranium exploration industry”……

When the legislation is proclaimed, companies will have 60 days to seek consent from Mr Hartcher to apply for a uranium exploration licence. Applications will be assessed by a government ”technical panel” overseen by a probity auditor and those who are successful will be invited by Mr Hartcher to apply for an exploration licence for uranium or thorium in the same manner as other minerals. The system mirrors the one in place for companies wishing to apply for coal exploration licences in NSW……
The Greens MP Jamie Parker said the NSW public did not support the government’s decision.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, politics | Leave a comment

The overuse of medical radiation, especially CT scans

Informed decision-making the best medicine

Some screening is harmful, but some can also be helpful, such as screening for colon or cervical cancer where there is evidence screening the right people at the right time can save lives.   The principle here is that even when saving a life by screening seems the intuitive and right thing to do, it’s not a deal you should ever enter into without understanding the probabilities – your chances of being helped or hurt by the test.

Have we reached a critical tipping point with healthcare?  Crikey June 14, 2012 –, by Melissa Sweet  The related issues of overtesting, overdiagnosis and overtreatment seem to have reached something of a tipping point in recent times.

It seems that almost every day, there is some new development in the field:…… another journal article (eg from JAMA: Diagnostic Imaging Studies and Associated Radiation Exposure for Patients)…….. Alan Cassels, the Canadian author of a new book, Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease, questions some of the “accepted wisdoms” around screening in the article below.

How perfectly healthy people are turned into patients  What could possibly be wrong with having a mammogram? Or a PSA test for prostate cancer? Even a full body CT scan?  Finding the signs of illness before it strikes you down is always the best course of action – isn’t it?

You might have similar thoughts when offered a routine screening test, ultimately believing that screening for illness before it happens can only do good.

So, you may be in for a shock, as I was, when I discovered how often medical screening has overpromised and under-delivered.  And how frequently the “screen early, screen often” paradigm – including even simple blood tests to check for high cholesterol – can rapidly turn perfectly healthy people into patients.

Unnecessary care can be bad for your health: Prostate and breast cancer screening

The poster child for inappropriate and harmful screening is probably the full body CT scan, which is routinely promoted with a ‘better safe than sorry’ message that is compelling, but neither supported by independent experts or good science. Continue reading

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment