Australian news, and some related international items

Costs falling, capacity surging – in renewable energy

logo-IRENARenewable Energy Revolution: Declining Costs, Surging Capacity Clean Technica January 24, 2013 The renewable energy revolution is under way. Renewable power generation now accounts for around 50% of all new power generation capacity installed worldwide.

The combination of rapid deployment and high learning rates for technology “has produced a virtuous circle that is leading to significant cost declines and is helping fuel a renewable revolution,” according to a new global study of renewable power generation costs in 2012 produced by IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, which announced it is establishing its global headquarters in the United Arab Emirates during last week’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Additions to global wind power generation capacity totalled 41 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, according to IRENA’s “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012: An Overview.” That’s in addition to 30 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation capacity, 25 GW of hydro power, 6 GW of biomass, 0.5 GW of concentrated solar power (CSP), and 0.1 GW of new geothermal power capacity.

“Renewable technologies are now the most economic solution for new capacity in an increasing number of countries and regions,” IRENA concluded upon analyzing the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) among the some 8,000 renewable power projects in its database and related literature……..

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mining enthusiast new candidate for Katter’s Australia Party

Katter candidate throws hat in ring: mining, Aborigines on Australia Party agenda Central Western Daily 25 Jan 13 BRIAN Cain was officially endorsed as the Calare candidate for Katter’s Australia Party on Wednesday, with  Aboriginal equality and improving the image of mining high on his agenda…… Mr Cain spoke about how the Greens had tarnished the image of the mining industry and he wanted to give the industry a public relations facelift in the eyes of Calare constituents….. Mr Cain worked in the mining industry for 40 years. ….. Mr Cain wants Aboriginal people to have more involvement, particularly in mining.

He said 98 per cent of people employed by the mining industry in Australia’s north were Aboriginal, yet only 2 per cent of people employed in the south were Aboriginal…..

January 24, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia a major contributor of greenhouse gases, with coal exports

globe-warmingAustralia, Coal And The Point Of No Return 25 Jan 13, A new report states if planned expansion of coal exports from Australia proceeds, the nation will be one of the biggest global contributors to catastrophic climate change.

     We’ve mentioned in the past Australia being a Typhoid Mary of coal and late last year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted Australia will soon be the world’s biggest coal exporter again.

The Greenpeace report, ‘The Point of No Return’, says Australia is the second biggest offender in a list of 14 mega coal projects in the pipeline that will help it regain its filthy crown. In re-assuming the throne; a massive price will be paid by all.

“In 2020, the emissions from the 14 projects showcased in this report – if they were all to go ahead – would raise global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 20% and keep the world on a path towards 5°C to 6°C of warming.”

By 2025, Australian coal exports could increase to 408 million tonnes a year above 2011 levels, pushing associated carbon emissions up by 1,200 million tonnes annually once the coal is burned.

“By then, the CO2 emissions caused by Australian coal exports would be three times as large as the emissions from Australia’s entire domestic energy use,” says the report.

To avoid the point of no return, the report references the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2011; which states building of new fossil fuel infrastructure needs to stop within five years. Greenpeace says given this, it is “placing the planned dirty energy projects in direct conflict with a liveable climate.”

It doesn’t have to be this way says the group.

“If the governments supporting the projects in this report help push the world past the point of no return, the great irony will be that the resulting climate chaos was preventable.”

Greenpeace says clean and safe renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency, can bring us back from the brink. Far from being pie-in-the-sky; the progress made just in the last decade is testimony to what could be achieved with a focus on renewables as the centrepiece of the world’s energy future.  The 60-page Point Of No Return report can be viewed in full here (PDF).

January 24, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

A UK soldier recalls radiation exposure in Christmas Island nuclear bomb tests

Atomic-Bomb-LThe with holding of evidence -Dave Whyte.      <  I doubt if we will ever be permitted to have a cytogenetic blood analysis carried out as the Authorities know what the results would be. Everything they do has a delaying action in the hope we will all be dead before they are forced to admit the truth. What irks me, is the fact all Servicemen were loyal to Queen and Country but loyalty has not been reciprocated by our respective Government’s.

It was the Ministry of Defence that kept informing me I should put in for a War Pension if I considered my medical problems were caused by nuclear testing. When I did apply they acknowledged my stomach problems were caused due to service and awarded me a 0% pension: They also admitted the Lymphadenopathy and again awarded a 0% pension; For my claim of infertility and other ailments I was informed I did not receive sufficient radiation to cause my ailments.

I have now added Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) citing the stress involved in attempting to obtain information on the levels of radiation received including the fact that It took the Ministry of Defence over five years to supply me with information on the levels of radiation at ground zero after Pennant and Burgee after denying it existed. They are still refusing to divulge the levels of ‘Beta’ radiation at ground zero after detonation of the bombs, or the radiation levels at our living quarters in the forward area.

There were around 200 of us living at ‘B’ site (I have attached a map) which was situated 3 miles from the atomic bomb ground zero and 6 miles from the point of detonation of the hydrogen bombs Flagpole and Halliard. I saw members of the AWRE regularly checking the area for radiation (they were wearing protective clothing at the early stages). My attempts have failed to get a copy of the logs showing the levels of radiation. I should add, we were never given protective clothing or respirators we went around in shorts and flip-flops.

I believe this was the forerunner to Operation Lighthouse which was cancelled due to the moratorium. The tests were held in quick succession as proposed for Lighthouse: Pennant atomic bomb 22 August, Flagpole hydrogen bomb 2 September, Halliard hydrogen bomb 11 September and Burgee atomic bomb 23 September 1958. I have proof that the forward area was radioactive for nine days after Pennant and six days after Burgee. The authorities are denying there was any radiation in the forward area after the two hydrogen bombs!

I have attached a photograph showing the condition of our living quarters after Pennant.


It is only now I realise there must have been radioactive particles blown into our bedding and other belongings which we could have inhaled or ingested whilst sleeping.

I hope some of this may be of interest.

January 24, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As radiation levels rise, USA government raises the levels of radiation considered “safe”

text ionisingIn the wake of the continuing nuclear tragedy in Japan, the United States government is still moving quickly to increase the amounts of radiation the population can “safely” absorb by raising the safe zone for exposure to levels designed to protect the government and nuclear industry more than human life.”

Flag-USAThe Radiation Warnings You Won’t Get from the Mainstream Propaganda Machine  January 22, 2013, The mainstream media and the federal government will soon have the blood of the world on it’s hands.

Radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster in Japan is now actively in the ecosystem all along the North American west coast… even the sea weed is now radiated.  The Vancouver Sun reported one year ago that the seaweed tested from waters off the coast of British Columbia were 4 times the amount considered safe.  No further test results were released after the initial report.

The governments of the United States and Canada are not conducting tests for radioactivity – at least not to the knowledge of the public.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to continue purchasing seafood from Japan, despite the fact that the food is not being tested for radioactive contamination.  Last November, independent testing in Japan showed 65 per cent of the catches tested positive for cesium (a radioactive material).  Instead of refusing to purchase the poisoned fish, food safety agencies in both the United States and Canada have simply raised the “acceptable level of radiation.”  We can’t go offending the Japanese after promising to buy their tainted goods, now can we?

After the North American governments refused to fund testing, oceanographer Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the non-profit Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass, along with Nicholas Fisher, a marine sciences professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and other concerned scientists, managed to secure private funding for a Pacific research voyage.  The results? Continue reading

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why should Aborigines be expected to celebrate Australia Day?

A national day of shame January 24, 2013  The Age, Peter Gebhardt Australia Day stands as a reminder of massacres. Why should Aborigines celebrate it? “….What might an Aboriginal person say of Australia Day? Why should the Aborigines celebrate that day? It was the day that marked the theft of a land (terra nullius), the day that marked the theft and abduction of a people, of a culture, the day that initiated the pathways to the Stolen Children and, to our ultimate shame, the deaths in custody. It is a day that stands as a reminder of massacres. The wind-stench of bodies burned in bonfires hangs heavy upon the nation’s conscience and in the clouds.

This is not some John Howard ”black armband” view of history, rather a white man’s whitewash. You can shuttle history, but you cannot shuttle facts. It would be a great Australia Day if it faced honesty, historical facts, abandonment, hypocrisy, shelved superiority and embarked upon an exercise of spiritual empathy rather than religious hubris.

Let’s meditate upon this quotation from an editorial in The Argus newspaper on March 17, 1856. I wonder what Howard and Keith Windschuttle would make of this?

 ”We never listened to a discussion in the Legislative Council which more strongly stirred within us the sentiments of a bitter indignation, than that which took place upon the sum placed on the estimates for the Aborigines. We have long held the opinion that as a people we are guilty of the basest meanness and dishonesty in our treatment of this unhappy race. And that impression was most vividly freshened by the scene we refer to – by the contemptible sum which the present occupants of this colony award to its original possessors [and] by the indecent levity by which the whole discussion on the subject was characterised. These poor wretches have evidently few enough friends. It is only fair to devote an hour to the pleading of their cause.

”It would seem that never does the white man … appear in a more thoroughly despicable light, than in his dealings with his less civilised brother. He takes possession of the land as a matter of course. He alters water-courses, drives off game, fences, clears, and cultivates, tears open the very bowels of the earth, and walks away with uncounted wealth, while the original occupant of the soil, not only looks helplessly on, but sinks, contaminated by the new vices, and wasted by imported diseases, into premature extermination. And we – a Christian people – God-fearing, magnanimous, intelligent race – with a history to look back to, and a character to support – stand quietly by, and do not feel the disgracefulness and sin of such a position!…… ”We assert that under present circumstances this country has been shamelessly stolen from the blacks….  We, the people of this colony, occupy in this instance, the position of cheats and swindlers, and we do not deserve that the land should prosper with us, which has been so dishonestly come by.”

In the light of the news about Australia’s seat at the United Nations, it is sanguine to recollect what John Pilger said in his article ”Fighting for justice when your skin’s black” in The Age on October 4, 2012: ”No country since apartheid South Africa has been more condemned by the UN for its racism than Australia.”

January 24, 2013 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Who is responsible for global inaction on climate change?

world-grandchildrenHowever, neither governments nor vested interests would have been able to continue on the track leading toward a climate calamity had it not been for the majority who, aware of the risks, pay only lip service to the issue. Ultimately it is the collective foresight or lack of such, by our species which it will decide its future

Humanity’s scorched Earth program – where to now? The Conversation, Andrew Glikson,  24 Jan 13The intensity and frequency of bush fires and firestorms around the globe, including recently in Australia, is a growing worry. Under conditions where mean land temperatures have increasedby ~1.5 degrees Celsius since 1750, the effects of fires under higher temperatures projected by the IPCC for later this century defy contemplation.

While there is scepticism from those who do not accept the scientific method nor empirical evidence, the laws of physics tell us atmospheric temperatures are largely regulated by greenhouse gases (GHG). The same applies to the connection between rising temperature and the spate of extreme weather events around the world. This includes increased climate variability, heat waves, fires, cold fronts, intensification of the hydrological cycle and consequent rise in floods and hurricanes experienced in Australia over the last few years andat present.

The failure to negotiate agreements for mitigation of GHG, through Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and Doha now poses an existential risk around the world and in Australia. Continue reading

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dwindling Arctic sea ice may trigger rapid climate changes

arctic-sea-ice-record-minimLoss of Arctic Sea Ice Speeds Domino Effect of Warming Temperatures at High Latitudes
Melting Arctic sea ice is no longer just evidence of a rapidly warming planet — it’s also part of the problem.

Alan Werner, professor of geology at Mount Holyoke College, said that decreasing amounts of Arctic snow and ice in summer will lead to a greater degree of heat absorption at the North Pole.
The reason, Werner said, is because the loss of snow and ice makes Earth’s surface less reflective, meaning solar radiation. or heat — is absorbed in greater amounts by the exposed dark ocean or tundra.

“That’s the thing that’s happening very abruptly, or at least in geologic time scales, very quickly,” Werner said. “That the high latitudes are warming at a much faster rate than the other latitudes.”

Werner’s observation follows the announcement in September by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the surface area of Arctic sea ice had reached a new low in 2012, breaking a previous record reached in 2007.

What the new data suggests, Werner said, is that the Arctic Ocean will likely be free of sea ice during summer in the next few decades, which may trigger significant changes in climate across the globe.

“One thing about humans living on the planet is that we don’t do well with change,” Werner said. “The changes that we’re talking about are changes that are going to be difficult for humans to adapt to.”

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another reminder about ultra violet radiation and skin cancer

UV-radiationSunscreen, skin cancer and the Australian summer, The Conversation, 23 Jan 13,  With the long, hot Australian summer comes the imperative to manage the country’s enormous skin cancer risk.Along with the growing raw numbers (11,545 skin cancer cases diagnosed in 2009) and rates of melanoma, the numbers of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) are going off the charts. Men are disproportionately affected, with one in 14 blokes diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 85, compared with one in 23 women.

Two months ago the Medical Journal of Australia reported the total number of NMSC treatments increased from 412,493 in 1997 to 767,347 in 2010, and the authors estimated the number of treatments would increase to 938,991 by 2015.

The costs estimate – which I understand doesn’t include the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses – was over half a billion dollars in 2010. This is an enormous health burden unique to Australia and our friends across the Tasman…..

The Nambour study conducted in South East Queensland in the early 1990s found the use of sunscreen (then the old SPF15+) reduced the risk of squamous cell carcinomas (the second most common non-melanoma skin cancer) by 12% andmelanoma by about half.

So, as we get closer to seeing SPF50+ sunscreen land on the shelves of our local shops remember the famous all-encompassing 1998 life advice speech of disputed origins“Wear sunscreen” – and heed the advice. It’s still a good tip.

Here are a few other simple sunscreen tips:

  1. Sunscreen shouldn’t be used as the first and last defence against the sun. Don’t forget the other “S”s – Slip on a Shirt, Slap on a Hat, Seek some shade and Slide on your sunnies…..

January 24, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, health | Leave a comment

Where to now – in action on climate change?

climate-changeHumanity’s scorched Earth program – where to now? The Conversation, Andrew Glikson,  24 Jan 13,”……….Where to now?Some scientists despair. Professor Guy McPherson writes “It seems no matter how dire the situation becomes, it only gets worse when I check the latest reports”. Others accept Pablo Casals‘ dictum “The situation is hopeless. We must take the next step”.

In themselves, efforts at reducing atmospheric CO2-emission are no longer sufficient to prevent further global warming. Along with sharply reducing carbon emissions, we need to undertake efforts to reduce atmospheric CO2 from the current level of near-400 ppm to well below 350 ppm. A wide range of technologies – many known as “geo-engineering” – have been proposed to do this job.

The concept of “geo-engineering” rings alarm bells for some, but it has been confused. Most people understand this concept in terms of solar injection of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere. This is a Band-Aid at best; at worst it is a harmful measure causing further ocean acidification and the retardation of precipitation and of the monsoon.

By contrast, CO2 draw-down is a far-better option. It would attempt to reverse the deleterious consequences of the over 560 billion tons of carbon released from combustion and land clearing. Other measures such as NASA-applied outer space shade technology may buy time for such planetary defence effort.

The alternative does not bear contemplation.

January 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment