Australian news, and some related international items

Christina’s election comfort – Tony Abbott is a Tall Poppy – TEMPORARILY

a-cat-CANYes. It’s a sad week for democracy in Australia’s MURDOCHRACY.

My one comfort.

Murdoch media,   America’s Tea Party, and multinational fossil fuel corporations,  have groomed the seemingly vacuous Tony Abbott into an Australian Tall Poppy.      My comfort is –   we all know what Australia does to Tall Poppies –   cuts ’em down.  And this couldn’t happen to  a better fellow.

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Christina reviews | 1 Comment

Tony Abbott still a climate change denialist at heart

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmlogo-election-Aust-13the suspicion that the sceptic still lurks within grew stronger with an interview with Michelle Grattan forThe Conversation. People were less anxious about climate change for three reasons, Abbott said:

“First I think they’re more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one way street that it might have seemed four or five years [ago].”

This election has heard no end of debate about Australia’s budget deficit but little about the environmental deficit that we are accumulating and that will take much longer to pay off.


How much will climate inaction cost us? The Drum By Mike Steketee  5 Sep 2013, This election has heard no end of debate about Australia’s budget deficit; meanwhile, an environmental disaster looms that will cause us much more financial pain, writes Mike Steketee.

Victoria and other parts of eastern Australia, including Sydney, have just recorded their warmest winter on record. Was that evidence of climate change, Barrie Cassidy asked Tony Abbott on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday. “It is evidence of the variability in our weather,” replied the person on the brink of becoming prime minister.

It was an answer at the same time unexceptional and revealing. Of course, Abbott is correct. Weather records are being broken all the time. For centuries Australia has been a land of drought and flooding rains.

But Abbott also could have given a different answer, along the lines that, whether or not specific record-breaking events were the result of human impact on the climate, they were occurring more frequently, particularly those associated with high temperatures, and that this was in line with the predictions of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists.

Here’s another record: for the whole of Australia, temperatures for the 12 months to the end of last month were the highest since reliable records were first kept 103 years ago. Continue reading

September 6, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

Senator Scott Ludlam shows Greens proposal for Collie as renewable energy zone

Ludlam,-Scott-1logo-election-Aust-13Greens propose Collie as renewable energy zone Sept. 4, 2013,By By Mackenzie Dixon  Sept. 4, 2013 GREENS Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam was in Collie Monday to give a presentation on the Greens proposal to turn Collie into a renewable energy zone….. Mr Ludlam was joined by representatives from research organisation Sustainable Energy Now to outline the Greens Energy 2029 plan, which looks to making WA a 100 per cent renewable energy state.

“I do hope this brings a conversation about a transition to a form of economic development that’s not premised on depleting non-renewable resources” said Sen. Ludlam during his presentation.

“We’ve struggled in past decades with four key problems to getting renewable energy up and running – the cost associated, the risk of investment, network access and the fact that it’s not always on when you need it.

“But those things are becoming less problematic, the cost is lowering, there’s specific entities who invest in renewable energy, priorities are changing when it comes to allowing access to the network and we are making leaps and bounds when it comes to energy being there when you need it.

“The number of jobs that would be created in Collie depends on the mix of renewable energies that end up being deployed. “For example, if 800 megawatts of biomass capacity is installed in Collie this would ensure around 1200 ongoing jobs in operations and maintenance in Collie, as well as many thousands more jobs during the construction phase.

“We also recognise that Collie has good sun and wind energy resources, and if deployed in Collie under one of the scenarios we propose, these other forms of energy generation would each create hundreds more local, highly skilled jobs.”

September 6, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

Fukushima farce highlights the dis economics of nuclear power

burning-moneyThe answer from the nuclear industry to all these criticisms is always the same: it will be different next time. But the rolling farce in Fukushima proves yet again the opposite. The only reliability the industry can offer is consistently breaking promises and busting budgets.

As the false nuclear dawn fades, a new brighter horizon may be revealed, where the intrinsically safe and therefore ultimately cheaper technologies of energy efficiency and renewable energy can used to build a power system fit for the 21st century, not one harking back to the 20th.

Fukushima farce reveals nuclear industry’s fatal flaw Sept 13, 
Keeping the lid on costs when the task is to keep the lid on a slow motion atomic explosion is an impossible challenge Once upon a time, when the nuclear industry was shiny and new, it simply burned uranium. Now, old and tarnished, it burns money. From the promise of nuclear electricity being too cheap to meter, we now have costs that are too great to count.

At the site of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, the government is being forced to spend over £200m on a fanciful-sounding underground ice wallin the latest desperate attempt to halt the radiation-contaminated waterthat is leaking into the sea.

When mere stopgaps cost this much, it is clear any real solution will cost the earth. Japanese taxpayers have already had to bail out the operator Tepco to the tune of £6.5bn. The final clean up will cost tens of billions and take 40 years.

Yet supporters maintain that nuclear power offers affordable low-carbon electricity and is a vital tool in the fight to curb climate change. The UK government, already spending most of its energy budget on nuclear clean up, has crashed through deadline after deadline in a fruitless search to find anybody willing to build new nuclear power stations at reasonable cost.

The only serious players left in the game are those backed by the French, Chinese and Russian states, whose interest in power is as much political as electrical. Commercial companies have fled the scene. Continue reading

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s South West could prosper as renewable energy hub- Greens candidate

map-WA-solarlogo-election-Aust-13The South West could be a flagship region for renewable energy ABC South West WA By Sharon Kennedy and David Bone, 5 September, 2013 Greens candidate Gordon Taylor is passionate about achieving 100 per cent renewable energy generation “…… he is passionate about renewable energy. “There is potential for this area of the South West to be a flagship zone,” he says.

The Greens are not single issue, he adds, with over 150 fully costed policies covering such issues as housing, dental care and asylum seekers……


On the question of one of the region’s traditional industries, timber, he again sees the need for plantations and other renewables. “I think in the long term, because of the gradual decline of our forests, there has to be a point where we move in other directions – we create employment in other ways – hopefully through renewable energies.” A Greens presence in the Senate will help to keep a balance, says Mr Taylor. Voters have the option of voting for a major party in the Lower House but casting 1 for Scott Ludlum in the Senate to “keep that green edge in the parliament which is so needed now”……

September 6, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | 1 Comment

But what if Fukushima’s protective ice wall melts?

Nuke Fatigue & the 2020 Tokyo Olympics EE Times, Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, 6 Sept 13,  “…………So far, I’ve heard no skeptics in Japan questioning the science and long-term viability of the technology behind the proposed ice wall — especially on NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster.

To hear the argument against it, I had to turn to Tuesday’s edition of the PBS Newshour, whose link my former colleague and science writer George Leopold sent via e-mail.

‘Risky experiment’
In the program, Arjun Makhijani, an engineer specializing in nuclear fusion and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, called the proposed ice wall scheme “a risky experiment.”

Looking at Risks if the Fukushima Ice Wall Defrosts


Makhijani explained that the Japanese “hope to freeze the soil, basically, with a giant freezing machine, just like your freezer at home, [to] put cooling coils in the soil, lots and lots of them.” He pointed out that this scheme “takes an enormous amount of electricity.” That is just what the Fujushima nuclear plant can’t do.

The biggest worry is potential power failures. Makhijani said:

if the power fails, you know, just like if your — when the power goes out with your refrigerator, everything will de-freeze in — defrost in the freezer.  Even though ice wall technology had been used frequently to stabilize the ground in big construction projects, like the Big Dig highway project in Boston, The New York Times pointed out that some critics are dubious.

They argue that it’s a costly technology “that would be vulnerable at the blackout-prone plant because it relies on electricity the way a freezer does, and even more so because it has never been tried on the vast scale that Japan is envisioning and was always considered a temporary measure, while at Fukushima it would have to endure possibly for decades.”


September 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Liberal Coalition makes big cuts to its already inadequate climate action plan

Liberal-policy-1logo-election-Aust-13Coalition climate policies take $320m hit September 6, 2013    Environment editor, The Age The Coalition has cut $320 million from its direct action climate policy, halving rooftop rebates for households and cutting spending on geothermal and tidal power.The changes came amid a sweep of cuts to clean energy and climate change programs in the Coalition’s costings released by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey on Thursday.

While the central element of the direct action policy has remained intact – a $2.55 billion fund to emissions cuts from industry and farmers – the Coalition has trimmed funding in some of the additional programs contained under the policy. That includes halving the rebate to households under a program to install one million more rooftop solar panel systems over 10 years. Initially households were to be offered $1000 rebates for either solar panels or solar hot water systems – with rebates capped at 100,000 a year.

But Coalition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt confirmed the rebate on offer would now be $500. That means spending on the solar scheme will be $50 million a year, rather than $100 million. Mr Hunt said the reduction was the result of dramatic decreases in the cost of solar systems in recent years. He said priority would now be given to solar hot water and low income households.

In other changes:

  • The Coalition has also scrapped $50 million over four years in planned funding to support the development of geothermal and tidal power.
  • $60 million in spending on clean energy employment hubs has been scrapped, with Mr Hunt instead saying it had been replaced with $9 million in funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility at Griffith University.
  • $100 million for a solar towns and schools program will be stretched over six years, rather than four.

With other changes all up direct action will now cost $2.88 billion over the first four years, rather than the originally budgeted $3.2 billion. The costings confirm the Coalition’s long-stated plans to axe the carbon price, which will end up costing it $6 billion to do so as a result of foregone revenue.

Amid the savings it claims is $1.46 billion from abolishing “other carbon tax measure no longer needed.” That is understood to include a cut to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and savings for closing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. But the Coalition is yet to detail the exact cuts. Other savings include suspending a program to connect renewables to the electricity grid, saving $185 million. The national low emissions coal initiative will have $42 million in funding reduced, while the national CO2 infrastructure plan will be suspendend, saving $13 million.

It will also “redirect” $349 million in spending on the carbon capture and storage flagships.

September 6, 2013 Posted by | election 2013 | Leave a comment

Distressed uranium company pins its hopes on nuclear power revival in Japan

Uranium Energy Cuts Output as Nuclear Fuel Prices Lie Low Bloomberg, By Gerrit De Vynck – Sep 5, 2013 Uranium Energy Corp which mines and processes the nuclear fuel in Texas, is cutting production as prices trade at a seven-year low…..Uranium spot prices have fallen 22 percent this year amid delays in the restart of nuclear plants in Japan following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Last month, Cameco Corp. (CCO), the world’s third-largest uranium producer, dropped its projected sales volume from its German trading unit Nukem Energy GmbH to 8 million to 10 million from 9 million to 11 million pounds.


“This uranium price is tied to what’s going on in Japan,” said David Talbot, an analyst for Dundee Securities Corp. in Toronto. Once Japanese regulators approve more plant restarts, it will signal to the world to begin buying uranium again and the price will rebound, he said…..

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s desperate bid to reassure Olympics committee on safety of Tokyo despite Fukushima radiation

Syrian IOC member submits surprising late nomination to stand against John Coates  BY:JACQUELIN MAGNAY  The Australian  September 06, 2013  “……… the extraordinary nomination of the Syrian IOC member comes as a jittery IOC membership faces a difficult decision on which of three bidding cities should be elected to host the 2020 Olympics. The vote takes place Sunday morning, Sydney time.

Japan-Olympics-fearMadrid, with its well-documented economic woes, is emerging as the bid with momentum after Tokyo was forced to deny troubles with the Fukushima radiation levels……

..Last night the Tokyo bid team resorted to flying to Buenos Aires the Japanese Prime Minister to personally address IOC members and reassure them about radiation levels in the country.

IOC member and bid president Tsunekazu Takeda said radiation levels in Tokyo were “the same as New York, London and Paris”.

IOC president Jacques Rogge, in his last solo press conference before his successor is elected next week, said the Games were not organised in a vacuum and it was legitimate for IOC members to consider what a city would be like in seven years’ time in making their decisions. “Other (non-sports) aspects have to be taken into account,” Rogge said……….

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment