Australian news, and some related international items

Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper The Australian misrepresented top scientist on climate change

News-Limited1Top physicist accuses The Australian newspaper of misrepresenting his climate change views Graham Readfearn 24 Sept 13 IN a column this week in The Australian, writer Gary Johns tried to argue that the science of human-caused climate change was “contentious”, that climate change might not be that bad and that we shouldn’t bother to cut down on emissions.

The Australian newspaper has a record for favouring climate science denialism and contrarianism above genuine expertise.

Columns and coverage like this come along in the pages of the Rupert Murdoch-owned press with such regularity that you might think [blush] that they’ve got some kind of an agenda. Honestly, you could really think that.
In the latest column – “Let’s get realistic about reducing carbon emissions” – Johns writes approvingly of a project called the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) while finding disparaging remarks about the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Johns doesn’t mention that the NIPCC is run by the fossil-fuel funded Heartland Institute in the United States, which advocates free market ideology within which businesses should be allowed to do pretty much whatever they like, such as using the atmosphere as a free waste dump.

But in one section of Johns’ column, he quotes and paraphrases Professor Richard Muller, a respected American physicist who was once sceptical of human-caused climate change. As reported in The Guardian and elsewhere, a couple of years ago Muller led a team based at the University of California which analysed more than 14 million temperature readings from 44,455 measuring sites from around the world going back to the mid 18th century.

Professor Muller found the world had warmed by 1.5C in the last 50 years and that burning fossil fuels and other human industrial processes were “almost entirely” the cause. Continue reading

September 25, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Only one Liberal Member of Parliament is clearly in favour of wind energy

Liberal-policy-1Pollie Watch: Where do Coalition MPs stand on wind farms? Crikey September 24, 2013 by     Crikey has conducted a survey of sitting Coalition MPs on the issue of wind energy. The news service has found just one pro-wind energy MP in the government’s ranks, Leichhardt’s Warren Entsch. Reporter Andrew Crook notes: “It seems like Entsch is to wind as Julie Bishop is to women among senior Coalition ranks.”

So what else did Crikey find? There are a few Coalition MPs ‘on the fence’, some who ‘show promise’, and several retired pro-wind energy Liberals:

In favour …

Warren Entsch

Entsch has gone in to bat for a wind farm proposed in his electorate. According to The Tablelander last month, he said the following on the Mt Emerald development: “The bottom line is Mt Emerald would bring a lot to this region in terms of attracting investment, stabilising escalating power prices and raising our profile as a leader in sustainable energy solutions … It is time to start dealing in facts and the fact is that wind generated power is a hugely viable, largely untapped resource in this area that would provide us with a stable, viable energy solution.”

The Tablelander noted the area has the second highest wind resource in Australia: “Our electricity prices have doubled in the past five years and this figure will only continue to rise unless we look at reliable, practical and sensible power sources like wind, water and solar. It’s not rocket science — locally generated power will stabilise costs, if not drive them down.” Mr Entsch said claims noise from wind farms caused health problems were ‘‘unsubstantiated”.

On the fence …

Greg Hunt…….

Ian Macfarlane…….

If the Abbott government fails to adopt a pro-wind energy stance, it risks being out-of-step with mainstream community views.

All of the available public polling shows that three quarters of the community support more wind farms. The clean energy source is even highly popular among Coalition voters.

Warren Entsch and Malcolm Turnbull have shown political leadership on wind energy. Friends of the Earth hopes the Abbott government follow the lead of these sitting members.



September 25, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Fukushima No 4 reactor with nuclear fuel rods high off the ground is a critical danger

Risky repair of Fukushima could spill 15,000x radiation of Hiroshima, create 85 Chernobyls, America Blog 9/23/2013  by  Does the planned November 2013 removal of the spent fuel rods stored at Fukushima’s heavily damaged Reactor 4 need a global intervention, or should TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co., a for-profit company) be allowed to go it alone?

So far, the Japanese government is allowing TEPCO to handle it. Why should you care? Read on………

Reactor No 4 today. Notice that it has no roof. The spent fuel rods (and about 200 “fully loaded” unspent rods — remember that “reactor 4 had been de-fueled” prior to the accident) are stored in a water-containing chamber high off the ground in a crumbling room and building without a roof.  Below – Fukushima nuclear reactor No. 4 todayfukushima_reactor 4 2013

How will “they” get the damaged fuel rods out of that crumbling room?

This is the problem today. There are about 1300 fuel rods stored in that room, packed together vertically in racks. Think of a pack of cigarettes standing upright with the top of the pack removed. Normally, the movement of fuel rods is done by a computer-driven machine that reaches into the room from above and removes or replaces a fuel rod by drawing it upward or lowering it downward.

The machine knows to the millimeter where each fuel rod is located. Also, the rods are undamaged — perfectly straight.

The problem is that this pack of cigarettes is crumpled, and the process must done manually. Therefore, the likelihood that some of the fuel rods will break is high. If that happens and fuel rods are exposed to the air — BOOM. What does “boom” look like?

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

Meanwhile, at the rest of the site. Continue reading

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Safer to cover Fukushima nuclear plant with concrete than to remove melted fuel

Japan Expert: Cancel plans for trying to remove Fukushima melted fuel — Cover buildings with concrete instead (VIDEO)

Title: Jaczko, Johnson & Tsutsui, The Ongoing Fukushima Daiichi Crisis
Source: Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan
Date: September 24, 2013

Tetsuro Tsutsui, Member of Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee, Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy (CCNE) Nuclear Power Plant Technical Experts’ Group:

Plans for removal of debris should be cancelled. The current METI and Tepco road map says that the removal of the [melted fuel] debris will begin 8.5 years after the accident and be completed 20 to 25 years after the accident.

We propose the following alternative: The contaminated water problem should be resolved. Spent fuel in the spent fuel pools should be removed as planned. Then we propose that the water cooling of the damaged reactor cores should be continued until the decay heat is reduced sufficiently for natural air circulation. Subsequently, the equipment and building areas [slated?] for isolation should be covered with concrete.

Gregory Jaczko: The Ongoing Fukushima Daiichi Crisis 9/24/2013

This proposed method could avoid many uncertain difficulties which would arise in the METI/Tepco plan, including: Plugging an uncertain number of cracks in the pressure and containment vessels; The need to develop missiles to break up the blocks of debris and remove the pieces of debris; The extensive radioactive dose to workers; The huge financial expenses.
Watch the FCCJ event here
See also: Bloomberg: Tepco now in talks to cover Fukushima reactors with concrete for next 75 years — Officials reviewing plan in U.S.

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Unprecedented international crisis at Fukushima requires international help

water-tanks-FukushimaJapan Professors: “Problem of such unprecedented magnitude” at Fukushima — International consequences — Fuel rods melted through reactor floors?

Thomas Snitch, Senior Professor of Science at Institute for Advanced Studies (United Nations  University, Tokyo), ), Japan Times, Sept. 23, 2013: Let the world help at Fukushima No. 1 […] It would be useful if the government of Japan would avail themselves of the assistance and technology that could be provided by foreign corporations with experience in the decommissioning of nuclear plants. […] The consequences of the continued delay in addressing the real challenges at Fukushima have international consequences. So, why not allow the international nuclear community the opportunity to help?

Colin P. A. Jones is a professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto Japan Times, Sept. 17, 2013: : […] If anything called for a nation’s government to quickly intervene actively on a massive scale and assume direct responsibility for a situation, it would be the crisis that continues to unfold 200 km from Tokyo. […] here we are 2½ years later, learning highly radioactive water has been leaking into the groundwater and the ocean and that storage tanks full of even more radioactive water are starting to fail. Surely it is a basic fact of life in nuclear power that fuel rods need to be kept cool whether sitting in a containment pool or melted through the reactor floor? The accumulation of radioactive water at the Fukushima plant was an utterly predictable problem almost from the day things first started to explode. Tepco gets a failing grade here for sure, but what about the people expecting a single company to deal with a problem of such unprecedented magnitude in the first place? […]
See also: BBC: Fukushima plant in “unprecedented crisis” and it’s getting worse, says Japan nuclear official

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA medical association rejects uranium in situ leaching


The acceptance by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that “the restoration of an ISL-mined aquifer to pre-mining water quality is … an impossibility.

 “the loss of large volumes of water in such mining operations is not in the public interest” when “considering the projected future scarcity of uncontaminated fresh water in our semi-arid region.”

SD medical association unanimously against uranium mining in Hills 24 Sept 13, 

Group hopes to work with Colorado Medical Society, bring petition to AMA By Adam Hurlburt Black Hills Pioneer

CHAMBERLAIN — The South Dakota State Medical Association has come out in opposition of uranium mining in the Black Hills in direct response to Powertech USA’s proposed in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining project in Fall River County, making it the second statewide medical association to publicly oppose uranium mining in response to a Powertech ISL uranium mining proposal in the past six years.In-Situ-Leaching

At a recent meeting held in Chamberlain, the SDSMA’s 78-member Council of Physicians unanimously voted to support a petition opposing not only Powertech’s proposed Dewey-Burdock ISL uranium mining project in the Southern Hills, but uranium mining of any type in the Black Hills Area.

“The vote was held after a careful and thoughtful discussion,” SDSMA President Dr. Daniel Heinemann said in a prepared statement Monday afternoon. “The health and safety of the public is of paramount concern to the SDSMA when considering issues such as this.” Continue reading

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At least Queensland government is now TALKING about renewable energy

sunRenewable Energy Options Discussed,31608#.UkN-kNJwonE

Energy Minister Mark McArdle is encouraging the development of new energy generating technologies that offer cost savings to electricity users.

Speaking today at the first annual OnSite Energy conference in Brisbane, Mr McArdle said an increasing number of solutions combining multiple technologies were entering the market.

“Emerging technologies have the potential, if implemented and managed correctly, to save electricity users money, address peak demand issues and defer the need to build network infrastructure,” he said.

“Positive outcomes can be achieved through the grouping of multiple technologies and the Newman Government supports these technologies where they are commercially viable.”

Mr McArdle said the three-day OnSite Energy conference would raise awareness of developing renewable energy sources. Continue reading

September 25, 2013 Posted by | energy, Queensland | Leave a comment

Call for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to focus on renewable energy

Greenpeace Report Calls for Renewed Vigor in Asean’s Renewable Energy Drive Jakarta Globe, By Ethan Harfenist  September 24, 2013. Greenpeace Southeast Asia laid out an argument on Tuesday for a concerted push for renewable energy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), focusing on both the economic and environmental benefits of a greener power policy.

“The deteriorating climate should be Asean’s top concern, given that the region is experiencing frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to climate change caused by carbon emissions,” said Amalie H. Obusan, regional climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Launched at the 31st Asean Ministers of Energy meeting in Bali, “Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable Asean Energy Outlook” emphasizes the socio-economic advantages of pursuing renewables in a roadmap detailing how the regional group could safeguard its energy security.

“The Asean region, with its rapid pace of economic and population growth should play an important role in this global solution as the E[R] report clearly shows that a low carbon development path is possible,” Obusan said.

The report said sustainable energy sources — such as wind, photovoltaics and geothermal energy — could comprise 70 percent of the region’s total electricity generation by 2050. This is due in part to a “democratization of energy production,” according to Greenpeace — access to solar panels could bring electricity to remote or deprived Southeast Asian communities currently unconnected to electricity grids.

Costs and benefits

The exploitation of green-energy sources across Asean could, the report said, result in $2.8 trillion worth of investment, $2.7 trillion in fuel-cost savings and 1.1 million jobs by 2030…….

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Media trolls and spambots can powerfully deny science

astroturf-bot(Ed Note: “trolls” – comments, put out in large numbers by  a political lobby – can be by people paid to send them “Spambots” are computer generated messages – can be put out in thousands to swamp articles with supposedly genuine opinion comments by individual people)


Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story.

A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again.

Why We’re Shutting Off Our Comments

Starting today, will no longer accept comments on new articles. Here’s why.


09.24.2013 Comments can be bad for science. That’s why, here at, we’re shutting them off.

It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former,diminishing our ability to do the latter.

That is not to suggest that we are the only website in the world that attracts vexing commenters.Far from it. Nor is it to suggest that all, or even close to all, of our commenters are shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla. We have many delightful, thought-provoking commenters.

But even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story, recent research suggests. Continue reading

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment