Australian news, and some related international items

Paladin Energy slashing costs in “unsustainable” uranium industry

burial.uranium-industryPaladin Energy uranium mine sale expected in coming weeks, Mining Australia 15 January, 2014 Vicky Validakis Paladin Energy said talks around the sale of its Langer Heinrich uranium mine were progressing as the price for uranium continues to deteriorate.

The Perth-based miner flagged its intentions to sell its stake in the African mine in August when it announced a raft of cost-cutting measures to combat the weakening price of uranium.………While Borshoff the project was a long-term play for the miner, he said the stubbornly low uranium price meant all new developments had been put on the backburner.

“It’s unsustainable at the moment,” Borshoff said.

“Everyone has declared a moratorium on new projects. It’s all hanging by a thread and at some point this year it has got to turn.” Last year the company made a $US173 million loss in the three months to June.

Paladin signalled it would slash corporate and exploration costs by $US10.8 million, a 24 per cent reduction……..Paladin has five uranium exploration projects operating in Australia.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Ian Dunlop on the reality of climate change

climate-AustNo mandate for ignoring climate realities January 14, 2014 Tom Switzer’s article demonstrates why conventional politics, whether right or left, has rendered itself irrelevant to solving   the major issues which confront us (“Game finally up for the carboncrats“, January 14).

Climate change presents our greatest challenge and is driving a wide range of other changes which are already steamrolling the 20th century political thinking which Switzer and his ilk represent.

Looking objectively worldwide, from excessive heat here, to excessive cold in the northern US, disappearing sea ice in the Artic, these changes are moving far faster than previously predicted. As Voltaire put it: “Men Argue, Nature Acts.”

Contrary to Switzer’s view, Europe is not in a “coal frenzy”. It, China, and Germany are rapidly moving down a low-carbon path. If we had any sense we would be doing the same, for that is where our real competitive advantage, so beloved of political rhetoric, really lies.

Instead, both major parties, by refusing to act on the climate realities which are now so blindingly obvious, are dedicated to rendering Australia a 20th century basket case in a 21st century world. There is no mandate for this.

Ian Dunlop is a former oil, gas and coal executive who has recently attempted to gain a seat on the BHP board on a climate change platform.


January 15, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Japan delays energy, nuclear plans with public opposed to nuclear

flag-japanAs Nuclear Concerns Rise, Japan Delays Energy Plan WSJ, By MARI IWATAThe Japanese government has delayed a planned announcement on the country’s long-term energy strategy amid signs of rising public concern about a return to nuclear power.

“We are hoping to proceed as soon as possible, but we have received about 19,000 public comments,” said industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday in a regular post-Cabinet meeting press conference. “We shouldn’t decide on it too hastily,” he said.

The draft of the new energy plan, disclosed in early December, calls nuclear power a way to “stabilize Japan’s energy supply-demand structure.” The pro-nuclear stance overturns a plan by the previous government to phase out nuclear power, a decision taken after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The plan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration was due to be announced in mid-January.

“We also have to think more about nuclear waste,” Mr. Motegi said, touching on one of the concerns among anti-nuclear activists over what Japan will do with itsgrowing stockpile of spent nuclear fuel. He also said the strategy will not discuss the issue of whether Japan should build any new nuclear plants.

Despite the continued popularity of the pro-nuclear Mr. Abe, polls show a majority of the nation remains against the use of nuclear power. In a poll conducted Jan. 4-5 by major broadcaster Fuji television, 52% of 1,000 respondents said they support Mr. Abe’s cabinet, but 60% of them said they oppose restarting any of Japan’s 50 currently idled nuclear reactors……

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bernie Fraser warns about axing of Climate Change Authority

Fraser,-Bernie‘Environment will suffer’ if CCA axed CHERYL JONES THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 15, 2014BUSINESS interests could “overwhelm” environmental concerns should the Climate Change Authority be axed without replacing it with an alternative body to provide “independent and balanced” advice, according to chairman Bernie Fraser.

The former Reserve Bank governor said it would be a pity for any government to “eschew expert, independent advice, particularly on a subject so important and so complex as climate change”…(subscribers only)

January 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

At a glacial pace, the world moves away from nuclear weapons

The long slog toward a nuclear-free world  By , January 13  EFFORTS BY Iran and North Korea to acquire nuclear weapons have been at the forefront of diplomacy and international concern over the past few years, and justifiably so. Neither country has been convincingly stopped, although Iran is negotiating. Elsewhere, though, there has been progress toward preventing nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands. Continue reading

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scotland’s renewable energy sector employs many thousands

Renewables Sector Employs 11,695 People In Scotland ,Renewable Energy News, 15 Jan 14, A survey commissioned by Scottish Renewables has found Full Time Employment (FTE) among participating companies has reached 11,695.

The result is an increase of 5% over last year’s study and is a higher employment growth rate when compared to the Scottish economy as a whole.

The sector with the most workers by far is wind energy; with 3,397 persons employed on a full time equivalent basis in the onshore wind sector and 1,842 in offshore wind activities.

Solar has a long way to go to catch up, with just 353 persons.

The good renewable news in Scotland seems as though it will continue. 54% of firms stated they envision increasing their staffing levels during the next 12 months and just 1.6% felt their employment levels would decrease.

The majority of employment is in Scotland’s Central Belt – the area of highest population density within the country…….

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Christopher Pyne’s confusing attitudes to Australia’s indigenous history

By conservative estimates 20,000 Indigenous Australians were killed by British troops, colonial militias, police and vigilante settlers as the colonial frontier expanded across the continent. At least 2,000 new Australians also died in such battles, often in ugly reprisal attacks.

Where exactly does Christopher Pyne stand on teaching Indigenous history? The minister says students should learn about Aboriginal history, but adds that the current curriculum has not sold the ‘benefits of western civilisations’. Tell that to Indigenous Australians    Guardian, 14 Jan 14 Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if education minister Christopher Pyne is genuinely torn about Australia’s bleak and violent colonial history, trying to be politically pragmatic or just confused.

Last week when he announced a supposedly independent review of the national curriculum by experts clearly hostile towards the status quo, it was framed in terms of competing aspects of Australia’s past – Indigenous history and “western civilisation”. Continue reading

January 15, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Reducing carbon emissions by Zero Carbon building

Beyond Zero Emissions has estimated that implementing its Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan could reduce Australia’s emissions by more than 15 per cent, or 90 megatons of CO2-equivalent.

Casting away carbon, street by street   14 Jan, Climate Spectator, Australia’s homes are among the largest and most inefficient in the developed world. Then we wonder why our household energy bills and carbon emissions are so high.

There are, also, few ways we get feedback regarding our household energy consumption meaning we are mostly ‘driving blind’ when it comes to energy use and emissions from our homes – we get a bill at the end of the month or end of the quarter, far past the time the energy was actually consumed. The lack of instantaneous feedback makes it difficult to correlate our energy consumption to a particular event.

An inefficient home is also uncomfortable, it is draughty, damp, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Live in North America or Europe and you will know what an energy efficient and low emissions home is like, and the opportunities that exist for energy efficient homes in Australia.

Our homes are a ripe area for direct action, with real benefits for the climate, our comfort levels and for our hip pockets. Continue reading

January 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, efficiency | Leave a comment

Geo-engineering for climate action – not popularidea

Climate engineering faces PR problem Anna Salleh  ABC 14 Jan 14 The general public have an overall negative image of climate engineering, which includes proposals to use mirrors in space to reduce global warming, a new study has found.

Although some were viewed more positively than others, the study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests the public is nervous and unsure about implementing them.

Climate engineering uses technologies to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth or directly remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Some of the more ambitious proposals are to reflect sunlight using orbiting mirrors in space, or inject tiny particles known as aerosols into the stratosphere.

Climate engineering also includes carbon dioxide removal technologies such as biochar, a very stable form of charcoal that could be locked away in farmlands.

“It’s quite an extraordinary idea,” says lead author, Professor Malcolm Wright, from Massey University‘s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing.


In an online survey, Wright and colleagues asked more than 2000 Australians and New Zealanders what they thought about different climate engineering technologies……

Unknown effects

Survey respondents had to associate positive and negative attributes to each of the technologies.

Wright says the associations were overwhelmingly negative, with people concerned primarily with “unknown effects” of climate engineering.

“Around two thirds of associations were negative,” says Wright.

“There was an incredibly striking pattern. While the reaction was negative overall for all techniques, it was much more positive for carbon dioxide removal than it was for solar radiation management.”…….

January 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Skin cancer danger even for office workers

Give your skin a break, In My Community 14/Jan/2014 OFFICE workers are risking damage to their skin by not protecting themselves from UV radiation during outdoor lunch breaks, a WA Cancer Council spokesman says.

SunSmart manager Mark Strickland said people might think only half an hour of sun while having lunch would not harm them, especially on cooler days, but in reality the risk of sunburn was extreme.

“If people are outside at lunch time, they’re outside at the highest strength of UV radiation,” Mr Strickland said.

“At this time of year the UV radiation in Perth will be 13 to 14 at lunch time.

“Under those circumstances even 15 minutes is enough to do damage to our skin.”

Mr Strickland said people should be more concerned about the real risk of skin cancer that came with overexposure to UV radiation than the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

“For the vast majority of the population who dress in the mainstream way and move between buildings during the day, those people will be getting enough incidental sunshine to meet their vitamin D requirements… even if they’re being sun smart,” he said.

Mr Strickland said seeking shade as well as wearing a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing were the best options to be sun smart because some people found it too much of a bother to put on sunscreen for their lunch breaks.

“If you’ve got bare skin then that means sun screen is the next option but it isn’t a perfect choice because no sunscreen blocks 100 per cent of UV radiation and often we don’t put it on properly.”

January 15, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment