Australian news, and some related international items

Australia – America’s Deputy Sheriff again, as USA opposes nuclear-weapons-ban talks

UN nuclear treaty: Australia plays deputy as US ‘sheriff’ baulks at ban Daniel Flitton, The Age, 29 Mar 17   Nikki Haley marched in on her first day as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations with a blunt warning to the world: “For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names.”

Australia has now gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure its name stays off Trump’s naughty list. With negotiations for a new treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons kicking off on Monday (New York time), Haley called an extraordinary press conference outside the UN to declare the US opposition to the talks.

And there, at her heels, was Australia.

At the very moment representatives from more than 120 countries were starting their negotiations inside, Australia stood with Trump’s appointee and a group widely known as the “weasel countries” who are opposed to banning the bomb.

According to anti-nuclear campaigners, 21 countries joined Haley’s protest. They included Albania, Turkey, Croatia, Romania, Poland, Estonia, Slovenia, Hungary and South Korea. Britain and France, both nuclear armed, also spoke against a ban. Other NATO allies joined in, although not all……

Back in January, Haley had made plain the attitude the Trump administration would take to the world body. “Our goal … is to show value at the UN, and the way to show value is to show our strength, show our full voice,” she declared. “Have the backs of our allies and make sure our allies have our backs as well.

“For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names, and we will make points to respond to that accordingly.”

On Monday, after the protest at the UN, she told a key lobby group for Israel in Washington: “For anyone who says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.”

And she made the nuclear issue personal…….

Tilman Ruff, of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told Fairfax Media from New York that the US action was alarming and Australia was “aligning itself with the extremes of the Trump administration”.

“What credibility does Australia have to criticise North Korea’s reckless nuclear proliferation when it continues to claim protection itself through the very same weapons, and oppose efforts to ban them?” Dr Ruff said.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian public supports UN talks towards a ban on nuclear weapons, but the Australian government is not listening.

Nuclear test survivor Sue Coleman-Haseldine International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons look what Aunty Sue Coleman-Haseldine said to 115 Governments assembled at the UN to ban nuclear weapons!

Australia has consistently maintained that as long as nuclear weapons exist, it must rely on the American nuclear umbrella, the protection of the deterrent effect of the US’s nuclear arsenal, the second largest in the world.

But political sentiment in Australia appears to support the ban treaty negotiations.

The Australian Senate passed a motion Monday urging the government to participate in the talks, and polling shows nearly three-quarters of Australians want Australia to be part of negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

proponents say a nuclear weapons ban will create moral suasion – in the vein of the cluster and landmine conventions – for nuclear weapons states to disarm, and establish an international norm prohibiting nuclear weapons’ development, possession and use.

Negotiations to ban nuclear weapons begin, but Australia joins US boycott   At least 113 countries meet at UN to discuss ban, but US ambassador says the world is too unsafe for the US not to have nuclear weapons, Guardian, , 28 Mar 17, Negotiations on a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons have begun in New York, but have been publicly condemned by the United States, which is leading a coalition of more than 40 countries – including Australia – boycotting the talks.

At least 113 countries are part of the negotiations which have begun at UN headquarters in New York this week, aiming to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

But, Nikki Haley, appointed as the United States’ ambassador to the UN by Donald Trump in January, spoke outside the meeting saying the world was too unsafe for the US not to have nuclear weapons……

France and the UK, fellow nuclear weapons states, also spoke against the ban treaty negotiations, saying they would not assist in disarming nuclear states.

Support for a ban treaty has been growing steadily over years, with frustration at the ineffectiveness of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in reducing nuclear arsenals. More than 123 nations – the majority of nations at the UN – voted in favour of negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons.

But a ban treaty has no support from the states that actually have nuclear weapons. The nine known nuclear states – the US, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – all oppose a ban treaty.Of the non-nuclear states opposing the ban treaty, Australia has been one of the most outspoken. Continue reading

March 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chris Murray responds to statements about UNSCEAR, made by nuclear propagandist Ben Heard

Ben Heard regards UNSCEAR as the “peak body” investigating radiation effects. “Impeccably
credentialed”, he says, “the foremost experts”. Heard claims that “The generally accepted evidence is that 100mSv per year is the minimum long term dose at which ANY increased cancer risk is perhaps detectable” and , re Fukushima, “The possibility of any latent fatality is exceedingly low.”

I wonder what he makes of UNSCEAR’s 2013 report?

” E7. The lifetime baseline risk of solid cancer in the general population of Japan is about 35% on average (males about 41%; females about 29%) [W12]. Following a hypothetical exposure of a group from the same population corresponding to an acute uniform whole-body dose of 1 Sv (equivalent to an absorbed dose of 1 Gy of low-LET radiation to all organs and tissues of the body), the Committee previously estimated the additional lifetime risk of solid cancer due to that exposure to be approximately 13% on average (annex A, table 70 in the Committee’s 2006 Report [U9]). Following doses of 0.1 Sv and 0.01 Sv, the additional lifetime risk due to the exposure was estimated to be smaller by factors of about 10 and 100, respectively.

“31. Adults living in the city of Fukushima were estimated to have received, on average, an effective dose of about 4 mSv in the first year following the accident; estimated doses for 1-year-old infants were about twice as high. Those living in other districts within the Fukushima Prefecture and in neighbouring prefectures were estimated to have received comparable or lower doses; even lower doses were estimated to have been received elsewhere in Japan. Lifetime effective doses (resulting from the accident) that, on average, could be received by those continuing to live in the Fukushima Prefecture have been estimated to be just over 10 mSv; this estimate assumes that no remediation measures will be taken to reduce doses in the future and, therefore, may be an overestimate. The most important source contributing to these estimated doses was external radiation from deposited radioactive material.”.

The population of Fukushima Prefecture is about 2 million. Anyone can do the figures. Even the 100% pro-nuclear UNSCEAR’s own estimates point to an eventual additional cancer total over the next 80 years of about 2,600.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 3 Comments

No proper plan for highly radioactive waste disposal, secrecy on trucking wastes to S. Carolina

Among the materials with no disposition plan include weapons-grade plutonium, depleted uranium oxide, highly enriched uranium and heavy water.

Specifics about the quantity and timetables were redacted from the report. Lastly, the DOE report states that there is no disposition path for surplus plutonium stored at K-Area.

The DOE’s short-term strategy of continuing nuclear shipments to SRS runs counter to South Carolina’s long-held aversion to the state becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste.

More nuclear shipments to Savannah River Site likely, report says By Michael Smith Mar 28, 2017  Shipments of plutonium and other nuclear materials are expected to continue to the Savannah River Site in Aiken County for the foreseeable future, according to government records released by a watchdog group.

The latest data dump from SRS Watch includes the 2016 SRS Nuclear Materials Management Plan the group said it obtained through the Federal Freedom of Information Act.

Documents confirm that plutonium from Japan, Germany and Switzerland was shipped to the site last year, as previously reported by the Aiken Standard. The 2016 report further states the U.S. Department of Energy plans further shipments of plutonium, uranium and tritium, with some shipments expected to continue for 18 years. Continue reading

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

America and its allies (including Australia) trying to stymie UN talks on banning nuclear weapons

United States and Allies Protest U.N. Talks to Ban Nuclear Weapons, NYT, MARCH 27, 2017, UNITED NATIONS — Saying the time was not right to outlaw nuclear arms, the United States led a group of dozens of

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Australian Government’s Bill to give Energy Minister power over AEMO

SA power: Government introduces bill giving Energy Minister power over AEMO, ABC News, 28 Mar 17 By Sara Garcia and Nick Harmsen The South Australian Government has introduced legislation to give the Energy Minister the power to direct electricity generators to turn on when required — a move it says would have prevented the September statewide blackout.

The measure has been born out of frustration that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) ordered a power cut to tens of thousands of homes in February during a heatwave, when a shortfall in supply was looming. A second unit at Pelican Point sat idle at the time, and the Government said AEMO should have directed it to switch on.

Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the powers would have also prevented the statewide blackout on September 28 as he would have ramped up generation in South Australia in preparation for the catastrophic event.

“We would have constrained the interconnector in the morning as I asked AEMO and there would have been more South Australian generation on,” Mr Koutsantonis said.”[I asked and they responded] there wasn’t a credible contingency to constrain the interconnector.”

Mr Koutsantonis said the powers the Government was seeking currently exist under a state of emergency.But he said he needed the power to prevent a state of emergency in the first place.”What we’re doing is extending those powers before an emergency situation exists to make sure we can avoid it,” he said.”These powers will give me the ability to direct either AEMO or direct generators individually and direct individuals.”That power will ensure that market power is not the driving aspect of our energy security in this state.”

Premier Jay Weatherill said the current system was “broken” and put “profits before people”.”We’re taking back control and putting South Australians first,” he said.

The Government introduced the bill this morning and called on an immediate debate.The Opposition tried to block the debate, but failed.”I don’t mind that they don’t have a plan, but get out of the way and don’t stop us from implementing our plan,” Mr Weatherill said……

March 29, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Australia | 1 Comment

Rapid fall expected in price of solar plus battery storage for South Australia

S.A. network says solar plus battery storage to cost just 15c/kWh, REneweconomy, By  on 28 March 2017 The price of rooftop solar and battery storage for household and business consumers will fall to just 15c/kWh within a few years, leading to a dramatic reshaping of the energy grid, according to a leading network operator. Rob Stobbe, the head of SA Power Networks, which operates the local network in South Australia, says rooftop solar has already fallen to around 5c/kWh for households and businesses. Continue reading

March 29, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | 2 Comments

Thousands of scientists sign letter calling for a total ban on nuclear weapons

Why scientists are signing an open letter calling for a total ban on nuclear weapons  The Conversation  By Toby Walsh and Rob Brooks, UNSW  These are dangerous times.

The Doomsday Clock sits at just two-and-a-half minutes before midnight, which represents global catastrophe.

The Doomsday Clock has been maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1947, and has only ever been closer to midnight back in 1953, when the United States and Soviet Union tested their first hydrogen bombs, and the world was locked in a very dangerous nuclear arms race.

A single hydrogen bomb, thousands of times more powerful than the devices used on Hiroshima or Nagasaki, would be capable of obliterating a whole city.An all-out war, detonating even a fraction of the roughly 14,000 nuclear weapons in existence today, might trigger a mini ice age.Winter would last year-round, agriculture would be destroyed, and civilisation would likely collapse.

The then-US president Ronald Reagan put it simply and clearly: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Today we face these fears once more.

Russia and China are again flexing their military might. The United States is led by President Donald Trump, who has a more hawkish take on international affairs than his predecessors.

He has also said that if any country is to have nuclear weapons, then he wants the United States to be at the “top of the pack“.There are many potential flashpoints around the world — including Syria, the Korean peninsular, the South China Sea, Iraq, and Ukraine — and many despots and terrorists looking to cause problems.

There is, however, reason for hope. This week’s talks at the United Nations aim to negotiate a total ban on nuclear weapons. These talks are the first of their kind ever to take place at the UN. The aim is to stigmatise nuclear weapons, as with biological and chemical weapons.The ultimate goal is a world free of these weapons of mass destruction.

In support of these discussions, thousands of scientists from around the world have today released an open letter urging our national governments to achieve this goal of banning nuclear weapons. The letter is signed by 23 Nobel Laureates, a past US Secretary of Defense, and many well-known scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Martin Rees and Daniel Dennett.

I, too, have signed the letter.

As scientists, we bear a special responsibility for having invented these weapons of mass destruction.And as scientists, we are also very aware of the disastrous effects that they could have on our planet. Nuclear weapons threaten not merely those who have them, but all people who walk the Earth.

We urge the diplomats meeting in the United Nations today to find a way to rid the world of this evil. [letter is published on the original of this article].

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports on emissions reduction with economic development

IRENA, IEA Study — 2˚C Scenario Possible With Renewable Energy, Clean Technica, March 27th, 2017 by  At the request of the German government, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) conducted a study to determine whether global economic growth is possible while honoring the pledge made by the world community in Paris to prevent average world temperatures from rising more than 2º Celsius.

The result? The study concludes that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70% by the year 2050 and eliminated entirely by 2060 without causing the global economy to shrink.

“The Paris Agreement reflected an unprecedented international determination to act on climate. The focus must be on the decarbonization of the global energy system as it accounts for almost two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. Critically, the economic case for the energy transition has never been stronger. Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil-fuel power plants. And through 2050, the decarbonization can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables.” — IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin

The study is entitled “Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition.” Its thesis is that increasing the the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to prevent global temperature from rising more than 2º Celsius while permitting the global economy to grow.

Decarbonizing Is Essential……

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US President Trump sets out to reverse all Obama’s action on climate change

Donald Trump moves to erase Barack Obama’s legacy on fighting climate change, The Age 29 Mar 17 Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Washington: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to scrap Obama-era climate change regulations that his administration says are hindering oil drillers and coal miners.

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said before signing the decree. “With today’s executive action I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion and to cancel job-killing regulations.”

It is the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record and instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing US carbon emissions. The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as former president Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Mr Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots….. Continue reading

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr Jim Green on Solartopia radio

The Fall of the Nuke Power Industry is welcomed in Solartopia Radio as we talk with Jim Green in Australia. Our first “down-under” guest is the nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth and edits the NUCLEAR MONITOR for the NUCLEAR INFORMATION & RESOURCE SERVICE. He fills us in on the current energy crisis in Australia and Elon Musk’s offer to solve it with a giant battery farm, a solution Jim Green basically dismisses. We then cover the thrilling demise of the global atomic power industry, starting with Fukushima and visiting the collective downfall of the American and European industries. We worry about China, Russia, India and South Korea. But Jim’s in-depth understanding of the collapse of the Peaceful Atom gives us profound hope. PRN.FM 23rd March 2017

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Giles Parkinson on need for battery storage to be configured properly

Batteries not configured to remove demand peaks, network says[good graphs], REneweconomy. By  on 27 March 2017 SA Power Networks, currently running the largest residential battery storage trial in the country, says its early finding suggest that battery storage devices are not configured to help reduce network peaks. In fact, in some ways they may be making the situation worse.

SAPN last year installed 100 batteries in customer premises in the city of Salisbury, in what is the largest virtual power plant installed to date, and is now getting some early results from the three-year trial.

The most dramatic finding is represented in this graph below [on original] . It shows how solar affects grid demand and what happens when battery storage is added. Rather than smoothing out the peaks, it can actually make the “ramp up” periods more abrupt.

According to Mark Vincent, SAPN’s head of network investment strategy and planning, this is not a good outcome.

Vincent told RenewEconomy during a recent visit to SAPN’s innovation centre in Adelaide that it underlines the need for new algorithms to be put in place to change the behaviour of battery storage devices so it takes the peaks – both bottom and low……….

Battery storage will be crucial for the SA network, because the state has traditionally had the highest volatility, and with the introduction of more wind and solar, will reduce its dependence on traditional fossil fuel plants.

That leaves battery storage to play a crucial role in meeting peak demand and providing grid stability, and SAPN hopes that it will help offset further investment in new poles and wires or equipment upgrades.

Already, the state has 650MW of rooftop solar, accounting for nearly 6 per cent of its demand in 2015/16, and within a decade the output of rooftop solar is expected to be more than minimum demand in the state………

“To maximise the benefits of solar PV/battery installations, smarter algorithms in battery management software are needed to slow down the rate of charging of the batteries and their rate of energy discharge so we can lop off the demand and generation peaks.

“In turn, we need to make sure that our tariffs are designed to encourage battery vendors to configure their systems in this way, and so that customers will also see a benefit.

“Without those changes to the configuration of batteries so that they charge and discharge in smarter ways, widespread uptake of batteries has the potential to lead to inefficiencies that will require a significant response from us as distribution network managers.”

SAPN says that while it “doesn’t make financial sense” for most customers to invest in batteries just yet – contrary to some private estimates – it admits that prices are reducing rapidly.

“We think it’s inevitable that customers will invest more and more in battery systems. Our challenge is to make sure that they operate these systems in ways that reduce and don’t increase network costs to all customers.”

March 29, 2017 Posted by | South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Murdoch media’s Twitter spat against renewables

Murdoch media vs Renewables: Anatomy of a Twitter spat, REneweconomy By  on 28 March 2017

The release of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s fourth and final report into South Australia’s state-wide blackout last September has sparked a social media spat between the state’s energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis, and  opposition energy spokesperson The Australian’s Adelaide bureau chief, Michael Owen.

The heated exchanged started when Owen – who this morning published an article on the report titled “Wind farms key” to SA blackout – took a swipe at the South Australian government for its response to the report.

Seemingly undaunted by AEMO’s actual findings – which have since been reiterated in a news briefing by AEMO chair Tony Marxsen, who said the system black had “very little” to do with the type of generation, and that it “was not about renewables” – Owen tweeted:……

March 29, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment