Australian news, and some related international items

Even pro nuclear THE AUSTRALIAN pours scorn on Tony Abbott’s nuclear submarine call

Idea of an Australian nuclear submarine fleet just won’t float,,  29 June 17  “…..Abbott’s proposal is also completely unrealistic and, if it gains any traction, can serve only to ­inject yet new delay into the ­already insanely slow process of our acquiring new subs.

……..Nuclear-powered subs are vastly more formidable than conventionally powered subs. As Julia Gillard was ­occasionally wont to point out, submarines are so important in modern warfare partly because they are an asymmetrical weapon.

They can do enormous damage and they require enormous effort from an adversary to detect and destroy. The key to their lethality and their asymmetry is their stealth. You never quite know where the buggers are. ­Because nuclear subs have an ­almost infinitely greater submerged range than conventional subs, not to mention being able to carry a much greater payload, they pose a much bigger threat.

………With characteristic and refreshing directness, Abbott tells us what a sub’s main role is: “To ­inflict massive damage on an enemy’s ability to wage war.”

……. Abbott established ­definitively that, starting from a position of great strength, he could not sustain a project to buy subs that were built overseas. Now that Adelaide has been solemnly promised, by both sides of politics, that our new subs will be built there, what possible basis is there for imagining that any government could break this promise and survive? Nuclear subs could not be built in Adelaide.

……Even if magically we did make a national commitment to ­nuc­lear subs tomorrow, it would take 10 to 20 years for us to ­acquire the expertise and build the infrastructure, if the Americans would agree to supplying it at all, another initial hurdle that would take years to jump. If we did ever go down the nuclear sub road, it would involve very heavy reliance on the US for an extended period.

……Those in the Coalition who think a leadership change would save them are mistaken, just as the past leadership change did not save them. The Liberals need to rediscover their direction and their leader needs to reunite them. ….

July 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Coalition pours scorn on Tony Abbott’s call for nuclear submarines

Tony Abbott rebuked by Marise Payne over criticism on nuclear submarine rejection, ABC News, 30 June 17 By political correspondent Louise Yaxley  One of Tony Abbott’s Coalition colleagues has warned the former prime minister he is damaging his credibility with recent speeches and interviews.

Mr Abbott wants the Government to consider nuclear-powered submarines, and criticised the capability of the subs that have been chosen.

Defence Minister Marise Payne has rebuked him, pointing out the list of problems preventing Australia choosing nuclear-propelled boats.

“We don’t have a civil nuclear industry, we don’t have the personnel or the experience or infrastructure, we don’t have the training facilities or regulatory systems that you would need to design to operate to construct a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines,” Senator Payne said.

And she reinforced Mr Abbott was prime minister when the process to choose new submarines started.

“What we are in fact doing is delivering the plan to acquire the plan that was set out and agreed by Tony Abbott and his team in 2015,” Senator Payne said……

July 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Land use too often linked to the extinguishment of native title.

Land use deals kill native title: Pat Dodson, Wendy Caccetta June 28, 2017 Opportunities offered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under Indigenous Land Use Agreements often come at too high a cost, WA Senator Pat Dodson has warned.

Senator Dodson said agreements — where native title holders and other parties can agree on the use of native title land for mutual benefit and economic development — is too often linked to the extinguishment of native title. Continue reading

July 1, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Where can the climate refugees go?

Climate refugees will search hard for homes, June 30, 2017, by Tim Radford, Where can the climate refugees go, if 2 billion are driven away by rising tides, and the interior available becomes ever more inhospitable?

By 2060, around 1.4 bn people could be climate refugees, driven from low-lying coastal cities by sea level rise. By 2100, as the global population may have reached 11bn, there could be 2bn climate refugees.

To feed those 9 to 11 bn people expected in the second half of the century, farmers will have to grow as much food in 40 years as they have grown in the last 8,000 or so.

And in a world of accelerating sea level rise and climate change, in which farmland is being degraded and turned to desert, in which ever more land is set aside for carbon storage in the form of forest, and in which the strains of survival increase social divisions and social conflict, there is a new challenge: where will the 2bn climate refugees find new homes?

“The colliding forces of human fertility, submerging coastal zones, residential retreat, and impediments to inland resettlement are a huge problem,” said Charles Geisler, professor emeritus of development sociology at Cornell University, in New York state.

“We offer preliminary estimates of the lands unlikely to support new waves of climate refugees due to the residues of war, exhausted natural resources, declining net primary productivity, desertification, urban sprawl, land concentration, ‘paving the planet’ with roads, and greenhouse gas storage zones offsetting permafrost melt.”

Although reclaiming land from oceans has been an important human project for millennia, it seems that oceans are now ‘reclaiming’ the land”

In any concerted attempts to contain climate change and limit global warming, climate scientists have to consider two big things. One is: how to drastically reduce fossil fuel use. The other is: how to use the land surface so that it takes up atmospheric carbon dioxide most efficiently.

Professor Geisler and his co-author Ben Currens, an earth and environmental scientist at the University of Kentucky, look at the big picture of land use in the long term.

They report in the journal Land Use Policy that they considered the implications of an ever faster rate of global sea level rise, as atmospheric temperatures warm and glaciers melt.

A study in Nature Climate Change has just confirmed that the seas that in the last century were rising by on average 2.2mm a year are now rising by 3.3mm a year. “Although reclaiming land from oceans has been an important human project for millennia,” write Geisler and Currens in their study, “it seems that oceans are now ‘reclaiming’ the land.”

They start from the premise that global mean sea level rise will continue beyond 2100, and from the prediction that for every 1°C of climate warming, humans should expect an eventual 2.3 metre rise in sea levels.

Losing land

In 2000, around 630 million people lived in low-lying coastal zones. By 2060, this number could have risen to 1.4bn. In the worst case scenario, the two scientists reason, almost all who dwell on the low-lying coasts will become climate refugees.

But the land that could be used to resettle those refugees is dwindling: between 1981 and 2003, around 35 million square kilometres of the planet became “degraded” and now make up almost one fourth of the world’s drylands.

Permafrost, described in the study as “a vast and cost-free warehouse” for greenhouse gases, is thawing: as it melts, it could double the current levels of atmospheric carbon and feed back into ever-faster climate change.

Were global forests to be planted in a bid to absorb this extra carbon, they would take up more than 42 million sq km or 28% of the planet’s land surface.

No entry

The two scientists then considered the barriers that climate refugees could face as they moved from the coasts. They defined what they called depletion zones – drylands, thawing permafrost and degraded land – that would be unlikely to support human existence. They identified what they call “win-lose” zones that because of urban sprawl, landfill needs and mushrooming roadways could help in some ways but not in others.

And they listed a set of what they call “no trespass zones”, from which refugees would be excluded either legally, or by violence, or by the risk of landmines or radioactive pollution.

They considered case studies, in China and in Florida in the US, where state officials have begun to plan for weather-induced population shifts.

And, although President Trump has declared climate change a hoax and is to take the US out of the Paris Agreement of 2015 in which the world’s nations undertook to reduce fossil fuel use and contain global warming to less than 2°C, the two authors think there is no other answer.

“The pressure is on us to contain greenhouse gas emissions at present levels. It’s the best ‘future proofing’ against climate change, sea level rise and the catastrophic consequences likely to play out on coasts, as well as inland, in the future,” said Professor Geisler. – Climate News Network

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Economic (non)viability of the Adani Galilee Basin Project

As the Adani mine proposal becomes a central issue in Australian politics, Prof John Quiggin looks in detail at the economic (non)viability of the mine, which has driven the company’s appeals for subsidies and government support. Prof Quiggin also suggests three reasons the unviable project is still being pursued by its supporters:

  • The project is being kept alive to avoid writing off the investment and to maintain an option value in the hope of a sustained increase in the coal price.
  • Adani could construct the proposed rail line almost entirely with public funds provided on concessional terms, then hope that other coal mines would render it profitable.
  • By making continuous demands on governments for concessions of various kinds, Adani will eventually be able to blame government policy for the failure of the project and extract compensation.

The Australia Institute is pleased to publish this paper by one of Australia’s most eminent economists on a project that is central to environmental, economic and policy debate.

Type of Publication:
Adani, Galilee basin, coal
Professor John Quiggin, School of Economics, University of Queensland
Posted on:
29 June 2017

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1 July REneweconomy news

  • WA garnet miner to build 3MW solar, wind, battery storage plant
    GMA Garnet in WA becomes latest Australian big energy user to turn to renewables and battery storage for a cheaper, more reliable power supply.
  • Another blow to CCS, as EU power giants bow out of Dutch project
    European power giants Engie and Uniper pull out of major Dutch carbon capture and storage project in same week as US project abandoned.
  • Electric vehicle charging networks rolled out across WA, Qld
    Australia’s two biggest states are rolling out extensive electric vehicle charging networks, to cater for soon to be “ubiquitous” EVs.
  • Energy storage already cost-competitive in commercial sector, finds study
    Cheaper battery prices sees storage playing a broader role in energy markets, particularly for commercial customers seeking to reduce peak consumption, research from McKinsey shows.

July 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

European Union determined to act on climate change

Angela Merkel promises to tackle Donald Trump on climate change at G20 summitWe cannot wait to act until the science has convinced every last doubter’, The Independent, Samuel Osborne @SamuelOsborne93   30 June 17, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU is “more determined than ever” to make the Paris accord against climate change a success following the US decision to withdraw from the agreement, and insisted she would not “overlook tensions” with America on Donald Trump’s first attendance at the G20.

Ms Merkel stressed in a speech to the German parliament that the EU stands fully behind its commitment to the agreement.

“We cannot expect easy discussions on climate change at the G20 summit,” she said. “Our differences with the US are clear.””

She added that “the Paris agreement is irreversible and it is not negotiable.” The German Chancellor will host the summit of leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers in Hamburg on 7 and 8 July.

Ahead of that summit, she is hosting a meeting of the European leaders who will take part in the summit later on Thursday at the chancellery in Berlin.

“We are convinced that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, an existential challenge,” she told the German parliament. “We cannot wait to act until the science has convinced every last doubter.”

She said she had agreed a plan with France’s newly elected President Emmanuel Macron to deepen cooperation in the European Union and the Eurozone, adding that the EU needed to take on more responsibility for tackling security concerns it faced, including a threat from “terrorism”.

The bloc’s remaining members would remain united in their negotiations with Britain over its planned departure from the EU, she added in Thursday’s speech to lawmakers……

July 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment