Australian news, and some related international items

As the much-loved Yami Lester is laid to rest, we remember him, and Maralinga

Paul and Dan Kelly – Maralinga

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunshine Coast church communities unite in concern about climate change

Why Sunshine Coast church groups fear climate change, Bill Hoffman | 8th Aug 2017 CONCERN for the welfare of future generations and protection of the environment were the principal concerns that drove more than 1000 people of faith on the Sunshine Coast to sign a petition calling on the Federal Government to do more to address the looming impact of climate change.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Trump and Kim Jong Un exchange fiery threats

Trump warns North Korea of ‘fire and fury’, CAMERON STEWARTWASHINGTON, The Australian,  August 9, 2017 

Donald Trump has threatened to hit North Korea with ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ if it escalates its nuclear threat against the United States.

His strong words came after the revelation that North Korea has successfully miniaturised a nuclear warhead, removing the last major obstacle to Kim Jong-un’s regime launching a nuclear attack on the United States or Australia.

It was met by a furious response from the president. “(They) best not make any more threats,” he said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The frightening new assessment by US intelligence is a game-changer for the west, catapulting the rogue regime into the status of a genuine nuclear weapons state.

“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” says a confidential US intelligence assessment by the Defence Intelligence Agency reported by the Washington Post.

A separate US intelligence assessment also estimates that North Korea now has as many as 60 nuclear weapons, up the three times the number of previous estimates.

The conclusions are startling because they shows North Korea had developed all aspects of its nuclear and missile capability much faster than previously thought.

The regime successfully tested its first long range ICBM last month, bringing some of continental US and parts of Northern Australia into its missile range.

But the west was still sceptical that North Korea had advanced its technology to be able to miniaturise its nuclear weapons to place them on the ICBM and deliver them to a distant target.

The alarming new assessments come as North Korea threatened ‘thousands-fold revenge’ against the US over its role in obtained UN Security Council agreement for sweeping new sanctions against North Korea.

Donald Trump’s national security adviser HR McMaster said at the weekend that a North Korea with nuclear-tipped ICBMs would be ‘intolerable from the president’s perspective.”

August 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s ski industry faces continuing problems due to climate change

Snowy retreat: Climate change puts Australia’s ski industry on a downhill slope, SMH, Peter Hannam, 8 Aug 17 Australia’s ski resorts face the prospect of a long downhill run as a warming climate reduces snow depth, cover and duration. The industry’s ability to create artificial snow will also be challenged, scientists say.

Resorts are also going to become more reliant on big snow dumps such as this weekend’s blizzard – after a poor start to the season – as the frequency of smaller, top-up snowfalls diminish.

A snow retreat has been observed for half a century, with rising temperatures rather than reduced precipitation to blame, according to a major CSIRO-Bureau of Meteorology report. Under high greenhouse gas emissions pathway, snow at lower-elevation sites such as Mt Buffalo could all but disappear by 2050.

Warming springs have led to stark impacts at the end of the ski season. Early October snow depths fell 30 per cent during the 2000-13 period compared with 1954-99, a separate study in 2015 found.

Snow is a “threshold variable”. A slight temperature rise can turn snowflakes into rain that washes away, rather than adds to, snow cover.

That’s why all climate projections point in one direction, says Tom Remenyi, a researcher at the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. It’s both “encouraging and terrifying” that observations have matched models, giving researchers confidence about their bleak predictions, he said…….

Snow guns are becoming less efficient as humidity rises, reduce output of artificial snow by as much as 70 per cent as they ice up, Dr Remenyi said.

New “snow factories” have been introduced to Mt Buller and Mt Selwyn in Victoria, and more are likely. They create ice shavings with longer durability than gun-fired snow.

But warming temperatures will raise costs to maintain artificial snow cover, Dr Remenyi said. A study he helped write on the potential impact of climate change on Victoria’s resorts found that “by 2020- 2030 conditions suitable for snowmaking are projected to decline substantially”………..

‘Fragile ecology’

And as the NSW Nature Conservation Council notes in a new study on the effects of a warming planet, impacts in alpine regions aren’t restricted to humans’ winter pastimes.

The endangered pygmy possum, for instance, has had its range shrunk to a little as 10 square kilometres.

“The wildlife that lives in the Australia snowfields are at the front line of global warming because they are so sensitive to rising temperatures and changed snowfall patterns,” Kate Smolski, council chief executive, said.

“If deep, long-lasting snow cover disappears, the fragile ecology of snowfields will unravel because the plants and animals that live there have nowhere else to go.”

August 9, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

In one key region of Antarctica, glaciers are not showing the effects of climate change

Not all glaciers in Antarctica have been affected by climate change SOCIETY OF AMERICA  Boulder, Colo., USA: A new study by scientists at Portland State University and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder has found that the effects of climate change, which are apparent in other parts of the Antarctic continent, are not yet observed for glaciers in the western Ross Sea coast.

Published online ahead of print for the journal Geology, the study found that the pattern of glacier advance and retreat has not changed along the western Ross Sea coast, in contrast to the rapidly shrinking glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The western Ross Sea is a key region of Antarctica, home to a complex and diverse ocean ecosystem, and the location of several Antarctic research stations including the U.S. McMurdo Station, the largest on the continent.

The research team compiled historic maps and a variety of satellite images (such as spanning the last half-century to examine glacier activity along more than 700 kilometers of coastline. The NASA-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat series satellites were particularly useful, including the newest Landsat 8 instrument, launched in 2013.

The scientists examined 34 large glaciers for details of ice flow, extent, and calving events (formation of icebergs). Although each glacier showed advances and retreats, there was no overall pattern over time or with latitude.

The results suggest that changes in the drivers of glacier response to climate — air temperature, snowfall, and ocean temperatures — have been minimal over the past half century in this region.

The study was part of a National Science Foundation and U.S. Geological Survey study and was motivated by previous work documenting significant glacier retreat and ice shelf collapse along the coastline of the Antarctic Peninsula. The region’s ongoing changes were highlighted recently with the cracking and separation of a large iceberg from the Larsen C Ice Shelf.

Earlier studies had documented little change in the western Ross coastline prior to 1995, and the new study both confirmed the earlier work and extended the analysis to the present time.

This work underscores the complexity of Antarctic climate change and glacier response.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian public servants face disciplinary action if they criticise govt, or “like” such criticisms on social media

US Government department tells staff to not use term ‘climate change, A PUBLIC sector department has told employees to cease using the term ‘climate change’ and opt for other more benign words insteadBenedict Brook@BenedictBrook, , 8 Aug 17, ….

While Australian public sector staff have not been told what to say, they have been warned what they’re allowed to like or say on social media.

On Monday, it emerged that public servants who criticised the government on Facebook or Twitter could face disciplinary action.

If they “like” or share a Facebook post critical of the government, they could find themselves in hot water — even if they select the “angry face” reaction.

Government employees could also be in breach of the public service code of conduct for material they send in a private email, or for failing to remove “nasty comments” posted by other people to their social media pages.

The new social media guidelines, published on Monday by the Australian Public Service Commission, reinforce that while APS employees “have the right to participate in public and political debate”, it is “not an unlimited right”.

“If you ‘like’ something on a social media platform, it will generally be taken to be an endorsement of that material as though you’d created that material yourself,” the guidelines read.

Nadine Flood, national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union, described the new policy as “overreach”, saying it “clearly does not strike the right balance between giving our community faith in the Commonwealth public service and allowing people who work in public services to undertake normal, everyday activity in a democracy”.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

USA climate report – leaked, because Donald Trump is likely to suppress it.

US climate change report leaked amid fears Donald Trump’s administration will dismiss it, 8 Aug 17

A CONTROVERSIAL draft report on climate change that contradicts claims made by Donald Trump’s administration on global warming has been leaked. A DAMNING report on climate change that contradicts claims made by Donald Trump’s administration on global warming has been leaked, as scientists fear the President may suppress it.

“Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now,” the report said according to The New York Times, which acquired a draft copy of the report by scientists from 13 federal agencies.

The report says extreme heatwaves have become more common and extreme cold waves have less common since the 1980s. It says emissions of greenhouse gases will affect the degree to which global temperatures continue to rise — a claim President Trump and some members of his cabinet have disputed. One scientist cited anonymously by the Times says he and other researchers are worried that the Trump administration, which must approve the report’s release, will suppress it.

The report “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain and that the ability to predict the effects is limited,” the Times said.

“How much more the climate will change depends on future emissions and the sensitivity of the climate system to those emissions,” a draft of the report states.

The report is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is carried out every four years, The New York Times reports. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft and is awaiting permission from the Trump administration for it to be publicly released.

 The report also found that we would still experience at least 0.30 degrees Celsius of warming over this century compared with today, even if we put a stop to greenhouse gas emissions.

A small increase in global temperatures can lead to prolonged heatwaves, storms and the breakdown of coral reefs. The report found that surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are warming twice as fast as the global average.

“It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice melting that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities,” the report states.

The United States just announced Friday it would still take part in international climate change negotiations in order to protect its interests, despite its planned withdrawal from the Paris accord on global warming. Two months after President Trump announced the United States would abandon the 2015 global pact, his administration confirmed it had informed the United Nations of its “intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement” — a process that will take at least until 2020.

The United States is the world’s second biggest producer of greenhouse gases after China and its withdrawal was a seen as a body blow to the Paris agreement.

The accord commits signatories to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, which is blamed for melting ice caps and glaciers, rising sea levels and more violent weather events.

They vowed steps to keep the worldwide rise in temperatures “well below” two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times and to “pursue efforts” to hold the increase under 1.5 degrees Celsius

August 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change having an unexpected effect on sex.

Climate change is disrupting the birds and the bees, We all know that climate change will cause more extreme weather and rising seas. But it is also having an unexpected effect on sex. BBC, By Claire Asher, 8 August 2017

Our changing climate seems set to disrupt just about everything. From rising sea levels to ocean acidification, the list of negative consequences from climate change is endless. But one area that often goes unmentioned in the climate change discussion is sex.

Over the last two decades, scientists have found that warmer temperatures are quietly spoiling the mood, making it harder for plants and animals to reproduce.

Here are five ways that climate change is ruining sex lives.

It’s a numbers game

While humans and many other animals determine sex genetically, many reptiles and some fish use the incubation temperature of the eggs to set the gender of their offspring. This means that changing global temperatures could alter the ratio of sexes produced, making it harder for these animals to find mates………

Timing is everything

Phenological shifts are common, because many animals use environmental cues like temperature and rainfall to time key events like migration, flowering and breeding. Climate change is changing the timing and strength of the seasons, and as these cues change, the annual ebb and flow of the natural world is being disrupted.

In fact, one of the first pieces of evidence for the effect of climate change on living things was the discovery that plants are flowering earlier and earlier each year………

Bending the rules of attraction

Changing environmental cues might also influence how animals court members of the opposite sex.

The decorations, displays, dances and songs that animals use to attract a mate are all heavily dependent on the environmental conditions the animal lives in. ……..

A mate for life?

Warmer climates seem to have a tendency to make animals less faithful. In a 2012 study, Botero studied monogamy in 122 species of bird. He found that “in places where environments change more frequently and unexpectedly, apparently monogamous females tend to hedge their bets by mating with more than one partner on the side”.

These “extra-pair relationships” become increasingly frequent as annual climatic cycles become more variable. …..

The heat-wave slump

Finally, climate change might even impact on our own sex lives.

A 2015 working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research found a correlation between hot temperatures and low birth rates in the USA. A single hot day when temperatures went over 26C reduced birth rates nine months later by 0.4%, equating to over 1,100 births. It isn’t clear whether this was due to a reduction in the frequency of sex – after all, sometimes it is too hot to do anything – or due to reduced fertility at high temperatures……..

August 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change already having bad effects on air travel

Climate Change Will Ruin Air Travel, Allana Akhtar , 8 Aug 17, When the oceans start flooding up land from ice caps melting, good luck using a plane to GTFO.

Climate changes is getting so bad, researchers at Columbia University foresee 30 percent of flights being unable to take off by 2050. Since rising temperatures make the air less dense, heavy planes won’t be able to get enough lift to get in the air. We saw this effect earlier this year, when flights were grounded at the Phenoix airport due to high temperature.

To make planes less heavy, airlines will accept less people on board. And more competitive airline seats make for really, really expensive plane tickets. Fun!

 Extra bad news for New Yorkers: researchers predict NYC’s LaGuardia will see some of the worst effects of the temperature change.

More fun airline news from The Economist:

The paper is only the latest to suggest that climate change will start to become a bigger problem for airlines. Other studies have pointed to a myriad of other issues, including more air turbulence, increased flight times because of changes to certain jet streams, and airport flooding caused by rising sea levels.

Airports and companies could improve engine performance, lengthen runways so that aircrafts get more speed and schedule more flights for cooler parts of the day, but really we humans basically fucked up everything, so things aren’t looking up.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Legal action against Commonwealth Bank over its failure to disclose climate change risk in report 

Commonwealth Bank faces legal action over failure to disclose climate change risk in report  By Emma Younger, Two shareholders have launched legal action against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for allegedly failing to adequately disclose the risk climate change poses to its financial position.

Proceedings have been filed in the Federal Court on behalf of shareholders Guy and Kim Abrahams claiming the bank did not disclose the risk in its 2016 annual report.

The shareholders alleged it was a breach of the Corporations Act which required businesses to give a true and fair view of their financial position and performance.

Earlier this year, one of Australia’s financial regulators warned climate change could threaten the stability of the entire financial system, as it prepared to apply climate change “stress tests” to the nation’s financial institutions.

Case could set precedent

Geoff Summerhayes, an executive board member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), said it expected big companies to carefully consider the risks and warned company directors could be liable if they failed to do so.

A lawyer for Environmental Justice Australia, David Barnden, said the Federal Court action would be a test case which could have wide-ranging repercussions.

“This case is the first of its kind to test the extent of climate change risk disclosure in annual reports,” he said. The claim sought an injunction to stop the Commonwealth Bank from making similar omissions in future annual reports.

The bank’s 2016 annual report discussed climate change as an environment, social and governance priority.

‘Financial interest’ in climate change

Mr Barnden said it should have been disclosed as a major or material risk.

“Generally climate change risks pose financial risks to a bank like CBA by virtue of the bank receiving mortgage repayments from people who own residential housing on the coast — those houses might be at risk from things like sea level rise,” he said.

“There’s other financial risks that CBA has in terms of its loans to fossil fuel companies.

“So as the market adjusts to a low carbon economy, the bank may not receive those repayments.” Shareholder Guy Abrahams is a climate change advocate who bought shares in the bank 25 years ago.

“As their customers and as their shareholders and even people who invest through their superannuation would have a financial interest, most of them, in the Commonwealth Bank, this is a matter of public interest,” Mr Abrahams said.

“This is a really important issue and I think the bank should lead by example.”

Mr Barnden said there was also reputational risks for the bank with shareholders raising concerns about the bank’s position on funding Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine.

“We say that the Adani mine is a substantial matter of concern for the Australian public and that the shareholder needs to know how the bank is dealing with that concern,” he said.

The Commonwealth Bank has been contacted for comment.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Governance and operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)

governance & operation of Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)W&J Submission to Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into the governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)
W&J submission to the Inquiry into NAIF 28 July 2017

Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) are the Indigenous Traditional Owners of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland.
We are the first people and our country – Wangan and Jagalingou country – is in what is now called the Galilee Basin;  and in the area designated as Northern Australia for the operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).

“The W&J are directly impacted upon by the NAIF Board’s pending decision on an application by the Adani Group,  as we are Traditional Owners of the area in which the Carmichael mine and related mining infrastructure is proposed. … “

August 9, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

9 August REneweconomy news


  • Making the energy transition more equitable and inclusive
    The transition to a clean, affordable and equitable supply of energy is finely on the agenda in Australia, compounded by soaring electricity prices and the mostly favourable response to the Finkel review.
  • SA’s energy policy: five steps forward, two steps back
    South Australia’s energy security target could increase electricity prices while providing an incentive for power companies to pump out more carbon emissions.
  • Queenslanders blame something they don’t have – renewables – for rising energy bills
    Queenslanders apparently blame renewables for price rises, even though they have any. But don’t get between a poll and a Murdoch campaign.
  • Poles and wires: Consumers using less, paying more
    Malcolm Turnbull should have a word with network owners and regulators this week, as well as the gentailers. Network charges per unit of electricity have more than doubled.
Tesla Powerpack battery added to wind turbine at NZ salt factory
In “Australasian first”, 250kW Tesla Powerpack added to 660kw wind turbine, to provide 75 per cent of energy for NZ salt manufacturer.
  • Tesla, Zen, Lyon slam S.A. energy security target as industrial “relic”
    Tesla, Zen, Lyon and others slam South Australia’s proposed energy security target, saying it lacks technical expertise and will deliver windfall profits to incumbent gas generators, and not encourage new technologies like battery storage.
  • Know your NEM: The profits CLP didn’t make from Australian brown coal
    The interesting takeaway from EnergyAustralia’s interim results, and other news from the NEM week that was.
  • Tesla says favouring gas akin to choosing paper records over digital files
    Tesla says battery storage can deliver many grid services provided by gas generators, and thinking otherwise is like supporting paper records over digital files.
  • Tesla seeks $1.5bn bond offering while shifting solar strategy
    Tesla is emphasising profitability from its solar business, which has undergone significant transformation since the company bought SolarCity.
    Tesla Powerpack battery added to wind turbine at NZ salt factory
    In “Australasian first”, 250kW Tesla Powerpack added to 660kw wind turbine, to provide 75 per cent of energy for NZ salt manufacturer.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment