Australian news, and some related international items

South Australian govt’s pro nuclear propaganda campaign was expensive

Agency formed to push nuclear waste dump to SA spent $7.6 million  20 Aug 17, Miles Kemp,

THE taxpayer has been handed a “catering” bill that is the equivalent of 45,000 cups of coffee, for a talkfest on nuclear energy.  The catering bill for the so-called “Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Agency” was $182,580.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016, wastes | Leave a comment

Dryness of vegetation in Sydney area adds risk to coming bushfire season

Dry winter primes Sydney Basin for early start of bushfire season The Conversation, Matthias Boer, Associate Professor, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Rachael Helene Nolan, Postdoctoral research fellow, University of Technology Sydney. Ross Bradstock, Professor, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, University of Wollongong, August 21, 2017        It might feel like the depths of winter, but Australian fire services are preparing for an early start to the bushfire season. Sydney has been covered with smoke from hazard reduction burns, and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service has forecast a “horrific” season.

Predicting the severity of a bushfire season isn’t easy, and – much like the near-annual announcements of the “worst flu season on record” – repeated warnings can diminish their urgency.

However, new modelling that combines Bureau of Meteorology data with NASA satellite imaging has found that record-setting July warmth and low rainfall have created conditions very similar to 2013, when highly destructive bushfires burned across NSW and Victoria.

Crucially, this research has found we’re approaching a crucial dryness threshold, past which fires are historically far more dangerous……..

August 21, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Bleaching afflicting coral right across the Pacific Ocean

Coral bleaching: Researchers struggle to find anywhere in Pacific Ocean untouched, ABC News, By Nadia Daly, 20 Aug 17  Scientists aboard a French research ship say they have been shocked to see the extent of coral bleaching across the Pacific Ocean, just halfway through their two-year voyage around the world.

The vessel Tara has been sailing around the globe for more than a decade to study the effects of climate change on the ocean.

Its current expedition will cross 11 time zones and span 100,000 kilometres from Europe to Asia and back again, and the group claims it is the biggest study of this scale across coral reefs.

The focus is how coral reefs in the Pacific are adapting to climate change, and on a stopover in Sydney, captain Nicolas De La Brosse said the extent of damage is already deeply troubling.

“What we’ve seen in really isolated spots like Samoa for example, even though it’s very far away from [developed] countries with pollution, we struggled to find any coral life,” he said.

Mr De La Brosse said nowhere was immune to the effects of global warming.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the Pacific, coral is starting to bleach.”

He said data was still being collected and analysed and the final results would be released at the end of 2019……

August 21, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull in Tasmania – praising wind and solar power!

Turnbull trumpets Tasmania’s ability to lead the country in renewable energy, ETHAN JAMES, AAP, Mercury, August 18, 2017  Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has trumpeted Tasmania’s ability to lead the nation in renewable energy at the state’s Liberal Party council meeting.Mr Turnbull today addressed 250 delegates at the annual conference in Launceston, the party’s final gathering before a state election in March. He praised Liberal Premier Will Hodgman’s economic management in a speech that touched on energy, terrorism and mental health.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | energy, politics, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Huge savings for Americans in using wind and solar power

if you add up those central estimates, wind and solar saved Americans around $88 billion in health and environmental costs over eight years. Not bad.

Wind and solar power are saving Americans an astounding amount of money
Not getting sick and dying from pollution is worth quite a bit, it turns out.
 VOX,  by  Aug 18, 2017 Wind and solar power are subsidized by just about every major country in the world, either directly or indirectly through tax breaks, mandates, and regulations.

The main rationale for these subsidies is that wind and solar produce, to use the economic term of art, “positive externalities” — benefits to society that are not captured in their market price. Specifically, wind and solar power reduce pollution, which reduces sickness, missed work days, and early deaths. Every wind farm or solar field displaces some other form of power generation (usually coal or natural gas) that would have polluted more.

Subsidies for renewables are meant to remedy this market failure, to make the market value of renewables more accurately reflect their total social value.

This raises an obvious question: Are renewable energy subsidies doing the job? That is to say, are they accurately reflecting the size and nature of the positive externalities?

That turns out to be a devilishly difficult question to answer. Quantifying renewable energy’s health and environmental benefits is super, super complicated. Happily, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab have just produced the most comprehensive attempt to date. It contains all kinds of food for thought, both in its numbers and its uncertainties.

(Quick side note: Just about every country in the world also subsidizes fossil fuels. Globally, fossil fuels receive far more subsidies than renewables, despite the lack of any policy rationale whatsoever for such subsidies. But we’ll put that aside for now.)

Here’s how much wind and solar saved in health and environmental costs

Continue reading

August 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

President Rouhani trying hard to keep the nuclear deal alive, despite Trump

Iran’s top priority to protect nuclear deal from US  Rouhani, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday the top foreign policy priority for his new government was to protect the nuclear deal from being torn up by the United States. “The most important job of our foreign minister is first to stand behind the JCPOA, and not to allow the US and other enemies to succeed,” Rouhani told parliament, using the technical name for the 2015 deal that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear programme.

“Standing up for the JCPOA means standing up to Iran’s enemies,” he said on the last day of debates over his cabinet selections. Rouhani indicated a week ago that Iran was ready to walk out on the nuclear deal if the United States continued to apply fresh sanctions.

US President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to tear up the deal during his campaign, and it has come under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and Washington imposed new sanctions — with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement.

But Rouhani has insisted it remains Iran’s preferred way forward, not least to help rebuild the struggling economy and create jobs.

“The second responsibility of the foreign ministry… is to get involved in economic activities. It should help attract foreign investment and technology,” Rouhani said, adding that Iran needed $200 billion in investments for the oil and gas sector alone.

Parliament approved 16 of his 17 cabinet picks, rejecting his suggested minister of energy, a reformist named Habibollah Bitaraf. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was the charismatic face of Iran’s nuclear negotiations, retained his position.

So did Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, who recently struck a billion-dollar deal with French giant Total.

Rouhani, a political moderate, worked hard behind the scenes to secure support for his choices, including from the supreme leader and the military. He began his second term earlier this month after winning a resounding victory over a hardline challenger in May, vowing to continue his outreach to the world and improve civil liberties at home.

But he has angered reformists by again failing to appoint a single woman minister, and looks no closer to securing the release of jailed opposition leaders — one of whom, Mehdi Karroubi, briefly went on hunger strike this week to demand a trial after six years under house arrest.

Rouhani has yet to appoint a minister of science, research and technology, which conservatives consider to be a sensitive post.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Despite the chaos in Canberra, the govt could still provide funding to Adani coal project

Minister’s decisions not up for legal challenge, as citizenship toll mounts
Executive decisions, including a possible loan to the Adani coal project, made by ministers now subject to the High Court citizenship challenge, would not be at legal risk if the Court finds the ministers ineligible to be elected, according to the federal government…. (subscribers only)

August 21, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Community energy in Canberra – backing a solar energy future

Investing in a brighter energy future for Australia, 20 Aug 2017, We’re backers, not bystanders. Like many, we’re concerned about climate change – and want to play our part. That’s why we’re among the 867 people who invested in what will be Australia’s largest, community-owned solar farm.

SolarShare is building its flagship project, a one-megawatt solar farm that shares land with a vineyard, in the Majura Valley in Canberra.

It’s the first of hopefully many solar farms and projects owned by the community.

SolarShare has been funded by people like us, who will receive a good return on our initial investment as the electricity it generates from the sun is sold. At the same time, the farm will power 260 homes, reducing our reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

While governments can be slow to act, individuals, communities and businesses across Australia are finding their own solutions.

The transition to renewable energy has started – and it’s exciting. But it needs to happen faster if we are to leave this place better, cleaner and safer for our grandchildren. None of us can do everything, but we can all do something.

As soon as we could, we put solar panels on our roof making our house somewhat of a novelty in the neighbourhood. These days, solar covers 21 per cent of Australia’s suitable rooftops.

A couple months ago we bought an electric car, which we fuel for free with the rooftop panels. We were amazed to see that India, Britain, France and Norway have announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

Until governments pick up the pace, individuals will have to work together. Being part of a larger project, like a community solar farm, is a great way to be part of an exciting new vision.   David and Lainie Shorthouse are SolarShare investors, and Canberra residents.

August 21, 2017 Posted by | ACT, storage | Leave a comment