Australian news, and some related international items

Is nuclear power globally scaleable?

Nuclear Power: Caveats for Energy Policy 

Nuclear Power: Caveats for Energy Policy, Speaker: Prof. Derek Abbott, University of Adelaide, 1st Sept 2017. Is nuclear power globally scaleable? World energy consumption is 15TW. Energy efficiency could save perhaps 13TW. Consider 10 billion light bulbs in the world and replacing them with LEDs.

This could save 50GW – the output of 50 nuclear plants. Just the IEA countries alone in 2015 saved energy equivalent to the power consumption of the whole of Japan. If we were to seriously scale up to 15,000 nuclear stations we would only have 25 years worth of uranium left.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Audiovisual, General News | Leave a comment

The dilemma of North Korea’s nuclear weapons

North Korea: What can actually be done to deal with a nuclear Pyongyang?, ANALYSIS,  By chief foreign correspondent Philip Williams, From the first tweak of the seismograph it was clear this was no ordinary tremor — it signalled the most powerful bomb of all.

The North Korean TV newsreader announced with a flourish this was the state’s first hydrogen bomb.If that now means Pyongyang has the weapon and the delivery system that could wipe out a Los Angeles, a San Francisco or a Sydney in a flash, then the world is now a different place.

Nuclear weapons are supposed to be a deterrent — make yourself so dangerous no-one will ever dare challenge you — and it is a fact that barring some Scuds aimed at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War and some border skirmishes between China and Vietnam and India and Pakistan, no nuclear-armed state has ever faced a serious attack by another country.

Clearly the thinking for three generations of Kim is that the regime is made safe if everyone fears you. And the clear impression you are crazy helps too — no-one wants to aggravate a disturbed mind.

But what to do? US President Donald Trump has described the test as hostile and dangerous and said Pyongyang “only understands one thing”.

Appeasement was not working, he said, and the rogue nation has become a “great threat and embarrassment” to China. He later tweeted the US was considering “stopping trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.

That would include both China and Russia. While both signed on to the latest UN sanctions, cutting trade altogether would be a far more serious step.

Beijing would have to cut off oil supplies and Moscow send back the North Korean labourers who “volunteer” to work in Siberian forestry camps in what have been described as slave-like conditions.

The whole region and beyond is in a fix. China especially is feeling the squeeze from the United States, and even Australia has argued Beijing has not applied full muscle against North Korea to mend its errant ways.

But the Chinese Government has agreed to the latest sanctions and deeply resents the assertion it could stop Kim Jong-un if it really wanted to. There is nothing for the Chinese to gain from a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.

Not only would there be the risk of nuclear contamination, what really worries Beijing is the thought of millions of refugees pouring over the border seeking shelter from a nuclear storm. Not to mention the terrible human and economic cost of shattered neighbours.

The constant refrain from Mr Trump and Malcolm Turnbull for China to do more and do it now could soon become counterproductive. Beijing’s influence on North Korea’s leadership is often overstated.

Its troublesome neighbour has repeatedly embarrassed China by testing bombs or missiles at an inopportune moment. This latest test happened at the opening of a major BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) conference held in China and hosted by President Xi Jinping.

Not only was his thunder stolen, he and guest Vladimir Putin were forced to issue a joint statement condemning the test but urging a negotiated solution. Mr Trump underlined that via a tweet, saying: “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”

For his part, the US leader has wedged himself with rhetoric — it was only a couple of days ago he said the time for talking was over. But what does that leave?

The US military will have its plans ready, just in case. And Mr Trump is the only person with power to order what would be the destruction of North Korea. Is he really contemplating the death of millions, the ruin of cites on both sides of the 38th parallel?

Only if North Korea crosses his red lines. Do they exist in the seas off Guam, Hawaii, or the West coast of the mainland itself?

Surely Mr Kim and his predecessors have not come all this way to self-destruct. After all, these bombs and missiles are supposed to protect, not trigger an end game conflict. No party to this conundrum wants this to happen.

But the scene is set, the main players less than predictable and the talk tough. North Korea will never willingly trade away its newfound military clout, it is seen as vital for survival, but successive US presidents have made it clear they will never live with a nuclear armed and able North Korea.

It is a country that revels in regular threats to wipe out entire US cities. It is no longer trash talk that can be ignored and no-one, it seems, has a plausible answer.

One commentator suggested arming both South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons to act as a foil to the North. That would mean five countries in the region with the ability to erase entire cities from the planet.

Our once relatively safe and increasingly prosperous neighbourhood is taking a serious turn for the worse. Only two people on the planet can change all that, and neither is showing signs there is a safe way out.

Asked by a reporter if the US would attack North Korea, Mr Trump said: “We’ll see.”

September 4, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Greens warn Labor not to do clean energy deal that protects coal power

Guardian, Katherine Murphy, 4 Sept 17,  Opposition told to be wary of doing a Finkel review deal with the Coalition that would prolong the life of coal plants The Greens are attempting to warn Labor off doing a deal with the Turnbull government on a new clean energy target, saying a Finkel handshake could trigger a “valley of death” for short-term investment in renewables, and lock in coal, rather than stranding it.

With parliament due to resume on Monday, and with the Turnbull government inching closer to finally resolving and outlining its energy policy, the Greens climate change spokesman, Adam Bandt, will bring forward a bill to prolong and expand the existing renewable energy target scheme.

While the Bandt bill won’t win parliamentary support, in political terms, it is a clear shot across Labor’s bow as the opposition begins to assess whether or not to sign on to the clean energy target – in the event the Coalition overcomes its internal brawl, and proposes one…….

September 4, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment