Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The costs -financial, environmental, human, – of plutonium-fuelled space exploration

Australia’s international space agency hype https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/australias-international-space-agency-hype,10876  s the current hype about space travel justified, and what of the human and environmental cost? Noel Wauchope reports.

ENTHUSIASM for space travel has been mounting since Australia hosted the recent International Astronautical Congress (IAC), held in Adelaide in September.

Then there was the announcement that Australia is getting a space agency!

We are informed by space scientist Dr Megan Clarke:

“ … more than 3000 of the world’s top space experts wildly cheered [and] all aspects of Australian society were united on the need for a national agency.” 

In November, the very brilliant and appealing space travel and nuclear power enthusiast, Professor Brian Cox is to tour Australia! Champion astronaut Scott Kelly has just published his exciting bookEndurance: a Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.

Dare anyone throw cold water on all this joy?

Intriguingly, the Australian Government, while proudly hyping up this initiative, has not yet come up with a title for the new agency. However, someone else has and they have set up an elegant and professional-looking website for it: Australian Research and Space Exploration (ARSE).

Let’s start with that most important consideration — money Continue reading

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November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Nuclear fuel waste: Extended Storage at Lucas Heights or target SA?

The proposed Intermediate Level Waste Store is predominantly for ANSTO reactor wastes

Briefer (Nov 2017) by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner   The Federal government has divided Australian community and is compromising safety in proposed import and indefinite above ground storage of ANSTO nuclear wastes in South Australia.

Since April 2016 the Federal government has solely targeted regional communities in SA for a proposed above ground Store to take irradiated Nuclear Fuel Waste (NFW) and long lived Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) from the ANSTO Lucas Heights reactor facility in NSW.

The ARPANSA CEO formally considered this proposed NRWMF Store and stated in May 2015:

“This plan will have the provision for ILW storage above ground for approximately 100 years.”

This nuclear waste storage plan compromises safety by importing long lived reactor waste to SA without any waste disposal capacity or even a program or plan for potential disposal of NFW and ILW. Safety requires these nuclear wastes are isolated from the environment for over 10,000 years.

The proposed 100 year Store in SA for 10,000 year nuclear wastes is a divisive, unsafe and unnecessary plan – given ANSTO’s capacity to retain these nuclear wastes at Lucas Heights.

Federal Contingency options to store Nuclear Fuel Wastes at Lucas Heights: Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

200 killed in collapse at North Korea’s nuclear test site

Hundreds killed at North Korea nuclear base: Reporhttp://www.news.com.au/world/asia/hundreds-killed-at-north-korea-nuclear-base-report/news-story/455c8b425e9fa6df84bb07384f28f6ee  AT LEAST 200 people have reportedly died at Kim Jong-un’s nuclear test site, and there are fears of a radioactive leak. A TUNNEL at an underground North Korea nuclear site has collapsed with up to 200 people killed, according to reports.

The collapse happened at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the northeast of the country on October 10, according to Japan’s TV Asahi.  The disaster has prompted fears of a massive radioactive leak which could spark a Chernobyl- or Fukushima-style disaster, The Sun reported.

A North Korean official said the collapse happened during the construction of an underground tunnel, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports.

Some 100 people are said to have been trapped by the initial tunnel collapse, with a further 100 lost in a second collapse during a rescue operation, Asahi reported.

Lee Eugene, a spokeswoman at South Korea’s unification ministry, said: “We are aware of the report but do not know anything about it.”

The accident is believed to have been caused by Kim Joing-un’s sixth nuclear test which weakened the mountain, according to the report.  It was reported earlier this year that the mountain under which the base is believed to be hidden was at risk of collapsing and leaking radiation into the region.

Experts said if the peak crumbles, clouds of radioactive dust and gas would blanket the region, the South China Morning Post reported.

The Punggye-ri test site is carved deep into the side of Mount Mantap.  Geophysicist Wen Lianxing and his team at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province, said they were “confident” underground detonations were occurring underneath the mountain. Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UN rejects nuclear industry participating in clean energy forum: Ben Heard spits the dummy

THE AUSTRALIAN, 31 Oct 17 The UN has blocked the nuclear industry from participating in an international forum on clean energy….

The London-based World Nuclear Association was originally accepted by the organisers of next month’s Sustainable Innovation Forum as a £40,000 ($68,338) gold sponsor, but the deal was rescinded a week later after intervention by the UN environment program.

The organisers then offered a watered-down sponsorship that would include no branding presence, but that deal was also vetoed by UNEP………

Next month’s forum takes place on the sidelines of the UN’s COP 23 climate change conference, where government representatives from around the world will meet to discuss progress towards meeting international emission-reduction targets.

The Sustainable Innovation Forum will be hosted in the purpose-built Climate Action Dome, which itself will be powered by energy generated using food waste from the conference.

Ben Heard, an energy researcher [ ed. more correctly a nuclear promoter] with the University of Adelaide and an advocate for the climate benefits of nuclear energy, described the UN’s intervention as “frightening” and an example of “outright prejudice”. “This family of technologies has been the principal source of carbon-free energy for the last four decades. Along with hydro-electricity, they have been the two big hitters that have actually delivered, and you’re running a climate change conference and you won’t let the representatives of that industry through the door,” he said.

“For me it’s gobsmacking to see this. I’m an advocate for this technology on environmental grounds but it struggles, and part of the reason is time after time it faces this kind of institutional bias which means no-one can even have a conversation about it.”

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

North Korea: How to start a nuclear war without even trying

 Interpreter,  https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/north-korea-how-start-nuclear-war-without-even-trying   Van Jackson, 1 Nov 17, If effective strategy requires realistic aims, then America is in trouble. US officials have shown themselves to be pathologically overconfident in their ability to achieve political outcomes with military signals, and the outcome they’re trying to achieve is utterly unrealistic.

Imagine if the US flew what North Korea thought were nuclear-capable bombers up near its border, sporadically at first, then once per month. Then twice per month. In parallel, the US starts sending nuclear-capable submarines to port in South Korea. Then it issues warning orders to US Navy surface ships armed with Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (the kind used against Syria in April) to program North Korean targets while patrolling in waters off North Korea’s eastern coast. Then it deploys fifth-generation stealth fighters to Japan in conjunction with the arrival of three aircraft carriers to the Pacific.

What do these military preparations look like?  

Now imagine that the political rhetoric coinciding with all these military moves aims for nothing short of convincing a nuclear North Korea to unilaterally disarm itself. Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Unity in Christian churches: bishops of Townsville speak out against Adani coal megamine

Catholic, Anglican bishops unite in opposition to Adani mega-mine, By Nicole Hasham
Brisbane Times, It may have the Turnbull and Palaszczuk governments firmly in its corner, but the Adani super-mine is facing a formidable new opponent: the Christian faith.

The Catholic and Anglican bishops of Townsville have issued a joint statement to their followers criticising “projected mega-mining developments across Queensland, especially the Galilee Basin”, and accusing politicians and big business of failing to protect the common good.

The bishops’ message puts them head-to-head with Adani, the Indian mining behemoth behind the $16.5 billion Carmichael mine proposed for the Galilee Basin. It also puts them at odds with the local council and state and federal governments, which resoundingly support the project.

Adani has located its regional headquarters in Townsville, and the statement will fuel debate in the already divided community over what would be Australia’s biggest coal mine.

The Right Reverend William Ray of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, and the Most Reverend Timothy Harris of the Catholic Diocese of Townsville, issued the statement to their parishes on Saturday.

They cited Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on the environment in June 2015, in which he said “the Earth, our home, is beginning to look … like an immense pile of filth”.

“We, too, as bishops in north Queensland, have concerns about many global and local issues that are impacting negatively on our environment and which require greater dialogue, examination, prayer and action,” the statement said.

The bishops said human dominion over the planet should be understood as “responsible stewardship”, especially to future generations…..https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/catholic-anglican-bishops-unite-in-opposition-to-adani-megamine-20171030-gzaqxf.html

November 1, 2017 Posted by | Queensland, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Christiana Figueres: climate change is a public health emergency

Climate change isn’t just hurting the planet – it’s a public health emergency https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/31/climate-change-public-health-emergency-doctors-lancet-countdown, Christiana Figueres
Doctors have revealed that millions are already suffering the effects, in the spread of infectious diseases, uneven crop yields and longer allergy seasons

Christiana Figueres is chair of the Lancet Countdown advisory board. When the doctor tells you that your cholesterol is too high, you tend to listen and change your diet. When the world’s climate scientists tell us that temperatures are rising to dangerous levels, we should heed their advice. It’s time to give up climate change, it’s bad for our health.

I’m not talking about the health of our planet or the health of species such as the polar bear, so often associated with climate change – though they are suffering. I’m talking about human health. The health of you, your family, your neighbours – each and every one of us.

A report just published in the Lancet from the specially created Lancet Countdown initiative, reveals just how bad climate change is for public health. The diagnosis reveals that hundreds of millions of people are already suffering the health impacts of climate change. Its insidious creep is being felt in multiple ways: rising temperatures are hastening the spread of infectious diseases; crop yields are becoming uneven and unpredictable, worsening the hunger and malnourishment for some of the most vulnerable people on the planet; allergy seasons are getting longer; and at times it is simply too hot for farmers to work in the fields.

Typhoons and hurricanes, such as Harvey, feed off unnaturally warm waters to deliver more forceful threats to human health, including to life itself. The attribution of climate change as a contributing factor in such events is of course complex. The Lancet report’s analysis – that there has been a 46% increase in extreme weather disasters since 2000 – helps to cut through any confusion.

Then there is the heat, which might be the most widespread and dangerous of all. Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Record high CO2 levels in atmosphere – highest in 3 million years

Global atmospheric CO2 levels hit record high, UN warns that drastic action is needed to meet climate targets set in the Paris agreement, Guardian, Jonathan Watts, 31 Oct 17, The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three million years, the UN has warned.

The new report has raised alarm among scientists and prompted calls for nations to consider more drastic emissions reductions at the upcoming climate negotiations in Bonn.

“Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event,” according to The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the UN weather agency’s annual flagship report.

This acceleration occurred despite a slowdown – and perhaps even a plateauing – of emissions because El Niño intensified droughts and weakened the ability of vegetation to absorb carbon dioxide. As the planet warms, El Niños are expected to become more frequent.

The increase of 3.3 ppm is considerably higher than both the 2.3 ppm rise of the previous 12 months and the average annual increase over the past decade of 2.08ppm. It is also well above the previous big El Niño year of 1998, when the rise was 2.7 ppm……. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/30/global-atmospheric-co2-levels-hit-record-high

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

USA will spend $1.2 trillion on nuclear weapons over next 30 years

US nuclear arsenal to cost $1.2tn over next 30 years, independent CBO report finds https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/31/us-nuclear-arsenal-cost-cbo-report CBO finds total price tag marks 25% increase from previous estimate
Nuclear Posture Review under way and expected by end of the year, Guardian, 
Julian Borger 1 Nov 17, The cost of the US nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years will be over $1.2tn, even before any new weapons ordered by the Trump administration, and is unlikely to be affordable without cuts elsewhere in the defence budget, according to a independent congressional report.

The total price tag marks nearly a 25% increase from previous estimate, taking in the modernisation programme established under the Obama administration, which account for $400bn, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found. The costs would peak in the 2020s and the 2030s.

Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

South Australia’s Whyalla to become a booming renewable energy hub

Whyalla steel city goes green with 1GW of solar and storage, http://reneweconomy.com.au/whyalla-steel-city-goes-green-with-1gw-of-solar-and-storage-92904/ UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has made good on his commitment to transform his newly acquired Australian steel business into a renewable energy powerhouses, announcing massive investments in solar and storage that will knock 40 per cent off his electricity costs.

Gupta said on Monday that he would build 1 gigawatt (1,000MW) of dispatchable renewables in and around Whyalla, where his major steel plant is located. This would comprise huge investments in solar, battery storage, pumped hydro and demand management.

He won’t stop there. Gupta is looking to repeat the dose – although with varying mixes and scale of renewables and storage – to power the company’s steel operations in Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle. He said on Tuesday he wanted these bigger plants to be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy.

The initial development will see a proposed 80MW solar farm at Whyalla expanded to 200MW and completed by the first quarter of 2019.

 This will be accompanied by:

Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | solar, South Australia, storage | Leave a comment

Queensland Government worried about viability of Adani’s $16.5 billion Carmichael mine

Adani could cost my seat: Trad
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has cast doubt on the viability of Adani’s $16.5 billion Carmichael mine, which she concedes her electorate is “very strongly” against.
http://www.afr.com/news/politics/jackie-trad-admits-her-electorate-feels-very-strongly-against-adani-20171030-gzbigv

Queensland election 2017: Coal-fired power station report to embarrass Government
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/state-election-2017/queensland-election-2017-coalfired-power-station-report-to-embarrass-government/news-story/7da7a0c139ef1222cce9bce7a280470c

November 1, 2017 Posted by | politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Don’t fund Adani coal project: Pacific Islanders’ call to Australian government

Pacific Islanders call for Australia not to fund Adani coalmine, Caritas says thousands face threats to their wellbeing, livelihoods and ‘their very existence’ due to rising sea levels, Guardian, Naaman Zhou, 1 Nov 17, Pacific Islanders whose homes face eradication by rising sea levels have called on Australia to not fund the Adani Carmichael coalmine, as a new report reveals the worsening impact of climate change across Oceania.

Residents of the endangered islands have described their forced displacement as like “having your heart ripped out of your chest” as they called on the Australian government to do more to combat climate change.

A report released by international aid group Caritas on Wednesday found that thousands of Pacific people across the region faced “threats to their wellbeing, livelihoods and, in some places, their very existence” due to rising sea levels, king tides and natural disasters brought about by climate change.

n Papua New Guinea, 2,000 households across 35 coastal communities were displaced by coastal erosion over the past year. In Samoa, 60% of the village of Solosolo was relocated to higher ground.

In the Torres Strait, 15 island communities were identified as at risk over the next 50 years.

The mayor of the Torres Straight Island regional council, Fred Gela, described the forcible removals as like having your heart ripped out “because you are told you’re not able to live on your land”.

Erietera Arama resident of Kiribati who works for the Department of Fisheries, said he decided to visit Australia to ask its government to take action.

“We talk about the Adani coalmine,” he said. “That’s a new one. I think it’s not a good idea – it makes the world worse for all of us. It is inconsiderate of other humans on this planet.

“We didn’t think of Australia as a country that would do that. We looked at it as our bigger brother. Proceeding with that new mine is a sad move. We live together in the environment but it’s like they are ignoring us.

“We’re two metres above sea level. With the sea level rise, most of our lands have been taken by coastal erosion. We love our country and we want our children to live there as well, hopefully forever. It’s hard to talk about leaving the place where you belong.”

According to the report’s authors, the impact of coastal erosion and flooding reached “severe” levels in 2016, upgraded from “high” the year before. Climate change also made it “increasingly difficult to maintain the health and integrity” of food and water sources. Water scarcity was deemed a “serious slow-onset problem throughout Oceania”…… https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/01/pacific-islanders-call-for-australia-not-to-fund-adani-coalmine

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

New Zealand’s plans to recognise climate change refugees

New Zealand considers creating climate change refugee visas https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/31/new-zealand-considers-creating-climate-change-refugee-visas   Minister says experimental humanitarian visa category could be introduced for people displaced by rising seas, Guardian, Charles Anderson, 31 Oct 17, New Zealand’s new government is considering creating a visa category to help relocate Pacific peoples displaced by climate change.

The new category would make official the Green party’s pre-election policy which promised 100 visas for those affected by climate change.

As part of the new Labour-led coalition government, the Green party leader James Shaw was given the role of climate change minister.

He told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday that “an experimental humanitarian visa category” could be implemented for people from the Pacific who are displaced by rising seas resulting from climate change.

“It is a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands,” Shaw said. Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian emissions to ‘far exceed’ 2030 Paris pledge

Australian emissions to ‘far exceed’ 2030 Paris pledge as need for action rises: UN  http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/australia-to-far-exceed-2030-paris-climate-pledge-as-need-for-action-rises-un-20171030-gzbiwj.html, Peter Hannam, 31 Oct 17

National pledges to cut carbon emissions fall well short of what’s needed to avoid dangerous climate change, with Australia likely to miss its 2030 commitment by a wide margin, a United Nations body said.

The UN Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap 2017 report found pledges to cut pollution made at the Paris climate summit two years ago are only about one-third of what’s needed to be on a “least-cost pathway” to stopping the worst effects of climate change.

The target is to stop global average temperatures rising two degrees or more above pre-industrial levels. Change on the scale is expected to cause major droughts, food shortages and damaging sea level rise.

The emissions gap to keep with a 1.5-degree goal is 16-19 gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent, while the 2-degree target would need an extra 11.13.5 gigatonnes of CO2-e of cuts by 2030 to be attained, the report said.

“There is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to remain achievable,” the report said.

The positive news is that global emissions have largely flatlined for the past three years, thanks in large part to a plateauing in China. Still, other potent greenhouse gases such as methane are rising, and carbon dioxide emissions could accelerate if global economic growth picks up.

Frank Jotzo, a professor at the Australian National University’s Crawford School and a contributor to the report, said tumbling costs of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies suggest nations could increase their emissions cuts “and it won’t be terribly hard”.

“More climate action and deeper commitments are needed, but it’s eminently possible to achieve [the Paris climate goal] from the economic and technical perspective,” Professor Jotzo said. “It’s the politics that get in the way.” Continue reading

November 1, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017

Emissions Gap Report, http://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-report  [good graphs]Authors: UN Environment, November 17 The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as agreed at the Conference of the Parties in 2015, is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The UN Environment Emissions Gap Report 2017 presents an assessment of current national mitigation efforts and the ambitions countries have presented in their Nationally Determined Contributions, which form the foundation of the Paris Agreement.

The report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information. The governments of countries mentioned specifically in the report have been invited to comment on the specific assessment findings; independent experts have also been invited to review the different chapters.

What’s new in this year’s report?

Update on global greenhouse gas emissions
This year, the Emissions Gap Report includes an assessment of the emissions associated with the Nationally Determined Contributions and current policies of each of the G20 members, including the European Union. This is in addition to presenting an update on global greenhouse gas emissions and national actions to meet the earlier Cancun pledges.

Exploring “negative emission technologies”
This year’s report explores removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as an additional way to mitigate climate change, over and above conventional abatement strategies.

An analysis of global carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industry

The Report includes a new systematic assessment of how various economic sectors can reduce their climate-warming emissions, focusing on the potential eductions from the wide application of already-known and cost-effective technologies.

The role of short-lived climate pollutants

The report describes the opportunities offered by limiting emissions of the so-called short-lived climate pollutants. Reductions of these pollutants will limit the rate of short-term warming, and when sustained and combined with reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, they help to limit long-term warming, which is the ultimate aim of closing the emissions gap.

Phasing out coal

This year’s report includes a detailed assessment of global developments in the coal sector. This also examines the options and barriers for a gradual coal phase-out.

November 1, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment