Australian news, and some related international items

“Terrorists don’t arm themselves with bananas” – busting the nuclear lobby’s dishonest spin.

“The more the nuclear industry claims eating plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine and other fuel and fission products is OK because bananas exist and because the potassium is a needed nutrient, the more I consider them to be blatant liars.”

The Banana Equivalent Dose of catastrophic nuclear accidents, Jim Green, Online Opinion, 20 December 2017,

The ‘Nuclear for Climate’ lobby group recently attended the United Nations’ COP23 climate conference armed with bananas, in order to make specious comparisons between radiation exposures from eating bananas and routine emissions from nuclear power plants. Continue reading

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate refugees – this humanitarian disaster is already upon the world

governments and organizations such as the United Nations should consider modifying international law to provide legal status to environmental refugees and establish protections and rights for them.

The scale of this challenge is unlike anything humanity has ever faced

Climate change will displace millions in coming decades. Nations should prepare now to help them  The Conversation, Gulrez Shah Azhar Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School, 20 Dec 17, Wildfires tearing across Southern California have forced thousands of residents to evacuate from their homes. Even more people fled ahead of the hurricanes that slammed into Texas and Florida earlier this year, jamming highways and filling hotels. A viral social media post showed a flight-radar picture of people trying to escape Florida and posed a provocative question: What if the adjoining states were countries and didn’t grant escaping migrants refuge?

By the middle of this century, experts estimate that climate change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million people. If this group formed a country, it would be the fourth-largest in the world, with a population nearly as large as that of the United States. Continue reading

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull’s silence on the Nobel Peace Prize win – he is an international embarrassment

PM silent on Nobel prize when world needs him to speak up, PETER BOYER, Mercury, Malcolm Turnbull is rarely stuck for words, but the award of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to an organisation founded in Australia has left him speechless.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Taxpayers Crutches for the Nuclear Industry – Australian Scientific and Nuclear Research Organisation(ANSTO) and Search Results Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS)

Paul Waldon to Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 20 Dec 17 

DIIS, and ANSTO are nothing short of a crutch, supporting a dying industry and its radioactive waste producing machines. The DIIS agenda to change the boundaries for the eligibility to legally and morally vote on the program to abandon radioactive waste in a community of unwilling people not only show “NO” regard for such people but the hypocrisy when they accept a nomination for a site from a former politician who doesn’t reside in such area. This agenda to rescind voting rights from people who are impacted is reminiscing of a dictatorship, and should be the subject of a coup.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | 1 Comment

Netherlands waking up to the huge cost of running nuclear research reactor (like the one at Lucas Heights)

Updating and cleaning up Dutch nuclear industry could cost state €400m Updating the Netherlands nuclear industry could cost the state up to €400m, according to a review by four senior civil servants and quoted in Tuesday’s Volkskrant. Officials from the economic affairs, health, environment and finance ministries were asked to assess the cost of the clean-up and update by previous health minister Edith Schippers.

They say the biggest financial hit will come from demolishing the Dodewaard nuclear power station which was shut down in 1997. The government has insisted until now that the bill is paid by the power station’s shareholders, which include Vattenfall, the Volkskrant points out. However, the report indicates civil servants now assume the shareholders will default and put the cost of that project to the state at up to €200m.

A further €100m will be needed to deal with nuclear waste created at the Petten reactor – which makes medical isotopes. That waste is currently stored above ground near the Borselle nuclear power station and the state has paid €200m towards disposing of Petten’s waste over the past 20 years, the report says. In addition, the officials say that a ‘rough estimate’ of €60m to €100m will be needed to build a new reactor at Petten – another issue which the state has always assumed will be privately funded.

Confidential The Volkskrant says the report is notable because it is virtually identical to one sent to parliament in July, although that report did not contain the financial details. At the time, a finance ministry spokesman told the paper the figures were confidential. However, the paper has now been published on the website containing all the documents used during the formation of the current government and was spotted by anti-nuclear power group Laka. Laka spokesman Dirk Bannink said the report shows that the nuclear industry cannot exist without state support. ‘The government has to step in every time,’ he said.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

America recognises terrorism risk of nuclear research reactors (like the one at Lucas Heights)

FAA names seven nuclear research labs as no-drone zones  Drones are now prohibited from flying within 400 feet of the facilities.Engadget  Mariella Moon@mariella_moon  20 Dec 17  The FAA has granted DOE’s request to make seven of its facilities no-drone zones — and they’re all nuclear research laboratories. Starting on December 29th, you can no longer fly your UAVs within 400 feet of Hanford Site in Franklin County Washington, Pantex Site in Panhandle Texas, Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Idaho National Laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken South Carolina, Y-12 National Security Site in Oak Ridge Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Some of them are no longer operational — the Hanford site where plutonium was produced for the nuclear bomb detonated over Nagasaki, for instance, is now mostly decommissioned — but some are still active……

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Radium Girls

The legacy of the Radium Girls lives on through the ripples that their deaths created in labor law and our scientific understanding of the effects of radioactivity.
“Almost everything we know about radiation inside the human body, we owe to them,”
Radium Girls: The dark times of luminous watches

Jacopo Prisco, CNN  20th December 2017  A century ago, glow-in-the-dark watches were an irresistible novelty. The dials, covered in a special luminous paint, shone all the time and didn’t require charging in sunlight. It looked like magic.
One of the first factories to produce these watches opened in New Jersey in 1916. It hired about 70 women, the first of thousands to be employed in many such factories in the United States. It was a well-paid, glamorous job.
For the delicate task of applying the paint to the tiny dials, the women were instructed to point the brushes with their lips. But the paint made the watches glow because it contained radium, a radioactive element discovered less than 20 years earlier, its properties not yet fully understood. The women were ingesting it with nearly every brushstroke.
They became known as the “Radium Girls.”.

Continue reading

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian government’s hugely disappointing  Climate Policy Review 

(picture at left – apologies to frogs – there is no truth in the story that they will stay in heating water)

The federal Climate Policy Review: a recipe for business as usual  The Conversation The federal government’s newly released Climate Policy Review is hugely disappointing, but far from surprising. It does not depart from what the Turnbull government has been saying for some time: it plans to loosen compliance obligations for emissions-intensive companies even further, reintroduce international carbon offsets, and implement the planned National Energy Guarantee. Continue reading

December 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

We need to change the culture of Christmas

No real gift in giving: culture of Christmas must change Brisbane Times 19 Dec 17 Christmas, we’re assured, brings out our best selves. We’re full of goodwill to all men (and women). We get together with family and friends – even those we don’t get on with – eat and drink and give each other presents.

We make an effort for the kiddies. Some of us even get a good feeling out of helping ensure the homeless get a decent feed on the day………

there’s a darker, less charitable, more Scrooge-like interpretation of what Christmas has become since A Christmas Carol.

Under the influence of more than a century of relentless advertising and commercialisation – including the soft-drink-company-created Santa – its original significance as a religious holy-day has been submerged beneath an orgy of consumerism, materialism and over-indulgence.

We rush from shop to shop, silently cursing those of our rellos who are hard to buy for. We attend party after party, stuffing ourselves with food and drinking more than we should.

All those children who can’t wait to get up early on Christmas morning and tear open their small mountain of presents are being groomed as the next generation of consumerists. Next, try the joys of retail therapy, sonny.

But the survey also reveals a (growing?) minority of respondents who don’t enjoy the indulgence and wastefulness of Christmas.

A fifth of respondents – more males than females – don’t like buying gifts for people at Christmas. Almost a third expect to get gifts they won’t use and 42 per cent – far more males and females – would prefer others not to buy them gifts…….

Rich people like us need to reduce our demands on the environment to make room for the poorer people of the world to lift their material standard of living without our joint efforts wrecking the planet.

This doesn’t require us to accept a significantly lower standard of living, just move to an economy where our energy comes from renewable sources and our use of natural resources – renewable and non-renewable – is much less profligate.

This is the thinking behind the book Curing Affluenza, by the Australia Institute’s chief economist – and instigator of the survey – Dr Richard Denniss……

the first thing we need is a shift in the culture that makes more of us more conscious of the damage our everyday consumption is doing to the environment. That putting out the recycling once a week ain’t enough.We could start by changing the culture of Christmas.

December 20, 2017 Posted by | art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Planet Ark introduces their  12 DOs (and don’ts) of Christmas

Planet Ark declares war on festive waste Jessica Willard

December 20, 2017 Posted by | art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Labor and Greens slam Coalition climate review

Guardian, Eleanor Ainge Roy, 20 Dec 17In the shadow of a cabinet reshuffle yesterday, the government released a long-anticipated review of its climate policies which foreshadows loosening the current safeguard mechanism for pollution levels.

Labor and the Greens blasted the new annual emissions projections, which predict Australia will increase its emissions all the way to 2030 and beyond, and called the Coalition’s action on climate change woefully inadequate. “When you look at those numbers you really do start to understand why [the government] would sneak them out, because they are a shocking set of numbers,” the shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, said.

Butler also condemned the permissive signal on the safeguards mechanism in the review, as did the Greens’ climate spokesman, Adam Bandt, who noted the government wanted to weaken its “flawed” emissions reduction fund by allowing companies’ pollution baselines to be increased. “The data is devastating and the policy review is a travesty,” Bandt said. “Pollution is going up, we won’t meet even our paltry Paris targets and the government’s only plan is to make matters worse by allowing companies to buy dodgy permits from pig farms in China instead of cutting Australia’s emissions.”…..

December 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Anti-Adani activists set their sights on ALP

After Downer’s withdrawal, anti-Adani activists set their sights on ALP
‘With mining services company Downer pulling out of the Adani coal mine development,
activists now say they’ll turn their pressure tactics on the ALP at a state and federal level.’
~ Andrew Tate  Dec 18, 2017

‘Indian company Adani maintains it will now go it alone
to build and run its planned coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin
after cancelling a conditional $2.6 billion contract with Downer.

‘Galilee Blockade activists have spent much of this year pressuring Downer
to withdraw its support for the huge project and the final blow came with
the recent Queensland government veto of a $1 billion Commonwealth loan. …

December 20, 2017 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Adani struggles to get funding for coal megamine, ends $2bn deal to outsource project

Adani scraps $2bn deal to outsource Carmichael coalmine operation
Decision to end Downer EDI agreement follows Palaszczuk government’s blocking of federal loan for the Queensland project, Guardian, 19 Dec  17
Adani has blamed the Queensland government’s decision to kill off a taxpayer-funded loan for its decision to ditch a $2 billion agreement with a major contractor.

But the Indian miner says it remains committed to building its controversial Carmichael coalmine and the decision to part ways with Downer EDI has no bearing on that.

Adani had intended to outsource the operation of its Carmichael mine to Downer under an agreement that was worth $2bn at the time of its announcement in 2014, but now says it will run the mine itself.

It made pointed references to the Palaszczuk government’s loan veto and the need to keep production costs down in announcing the “mutual” split with Downer……

Anti-Adani protesters, who have targeted Downer over its involvement in the project, say it’s a welcome blow.

“Downer walking away from Adani is the biggest nail in the coffin for the Carmichael mine thus far. Adani are unlikely to find another Australian company willing to risk building and operating such a controversial mine,” Galilee Blockade spokesman Ben Pennings said.

“Adani have never operated a mine of this scale and have absolutely no experience operating mines in Australia.”

The very first act of Queensland’s newly re-elected Labor government was to make good on its election promise to veto a loan to Adani of up to $1bn from the federal Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund (Naif).

The government has said it backs the mine and wants the jobs it will create, but also says the project must be viable without taxpayer funds, including federal funds.

Adani is yet to secure funding for mine. Earlier this month, Chinese lenders ruled out providing finance, joining Australia’s big four banks in avoiding the controversial project……..

December 20, 2017 Posted by | business, Queensland | Leave a comment

BHP to exit World Coal Association over differences in climate and energy policy.

BHP Billiton breaks ties with World Coal Association over climate change, energy policy differences

AAPBHP Billiton will remain a member of the Minerals Council of Australia for now but has decided to exit the World Coal Association over differences in climate and energy policy.

The stance follows a push by BHP investors in September for the company to review its relationship with industry bodies advocating “obstructive or misleading” policy positions on climate change and energy.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a not-for profit association, filed a resolution at BHP’s annual general meeting seeking to end the Minerals Council membership, which attracted about 9 per cent of votes.

In a report published on Tuesday, BHP said a review of 21 industry association memberships showed it held materially different positions over climate and energy policy with three lobby groups — the Minerals Council, the US Chamber of Commerce and the World Coal Association.

Key among the issues is the Minerals Councils’ push for energy policy that prioritises costs and reliability over emissions reduction, and encouraging coal power plant development over other sources.

Despite this, BHP said it has decided to remain with the Minerals Council for now, given the high level of benefit it derives from the membership.

It will, however, ask the Minerals Council to refrain from policy advocacy in these areas, and has threatened to review membership in 12 months time if the lobby group does not agree.

Given the scale of its operations in Australia, BHP is the biggest funding source for the Minerals Council. The miner said it has decided to exit the World Coal Association, given the differences and the narrower activities that benefit the company.

BHP said it will discuss the nature of its policy differences with the US Chamber of Commerce, prior to taking a final decision by the end of March 2018.

Responding to BHP’s decision, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility executive director Brynn O’Brien said it is extraordinary that the world’s biggest miner has signalled an intention to exit the world’s peak coal lobby.

“This is a message that even organisations, like BHP, with large coal assets, do not value aggressive anti-climate lobbying,” he said.

“However, BHP’s equivocation in relation to membership of the MCA points to the highly charged environment in which climate policy is made in Australia.”

December 20, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

$30 million for farmers to manage on farm energy — RenewEconomy

The Andrews Labor Government will invest $30 million to help Victoria’s farmers manage energy costs through improved efficiency and new technology.

via $30 million for farmers to manage on farm energy — RenewEconomy

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment