Australian news, and some related international items

Australia in the firing line as climate change hits the planet

It is sad to see that Australia, the country that could be the leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency, is instead the laggard.  Among the wealthy nations that could take action, Australia’s governments, with the exception of the Gillard govt (2010-2013), have refused to act. .

While it might be a reality that coal mines are being started up in other parts of the planet, and that if Australia shut down its coal mines, the global impact might not be huge, there would still be quite an impact.

Meanwhile, a rich country like Australia looks very bad, internationally, as our government lies about our greenhouse emissions, and continues to promote coal, while trying to suppress renewables. As to energy efficiency –  nobody seems to be mentioning that –  yet it can be an enormous component of climate change action. Australia hypocritically does little to help Pacific neighbours, threatened by sea level rise.

Australia is an international climate change disgrace.

And, even sadder –  Australia is the most vulnerable of developed countries, to the ravages of global warming.  When those global warming chickens come home to roost, will other countries feel like helping us?

Australia’s traumas could set off even this summer – with bushfires.   And still our leaders do not care about global warming, do not care about joining in international action against it.


October 9, 2018 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Scott Morrison resuscitates the nightmare dream of the nuclear chain in Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says nuclear would be considered if the investment case stacks up, Daniel Wills, State Political Editor, The Advertiser  October 8, 2018

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison says he is willing to do “whatever it takes” to bring down power bills, and would consider going nuclear if he was convinced it made economic sense.

Mr Morrison has opened a new flank in the energy battle by saying he was open-minded about nuclear, a move South Australia’s former Labor premier Jay Weatherill also once entertained.

Mr Morrison told 2GB radio in Sydney he would overturn a legal ban on building nuclear reactors in Australia if he believed it would put downward pressure on power prices.

Mr Morrison said he would do “whatever it takes” to make electricity cheaper, and have no issues allowing nuclear reactors to be built if it would make lower household bills.

But he warned the investment case to build a nuclear reactor did not “stack up”.

SA’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, called by Mr Weatherill and completed in 2016, was arguably the most comprehensive examination of the matter undertaken in Australia.

Its strongest recommendation was to pursue construction of a high-level dump for international waste, but the commission also suggested national bans on nuclear be loosened.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would overturn the ban on building nuclear reactors if he believed it would bring down power prices. File image.

It concluded that nuclear power did not make sense in SA because of the state’s relatively low energy demand, and starting from scratch meant a delay until at least 2030 to build a facility.

“This allows 14 years for establishing regulatory systems and expertise, undertaking a detailed assessment of the nuclear supply chain before pre-licensing activities, licensing, project development and construction for a large plant,” the report stated.

“This is an ambitious time frame, but the commission considers it reasonable if there were an imperative.”

It said the economic case for a nuclear plant would strengthen if governments put in place aggressive policies to cut carbon emissions in a bid to stave off catastrophic climate change.

“The potential viability of a nuclear power plant in SA improved under more stringent carbon policies, but remained unviable even under the strong carbon price scenario,” the report found. Former prime minister Tony Abbott last month called for an end to the nuclear ban.

The push to revive the nuclear debate comes after Mr Morrison declared dead the national energy guarantee policy of his predecessor.

Opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler has held out the prospect of Labor reviving the policy in government after industry consultation.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said: “At the same time as the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster transforms into a massive solar farm, Morrison thinks it’s time to take Australia nuclear. You’ve got to be kidding”.

October 9, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Climate apocalypse is heading, unless the world takes drastic action

Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, with thermal and coking coal shipments last year totalling 382 million tonnes.

The findings of the report are at odds with the Morrison government’s insistence that coal will play an essential role in the nation’s economic future.

For the first time in a IPCC report, the authors included social and economic impacts. That marked “the end of magical thinking” that sustainable development goals and poverty reduction could be divorced from climate action.

“If governments fail to drastically and urgently reduce emissions, they are knowingly contributing to the dangers of a world that is at least 1.5 degrees warmer,” Tessa Khan, co-director of the Climate Litigation Network.

“This has clear legal consequences and governments will inevitably be held accountable for knowingly putting people in harm’s way,” Ms Khan said, noting citizens in the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Colombia, the US and New Zealand have already taken their governments to court.

“This litigation is only just picking up speed.”

‘Next decade critical’: Perils mount at 1.5 degrees of warming, says IPCC , Sydney Morning Herald,  By Peter Hannam & Nicole Hasham 8 October 2018 The amount of coal and other fossil fuels the world can burn without unleashing dangerous climate change that will undermine the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people and all but wipe out the Great Barrier Reef is “very small”, according to a major climate report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on a 1.5-degree hotter planet, released on Monday, said limiting warming to that amount remains possible, but only with “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”……..

We’re currently heading towards about 3 degrees or 4 degrees of warming by 2100,” said Mark Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University and one of the review’s editors.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is not impossible but would actually require major transitions in many aspects of society, and to do those transitions, the next 10 years are critical.”

Many of those transitions will mean curbing if not halting entirely the release of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, land-clearing and other human activities.

Average temperature rises mask extreme events. Temperatures of hot days are forecast to increase three degrees in a 1.5 degree warmer world, and by four degrees if mean temperatures rise by 2 degrees.

Carbon budget  Continue reading

October 9, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Under the mask of “Transparency”, Trump government suppresses reputable science about radiation

Yes, radiation is bad for you. The EPA’s ‘transparency rule’ would be even worse.  The Trump administration wants to strangle access to reputable science. By Audra J. Wolfe, 8 Oct 18   Audra J. Wolfe is a Philadelphia-based writer, editor, and historian. She is the author of Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science.

Last Tuesday, a headline from the Associated Press sparked outrage in the ordinarily quiet world of science policy. The Environmental Protection Agency, the story suggested, was considering relaxing guidelines for low-dose ionizing radiation, on the theory that “a bit of radiation may be good for you.” Within hours, the AP had issued a correction. As it turned out, the EPA was not, after all, endorsing hormesis, the theory that small doses of toxic chemicals might help the body, much like sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D.

Instead, the EPA was doing something much scarier: It was holding hearings on the “Transparency Rule,” which would restrict the agency to using studies that make a complete set of their underlying data and models publicly available. The rule is similar to an “Open Science” order issued by the Interior Department last month, and incorporates language from the HONEST Act, a bill that passed in the House in 2017 but later stalled in the Senate. The HONEST Act originally required that scientific studies provide enough data that an independent party could replicate the experiment — which is simply not realistic for large-scale longitudinal studies.

Although these rules cite the need to base regulatory policy on the “best available science,” make no mistake: They aim to strangle access to reputable studies.

The Transparency Rule continues the Trump administration’s pattern of anti-science policies. The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy is a ghost town, with most of the major positions, including the director’s post, vacant since January 2017. Agencies and departments across the board, including the State Department and the Agriculture Department, are dropping their science advisers and bleeding scientific staff. It’s getting harder and harder for federal rulemakers to access expertise.

Understanding what’s wrong with “transparency,” at least as defined by these policies, requires a closer look at how scientists work. Let’s say you’re trying to understand the health effects of a one-time, accidental release of a toxic chemical. This incident might be epidemiologists’ only chance to investigate how this particular chemical interacts with both the air and the humans who breathe it, at varying doses, over a period of time. No matter how careful your approach, your study would fall short of the replicability standard.

You wouldn’t have baseline health information for the specific people who happened to be in the area. You might not have information on which residents had air filtration systems installed in their homes, or which residents were working outside when the incident took place. Your early results would, by definition, reflect only short-term health outcomes, rather than long-term effects. And you couldn’t replicate the study (with better controls) without endangering the health of thousands of people. In such cases, scientists have to extrapolate from existing, sometimes imperfect, data to protect the public.

Epidemiologists have community standards, including peer review, to evaluate these kinds of studies. A careful, peer-reviewed study of this hypothetical incident might well represent the “best available science” on this particular chemical. Regulators might rely on this study to establish the permissible levels of this chemical in the air we breathe. But now, let’s also say that this study took place 30 years ago. The leading scientists involved are dead, and no one kept their files. The raw data are, effectively, lost. Should scientists at the EPA be blocked from using the study?

Despite what made last week’s headlines, the EPA’s Oct. 3 hearing went beyond radiation. In fact, its lead witness, University of Massachusetts toxicologist Edward Calabrese, barely mentioned his theory of radiation hormesis. Instead, his testimony argued that the EPA should no longer rely on linear no-threshold (LNT) models for any number of hazards, including toxic chemicals and soil pollutants. In toxicology, LNT models assume that the biological effects of a given substance are directly connected to the amount of the exposure, with no minimum dose required. Radiation protections standards are based on LNT models; so are basic regulations involving ozone, particulate pollution, and chemical exposure.

The original studies asserting a LNT model for low-dose ionizing radiation were conducted in the 1950s. Like our hypothetical epidemiologist investigating a toxic chemical release, the geneticists who tried to understand the biological effects of atomic radiation were working with imperfect data, much of which is no longer available. The concept of a “comprehensive data management policy” simply did not exist in 1955. These particular studies were primarily based on survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Japan. The scientists also extrapolated from high-dose exposure data in fruit flies and mice and from unethical high-dose experiments conducted on humans.

These studies are imperfect, but focusing on their limitations misses the broader scandal. These studies took place during the heyday of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, an era when both the United States and the Soviet Union were pumping the atmosphere full of radioactive nucleotides. Some of the areas near the testing zones received so much radiation that they are still uninhabitable today. The tests coated the entire planet with a scrim of radiation. The Atomic Energy Commission, the agency in charge of the United States’ nuclear weapons program, didn’t even attempt to investigate the potential health effects of this constant, low-dose exposure to ionizing radiation on the world’s population. Studies of low-dose radiation were expensive, inconvenient, and politically risky, potentially jeopardizing the weapons testing program and therefore the United States’ ability to fight the Soviet Union. From the government’s perspective, it was better not to know.

This week, a sensational headline distracted us from a broader crisis. Without government support for research of environmental hazards, the public’s health is left to either the whims of industry researchers, who have a strong incentive to play down their dangers, or to public advocacy groups, which are too easily smeared with charges of anti-industry bias. The “transparency” movement supposedly resolves this crisis of authority by giving the public access to the underlying data on which science is based, but it ignores the power dynamics that determine which research questions get asked, and why and how they’re answered.

In the past, Americans looked to their federal science agencies and science advisers to resolve these sorts of disputes. But a few weeks ago, the EPA announced that it, too, would be eliminating its Office of the Science Adviser. With the science offices empty, who will decide?

There is one bright spot in all of this: On Sept. 28, bipartisan legislation authorized the Energy Department to restart its low-dose radiation research program. But what about the other pollutants that the EPA supposedly regulates? Who will produce the kinds of science deemed acceptable under the “transparency” rule?

“Transparency” has become another way to cultivate institutional ignorance. Americans deserve better from the agencies that are supposed to protect them. In the case of environmental hazards, what you don’t know can hurt you.


October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Renewable energy bringing a new golden age to South Australia

Ships, renewables energise SA as new golden age looms  Hopes of a manufacturing renaissance are being buoyed by warships and confidence in renewable energy after the disaster expected with Holden’s closure failed to eventuate…. (subscribers only}

October 9, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

UN report calls for shift from coal to renewables


Coal’s share of electricity supply should be cut to 2 percent or less.

 Renewables should supply 70 percent to 85 percent of power generation.

Climate Crisis Spurs UN Call for $2.4 Trillion Fossil Fuel Shift, By Reed Landberg, Chisaki Watanabe, and Heesu Lee, October 8, 2018,    

World on track to warm 3 degrees, overshooting 2015 Paris goal

·UN panel releases report on capping warming at 1.5 degrees

The world must invest $2.4 trillion in clean energy every year through 2035 and cut the use of coal-fired power to almost nothing by 2050 to avoid catastrophic damage from climate change, according to scientists convened by the United Nations. Continue reading

October 9, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Report tracks global success of renewable energy — Beyond Nuclear International

Nuclear power is outcompeted everywhere but military argue for its persistence

via Report tracks global success of renewable energy — Beyond Nuclear International

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

White Rock solar farm begins production, completing latest wind-solar hybrid — RenewEconomy

White Rock solar farm begins producing electricity to the main grid, becoming the second wind-solar hybrid facility in the NEM. The post White Rock solar farm begins production, completing latest wind-solar hybrid appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via White Rock solar farm begins production, completing latest wind-solar hybrid — RenewEconomy

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Northern Territory signs PPA with 25MW solar farm, as grid reforms take shape — RenewEconomy

Northern Territory’s largest solar PV project seals a solar off-take deal with NT-owned utility Jacana Energy. The post Northern Territory signs PPA with 25MW solar farm, as grid reforms take shape appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Northern Territory signs PPA with 25MW solar farm, as grid reforms take shape — RenewEconomy

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cost of action on climate change is high – political will is lacking

October 9, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

IPCC Summary omits some of the biggest risks of climate change

The IPCC global warming report spares politicians the worst details, Bob Ward 8 Oct 18   dangers if governments ignore efforts to limit warming to 1.5C are more grave than the summary makes out

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms the enormous wisdom that governments showed in Paris in December 2015, when they agreed to the goal of “pursuing efforts” to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The report’s summary for policymakers paints a sobering picture of the potentially terrible impacts of allowing global mean surface temperature to rise by 2C compared with pre-industrial levels: more extreme weather, sea level rise and ocean acidification, with detrimental effects on wildlife, crops, water availability and human health.

But the policymakers, or at least their aides, should make the effort to read the whole report. Incredibly, the stark summary is still a relatively conservative assessment of the consequences we might face if global warming does exceed 1.5C.

The report is a comprehensive review of the published evidence painstakingly compiled by hundreds of authors and reviewers over the past two and a half years. The summary of the report was approved line by line by governments, including the US, Australia and Saudi Arabia, during long and intensive discussions last week in South Korea.

It is written in matter-of-fact language, but it omits some of the biggest risks of climate change, which are described in the full text.

For instance, the summary indicates that warming of 2C would have very damaging impacts on many parts of the world. But it does not mention the potential for human populations to migrate and be displaced as a result, leading to the possibility of war. Continue reading

October 9, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

To save Barrier Reef, Australia and the rest of the world must virtually eliminate the use of coal for electricity within 22 years

October 9, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

October 8 Energy News — geoharvey

IPCC Report: ¶ “Climate Report: Scientists Urge Deep Rapid Change To Limit Warming” • After three years of research and a week of haggling between scientists and government officials at a meeting in South Korea, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5°C. […]

via October 8 Energy News — geoharvey

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

She fled Tokyo to save her daughter — Beyond Nuclear International

Yoko Shimosawa decries “nuclear assault” by Japanese government

via She fled Tokyo to save her daughter — Beyond Nuclear International

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

S. Korean activists demand Japan not dump Fukushima’s radioactive water into the sea — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

October 8, 2018 SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) — South Korean environmental groups on Monday urged Japan to reverse its recent decision to release radioactive water that has accumulated in the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea after treatment. Korea Radioactive Watch, the Korean Federation For Environmental Movement and other civic groups held a joint news […]

via S. Korean activists demand Japan not dump Fukushima’s radioactive water into the sea — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

October 9, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment