Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear catastrophe – fast but avoidable. Climate change -slow, inexorable

Former Defense Secretary Compares Climate Change To Nuclear War, Forbes, Jeff McMahon, 9 Dec 18, There are two existential catastrophes threatening the world, former Defense Secretary William Perry said. One is quick but avoidable, while the other is slowly unfolding.“Our planet today faces two existential dangers,” Perry said at Stanford University, where he now serves as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. “One of them is nuclear war—nuclear catastrophe—and the other is a climate catastrophe.

The nuclear catastrophe could happen next month, next year, ten years from now or if we’re lucky, never. But if it happens it happens all at once. On the other hand the climate-change catastrophe is on a slow roll. It is happening. It’s happening every month, every year. It’s getting worse…….

December 10, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change now brings bushfires to Australia’s Northern rainforests

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | 2 Comments

Increased risk of bushfires in Tasmania

Growth spurt fuels ‘normal’ bushfire riskFire danger Rapid vegetation growth during Tasmania’s recent spate of wet and warm weather could pose an added bushfire risk for property owners, the Tasmania Fire Service says….(subscribers only)

December 10, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge

 Guardian, Jonathan Wattsand Ben Doherty, Mon 10 Dec 2018 , Move shocks delegates at UN conference as ministers fly in for final week of climate talks The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C.

After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of high-level discussions.

It has also raised fears among scientists that the US president, Donald Trump, is going from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively undermining them alongside a coalition of climate deniers.

Two months ago, representatives from the world’s governments hugged after agreeing on the 1.5C report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commissioned to spell out the dire consequences should that level of warming be exceeded and how it can be avoided.

Reaching a global consensus was a painstaking process involving thousands of scientists sifting through years of research and diplomats working through the night to ensure the wording was acceptable to all nations.

But when it was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on Saturday, the four oil allies – with Saudi Arabia as the most obdurate – rejected a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they said it should merely be “noted”, which would make it much easier for governments to ignore. The motion has not yet been able to pass as a result of the lack of consensus.

t opened up a rift at the talks that will be hard to close in the coming five days. During the plenary, the EU, a bloc of the 47 least developed countries, as well as African and Latin and South American nations, all spoke in favour of the report. Several denounced the four countries trying to dilute its importance. ………

Scientists were also outraged. “It is troubling. Saudi Arabia has always had bad behaviour in climate talks, but it could be overruled when it was alone or just with Kuwait. That it has now been joined by the US and Russia is much more dangerous,” said Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy in the Union of Concerned Scientists….

Ministers have only five days to establish a rulebook for the Paris agreement. A wild card is the role of the host nation, Poland – the most coal-dependant nation in Europe – which will chair the final week of the meeting………

As well as acceptance of the report, there are several other potential fights brewing regarding transparency rules for reporting emissions and proposals for wealthy high emitters to provide financial support to poorer nations struggling to adapt.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Electric cars, and the hazards of rare earths used in them

The electric-car revolution is here, but is that a good thing for the environment? ABC ,  By environment reporter Nick Kilvert for Life Matters 8 Dec18 “……..Rare earth metals like neodymium are often used in the batteries and magnets of electric cars, but there’s a catch, according to geologist Carl Spandler from JCU.

“There’s an association with rare earth ores with uranium and thorium, and they’re radioactive,” Associate Professor Spandler said.

Rare earth deposits are often found alongside uranium and thorium, meaning when you mine one, you get both.

In 2011, Mitsubishi spent $100 million on a quiet clean-up of a rare earth plant run by subsidiary company Mitsubishi Chemical near the villages of Ipoh and Papan in Malaysia.

From the time the plant opened in 1982, locals complained of eye-watering smoke and foul odour, and as time went on, villagers say they saw increased birth defects and leukemia.

Mitsubishi eventually removed more than 11,000 truckloads of radioactive material from the site, contaminated with thorium.

Despite the name, rare earths actually aren’t very rare at all, and there are significant deposits in Australia.

Australian company Lynas mines rare earths at its Mount Weld site in south-eastern Western Australia.

But the ore is shipped to Malaysia for processing where locals, whose limited experience with the rare-earth metals industry hasn’t been good, are in staunch opposition.

This week, Malaysia set new conditions on the Lynas plant, including that they must remove all radioactive by-products produced at the refinery, from Malaysia.

Some mining in China also has a poor environmental and social track record, according to Dr Spandler.

“They had small-scale operators just strip mining, but they’ve cut down on that quite a bit now because it was really doing a lot of damage to the environment.”

But despite the risks, radioactivity in rare earths is probably not such a big issue for Australian mines like Lynas, according to Dr Spandler.

“The mining companies are very well aware of [the radioactivity issues]. They’re obviously under strict regulations that they’ve got to control the radioactivity of their waste material and have a proper plan in place for how they deal with that waste,” he said.

“All of the [Australian] projects that are in the pipeline or up and coming now, they have fairly low levels of uranium and thorium, so they’re fairly manageable.”……

December 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, rare earths | Leave a comment

Northern Territory – legal case over climate change

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Trump wants the Paris climate accord to be scrapped

December 10, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fossil nations sideline science at Katowice, even as emissions rise and warming accelerates — RenewEconomy

In a deadly diplomatic strike, big oil and gas nations took a key scientific report out of the Katowice text, replacing it with an ambiguous formulation that merely notes its existence. The post Fossil nations sideline science at Katowice, even as emissions rise and warming accelerates appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Fossil nations sideline science at Katowice, even as emissions rise and warming accelerates — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IPCC says coal must go in urgent race to limit global warming — RenewEconomy

It’s over to the Morrison government, as IPCC warns of increasing urgency of emissions reduction task, and of the “very, very substantial” cut in coal use essential to this.

via IPCC says coal must go in urgent race to limit global warming — RenewEconomy

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s time: why Labor must join the global push to outlaw nuclear weapons Robert Tickner, 10 December 2018 The key political players and decision makers of the Australian Labor Party are about to gather in Adelaide for their 48th national conference from next Sunday. They will consider Labor’s stand on a humanitarian issue that has been the focus of the party’s ideals and aspirations for decades. Will it back a new global move to outlaw nuclear weapons?

Support for signing and ratifying the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has already been endorsed by 78 per cent of members of the parliamentary Labor Party. They include national president Wayne Swan, deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, Tony Burke, Mark Dreyfus, Mike Kelly, Joel Fitzgibbon, Linda Burney, Catherine King, Brendan O’Connor, Anthony Albanese and Patrick Dodson. More than 20 leading trade unions have joined the ACTU in this cause. Continue reading

December 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Students lead anti-Adani protests, vow to remove Liberal Party from power

Stop Adani protesters gather in cities, take aim at Scott Morrison’s activism comments, ABC News, 9 Dec 18 By Kevin Nguyen Student activists who felt the Prime Minister was condescending last week over climate issues have vowed to remove the Liberal Party from power — and keep it out — as long as it maintains its current policies.

Key points:

  • A national survey showed a majority of respondents supported student protests on climate change
  • Rallies took place in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns
  • Junior activists said the Prime Minister’s comments compelled them to march

Thousands of protesters gathered in capital cities on the east coast on Saturday in a coordinated march against Indian energy giant Adani’s Carmichael mine and rail project.

At the end of last month, Adani announced the scaled-back $2 billion controversial coal mine in the Galilee Basin would go ahead and would be 100 per cent self-financed, with work starting before Christmas.

While the attendees at the rally were diverse, it was school-aged students who were leading the crowds.

“It’s awful to see our leader feels like we shouldn’t have opinions and we shouldn’t care and they shouldn’t listen to us,” 14-year-old Jean Hinchliffe said in response to Mr Morrison’s calls last week for “less activism in schools”.

“It’s just atrocious. As students we are very informed and very educated and that’s why we’re taking action.

“We’re fighting for our own futures.”………

PM’s comments galvanised students

Like Jean, many young students who appeared at the rallies on Saturday were part of the thousands of Australian students who defied Scott Morrison’s call to stay in school.

While school-aged students will not be eligible to vote in next year’s federal and state elections, they are becoming the face of the Stop Adani and climate strike movements determined to make it a persistent election issue.

Daisy Jeffrey, 16, from Conservatorium High School in Sydney, said she was interested in a future in politics and Mr Morrison’s comments had galvanised her, and dozens of her peers, to take to the streets.

“It wasn’t disheartening, it made us more angry and more determined to go out on the streets,” Daisy said.

In addition to Sydney, rallies were held in Brisbane, Melbourne and Cairns.

n Melbourne, hundreds of people sat down in the middle of the busy Flinders Street intersection, blocking traffic in a bid to draw attention to their cause………

December 10, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The choice of Maralinga as nuclear bomb site – and the effects on Aboriginal people

Aboriginal people were still living close to the test sites and were told nothing about radiation. 

‘High rates of cancer were eventually documented in the 16,000 test workers, but no studies were done on Aboriginal people and others living in areas of fallout. It’s been called the cancer capital of Australia.’

Although many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their land, more than a thousand were directly affected by the bombs.

Vomiting, skin rashes, diarrhoea, fevers and, later, blood diseases and cancer were among the common conditions caused by the testing.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history, reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cost of rehabilitating Ranger uranium mine

World Nuclear News 7th Dec 2018 The estimated rehabilitation costs for the Ranger Project Area inAustralia’s Northern Territory have increased from AUD512 million (USD370
million) to AUD808 million, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has
announced. The estimate is based on preliminary findings from a feasibility
study which will be finalised in early 2019.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Don’t Nuke the Climate is at the COP talks in Poland.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Lynas’s problem of radioactive wastes – might send them to Australia?

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment