Australian news, and some related international items

Mark Butler ALP Shadow Minister rules out nuclear power

Excerpt from radio interview



SUBJECT/S: Labor’s $1 billion National Hydrogen Plan, climate change, nuclear power, Liberals plan for new coal.

KELLY: You’re listening to RN Breakfast; our guest is the Shadow Climate and Energy Minister, Mark Butler. Mark Butler, Tanya Constable who is the Chief Executive of the Minerals Council of Australia is today proposing in news.compapers that nuclear energy be allowed to be developed as a zero emissions fuel. She says Australia will only be catching up with the rest of the world, there are new technologies in this area ready to be deployable, they produce zero emissions and thirty other countries around the world use them. Is Labor prepared to exercise or even consider that option?


BUTLER: No, this is not a technology that has any opportunity for Australia. There are legal barriers to it, which we reindorsed at our National Conference just before Christmas as Labor Party policy. Where nuclear power is being explored, new nuclear power plants around the developed world in particular, for example the UK, it is extraordinarily expensive power as well. Rather than focus on these sorts of technologies that really are of no practical use to Australia, we want to focus on renewable energy which is going to bring down emissions, bring down power prices, and power thousands and thousands of jobs.

February 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

We’ve always had floods and bushfires, but climate change is making them worse

Queensland floods: Townsville reels under record water levels as more rain arrives, There are several more days to go in this flood event, Bureau of Meteorology warns, Guardian, 2 Feb 2019

Queensland authorities have said the state’s north was entering “unprecedented territory” as monsoon rains battered the city of Townsville, setting record flood levels and destroying homes.

……..The worst of the conditions were expected over the next two days, and authorities described the next 48 hours as “crucial”. On Friday, Palaszczuk had described the incoming monsoon as a “once in a 100-year” event and Townsville was declared a disaster zone.
……..Schools and businesses in Townsville were to remain shut and thousands of residents had been evacuated to higher ground, AAP reported.

Homes and businesses have been destroyed as flash floods washed through streets, sweeping away cars, equipment and livestock……..

Bushfires threaten homes across Victoria , The Age, By Nicole Precel, 3 February 2019,Out-of-control bushfires threatened homes and lives on Sunday as more than 1000 firefighters battled major blazes across Victoria.Firefighters were stretched to the limit, fighting several large fires throughout the state.

A fire in Hepburn, in central Victoria was the major focus for the day with residents warned at daybreak to evacuate the town.

Two firefighters who were fighting the Hepburn fires were treated for heat exhaustion and over-exertion and were taken to hospital as a precaution.

Elsewhere, as almost 50 new fires sparked, emergency warnings were issued at various times for fires including days-old blazes in Timbarra in Gippsland and Grantville on the Bass Coast……..

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 69 aircraft working “very, very hard” and “effectively”.

The fires were fanned by soaring temperatures, hitting 43.3 degrees in the Mallee, 43.1 degrees in Hopetoun, 42.2 in Mildura, 41.1 at Melbourne Airport and 38.2 in Melbourne’s CBD.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Richard Russell said high winds and thunderstorms were expected throughout the night………..

Tasmania’s fire disaster revealed in satellite images showing the extent of the damage

It’s easy to get warning fatigue, and, with only a handful or properties impacted so far, dismiss the fires as all bark and no bite.

But satellite images reveal the scale of the destruction so far.

The Gell River blaze, in the state’s south-west, was the first to start, ignited by a dry lightning strike in late December.

“It seems really like ancient history,” professor of pyrogeography and fire service at the University of Tasmania David Bowman said.

“It started at the end of last year and escalated in early January, so we’re looking at a fire situation that’s now gone for a full calendar month.”

Images taken by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite on January 3 show what seems, relative to the lakes around it, like a small blackened patch of wilderness……..

“There are multiple major fire events occurring simultaneously, which is extremely challenging for firefighters and fire managers because of the requirement to spread resources and make very difficult prioritising decisions.” …….

“This is definitely a historic event, it’s unprecedented,” Professor Bowman said.

“The area burnt is very substantial, I can barely keep up with the numbers.”

This week the fire service did put a number on it — 187,000 hectares.

At the same time as the Central Plateau fire ramped up, the Tahune fire was also burning out of control.

Of all the fires burning across Tasmania, this one has caused the most displacement, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate from communities in the Huon Valley south of Hobart.

Since last week, firefighters have issued almost daily warnings to residents, cautioning that only those prepared to defend their properties should stay behind.

A satellite image taken on January 30 shows how the fire, having burnt through more than 56,000 hectares, was still sending smoke over towns to its east. …..

February 3, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria | Leave a comment

Climate Change Faster than Expected — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Climate change is occurring faster than expected.

via Climate Change Faster than Expected — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 2 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “PA Needs Clean Energy. Why Are Legislators Stuck On Nuclear?” • Reports say Pennsylvania state legislators will soon introduce bills to provide financial support to the state’s nuclear power plants. The NRDC urges the General Assembly to adopt a real clean energy transition policy and reject nuclear plant subsidizes. [Natural Resources Defense Council] […]

via February 2 Energy News — geoharvey

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate change is back as a big issue in Australian federal politics

Climate change is a burning issue (again) in voters’ minds, Guardian, Katharine Murphy @murpharoo, 2 Feb 19, The Coalition has no choice but to try and fix the self-created disaster that is its climate policy. his piece of backroom intelligence shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the summer we are all still enduring. Record high temperatures, the hottest January on record; storms; floods in some places, droughts in others; mass fish kills in ailing rivers.Climate change is back as a vote-changing issue – top of mind for many Australian voters. Private polling conducted for the environment movement and for the major parties suggests community concern about climate change is currently sitting at levels not seen since the federal election cycle in 2007.

If you can remember the events of 2007, you’ll recall that John Howard was forced into a significant about-face on the issue. Within sight of the election that swept Kevin Rudd into power, Howard signed the Liberal party up to emissions trading, a “world’s best-practice” cap and trade scheme, and declared Australia must prepare for a “low-carbon future”.

he research doing the rounds as the major parties bed down their war rooms for the May contest puts climate change in the top-two issues of concern nationally. Women, particularly, are alarmed by the ongoing policy inaction, and that’s bad for the Liberals because the party’s standing among women is already depressed courtesy of the unhinged shenanigans of the past 12 months.

But there’s some nuance in the research. In marginal seats in outer suburban areas – the seats that often determine the outcome of federal elections – cost of living pressures still rank higher than climate change. But people insist that climate is registering in the top-three concerns in several outer suburban seats, where the issue is normally dormant.

The political consequence of all this is pretty obvious. The strength of community concern about climate change leaves the Morrison government vulnerable. The Coalition’s policy record on climate change is appalling. There is no other word for it. Absolutely, indefensibly, appalling…….

Independents such as Zali Steggall and Oliver Yates are thumping the government on climate change, both as a thing in itself and as a proxy for dysfunction within the Liberal party which is imposing costs on the citizenry………

February 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Sydney to host international climate conference for women in 2020

Sydney wins bid to host major climate conference for women in 2020, Brisbane Times, By Peter Hannam 3 February 2019 Hundreds of climate leaders are expected to flock to Sydney next year after the City of Sydney won its bid to host a global conference for women.

The C40 group, representing 94 cities home to more than 700 million people, has selected Sydney to host its Women4Climate Conference in April 2020.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said cities are responsible for a “staggering 75 to 80
per cent” of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, making action in cities to cut carbon pollution crucial.

“Many of the world’s biggest cities are setting ambitious targets and policies to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, proving effective action on climate change and strong
economic growth are compatible,” Cr Moore said.

“Shamefully, our own national government has a history of wilful negligence and Australian
politicians, both state and federal, are presiding over a climate disaster.”

Polling, including by the Lowy Institute, suggest concern about climate change is at the highest level since the end of the Millennium Drought.

Those numbers may well rise after a summer of extremes, from mass fish kills on the Darling River, raging fires in Tasmania, extensive flooding in Queensland and record heat for Australia in December and January.

The Women4Climate aims to empower young female leaders to take action to protect the environment, with a focus on mentoring, research and technology.

Lord mayor Moore, City of Sydney chief executive Monica Barone and the mayor’s chief of staff Shehana Teixeira will travel to Paris later this month to attend this year’s Women4Climate Summit.

Sydney Council is expected to endorse the proposal to host next year’s conference when it votes on the city’s budget on February 11, with Cr Moore’s Independent Team set to use its majority to support the plan.

February 3, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, women | Leave a comment

Nuclear Company SNC-Lavalin should be barred from federal contracts


Is this company an advisor to ANSTO and Australia’s nuclear lobby?


SNC-Lavalin should be barred from federal contracts: Angus, Call comes after two former executives pleaded guilty to breaking laws  Elizabeth Thompson · CBC News  Feb 03, 2019 The Canadian government should suspend engineering giant SNC-Lavalin from competing for future federal government contracts after two former top executives pleaded guilty to charges in recent weeks, says NDP MP Charlie Angus.

February 3, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Americal Republican politicians get big money from coal companies, – wonder how many Australian Liberals do?


150 Congressional Republicans Represent Fossil Fuel Companies Instead of Their Communities , January 30, 2019 by ClimateDenierRoundup.

Last week, we mocked the fossil fuel industry’s use of an outlet it owns to brag about perverting democracy — but we didn’t actually call out the politicians in the industry’s pocket.

Lucky for us, the Center for American Progress Action Fund did just that this week. A new analysis from CAP tallies up the climate deniers in the 116th Congress. As it turns out, there are a lot: 150.

But that’s actually an improvement from last year, when there were 180. Of those 180, 47 are no longer serving: 22 were defeated in 2018, 16 retired, five resigned, and four went to other positions.

United States   150 out of 335 United States Members of Congress are climate deniers, collecting $68,359,582 in dirty money.

Top recipients

Mitch McConnell (R)  –  $3,018,793

Jim Inhofe  (R)            – $2,111,110

John Cornyn (R)         – $3,444,515

Ted Cruz (R)               – $3,372,000

Kevin Brady (R)          – $1,753,762

The number of climate deniers receiving fossil fuel funding elected to the 116th Congress. Credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund  Continue reading

February 3, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Japan using Fukushima ‘recovery’ in a propaganda campaign for Olympic Games, despite radiation levels

The returning residents of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster

Near site of Fukushima nuclear disaster, a shattered town and scattered lives, WP, By Simon Denyer, February 3  NAMIE, Japan —  Noboru Honda lost 12 members of his extended family when a tsunami struck the Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan nearly eight years ago. Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer and initially given a few months to live.

Today, he is facing a third sorrow: Watching what may be the last gasps of his hometown.

For six years, Namie was deemed unsafe after a multiple-reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In March 2017, the government lifted its evacuation order for the center of Namie. But so far, hardly anyone has ventured back.

Its people are scattered and divided. Families are split. The sense of community is coming apart.

“It has been eight years; we were hoping things would be settled now,” the 66-year-old Honda said. “This is the worst time, the most painful period.”

For the people of Namie and other towns near the Fukushima plant, the pain is sharpened by the way the Japanese government is trying to move beyond the tragedy, to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a symbol of hope and recovery, a sign that life can return to normal after a disaster of this magnitude.

Its charm offensive is also tied up with efforts to restart the country’s nuclear-power industry, one of the world’s most extensive networks of atomic power generation.

Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be staged in Fukushima, the prefecture’s bustling and radiation-free capital city, and the Olympic torch relay will start from here.

But in Namie, much closer to the ill-fated nuclear plant, that celebration rings hollow, residents say.

This was a close-knit community of farmers, fishermen and potters — of orchards, rice paddies and cattle sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. It was a place where people celebrated and mourned as a community, and families lived together across generations.

That’s all gone. On the main street, a small new shopping arcade has opened. But a short walk away, a barber shop stands abandoned, its empty chairs gathering years of dust. A sign telling customers to make themselves at home is still displayed in a bar, but inside debris litters the floor. A karaoke parlor is boarded up. Wild boars, monkeys and palm civets still roam the streets, residents say.

Just 873 people, or under 5 percent, of an original population of 17,613 have returned. Many are scared — with some obvious justification — that their homes and surroundings are still unsafe. Most of the returnees are elderly. Only six children are enrolled at the gleaming new elementary school. This is not a place for young families.

Four-fifths of Namie’s geographical area is mountain and forest, impossible to decontaminate, still deemed unsafe to return. When it rains, the radioactive cesium in the mountains flows into rivers and underground water sources close to the town.

Greenpeace has been taking thousands of radiation readings for years in the towns around the Fukushima nuclear plant. It says radiation levels in parts of Namie where evacuation orders have been lifted will remain well above international maximum safety recommendations for many decades, raising the risks of leukemia and other cancers to “unjustifiable levels,” especially for children.

In the rural areas around the town, radiation levels are much higher and could remain unsafe for people to live beyond the end of this century, Greenpeace concluded in a 2018 report.

“The scale of the problem is clearly not something the government wants to communicate to the Japanese people, and that’s driving the whole issue of the return of evacuees,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace. “The idea that an industrial accident closes off an area of Japan, with its limited habitable land, for generations and longer — that would just remind the public why they are right to be opposed to nuclear power.”

Today, Namie’s former residents are scattered across all but one of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Many live in the nearby town of Nihonmatsu, in comfortable but isolating apartment blocks where communal space and interaction are limited. With young people moving away, the elderly, who already feel the loss of Namie most acutely, find themselves even more alone.

………. many residents say the central government is being heavy handed in its attempts to convince people to return, failing to support residents’ efforts to build new communities in places like Nihonmatsu, and then ending compensation payments within a year of evacuation orders being lifted. …….

February 3, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Is Australia still on the Solar-coaster? — RenewEconomy

Is Australia on the rollercoaster ride particularly for large-scale renewables or are we now on-board the good-ship renewables? The post Is Australia still on the Solar-coaster? appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Is Australia still on the Solar-coaster? — RenewEconomy

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RMIT says new solar technology could transform chemical manufacturing — RenewEconomy

RMIT designs new nano-enhanced material that can convert light to power chemical reactions, a discovery which could help deliver a more sustainable chemical manufacturing industry. The post RMIT says new solar technology could transform chemical manufacturing appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via RMIT says new solar technology could transform chemical manufacturing — RenewEconomy

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gupta challenges coalers with $1 billion plus solar and storage plan — RenewEconomy

Sanjeev Gupta’s plans to combine solar, batteries and pumped hydro emerge as the biggest challenge to the coal industry’s hopes in the government tender for 24/7 power. The post Gupta challenges coalers with $1 billion plus solar and storage plan appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Gupta challenges coalers with $1 billion plus solar and storage plan — RenewEconomy

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A planet worth saving — Beyond Nuclear International

Immersive Bella Gaia experience reminds us why Earth matters

via A planet worth saving — Beyond Nuclear International

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars — Beyond Nuclear International

Peace in space again under threat from current White House

via Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars — Beyond Nuclear International

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium above legal limit detected in fish caught off Fukushima — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Feb 2, 2019 FUKUSHIMA – Radioactive cesium exceeding the state limit has been detected in fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture for the first time in about four years, the prefecture’s fisheries cooperatives association has said. The cesium level of 161 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the limit of 100, was detected in a skate, a type […]

via Radioactive cesium above legal limit detected in fish caught off Fukushima — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment