Australian news, and some related international items

Cancer rates increase: the focus must be on prevention, on researching environmental causes

Laura N. Vandenberg: It’s time to talk about cancer prevention — and the role of the environment

An inadequate focus on researching and understanding the role of the environment in cancer prevention is a failure for public health.  8 Feb 19, 

Such funding is crucial to continue tackling the devastating disease. However, missing from the State of the Union—and most other conversations about tackling cancer—is a focus on prevention, specifically the need to research, understand and communicate the role environmental exposures play in cancer risk.

The numbers on cancer incidence and deaths are complex. Although childhood cancer mortality rates have dropped considerably from the 1960s, data from the American Cancer Society shows that incidence rates have increased 0.6 percent per year since 1975.

In this way, childhood cancers are like several others. Between 2005 and 2014, yearly cancer incidence rates rose for several types: thyroid cancer by 4 percent; invasive breast cancer by 0.3 percent in black women; leukemia by 1.6 percent; liver cancer by 3 percent; oral and pharynx cancers by 1 percent in Caucasians; pancreatic cancer by 1 percent in Caucasians; colon cancer by 1.4 percent in individuals younger than 55 years of age; rectal cancer by 2.4 percent in individuals younger than 55; and melanoma by 3 percent in individuals aged 50 and older.

While these cancer rates have increased, overall rates of cancer deaths have started to fall. In fact, since the 1990s, improved detection and treatment, as well as decreased smoking rates, have contributed to significant reductions in cancer mortality.

Reduced deaths from cancer are a great public health victory. These statistics prove that public health interventions like educational programs designed to curb smoking can have dramatic effects.

They also suggest that investments in improved detection and diagnosis are money well spent. A focus on treatments has also improved quality of life for cancer patients and their likelihood of remission.

But where is the call for better cancer prevention? As rates of numerous cancers continue to rise, the failure to identify the causes of cancer remains a disappointment for public health officials and researchers alike.

We know that environmental factors can contribute to cancer risk. Some, like smoking, are avoidable. Others are lifestyle factors that people can change like drinking less alcohol, decreasing consumption of processed meats, using protection from the sun, and increasing exercise.

Yet, other environmental factors like exposures to chemicals in the environment, including endocrine disruptors, have received little attention. While some NIH-funded programs like the Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program have worked to identify chemicals in the environment that promote cancer, funding for cancer prevention initiatives has stagnated.

Despite the limited resources invested in studies of environmental risk factors for cancer, we know enough to take action on some chemicals of concern.

For example, communities contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals, several of which are known to cause cancer, have demanded attention from government officials in addition to asking for more research.

Individuals living in these communities have the right to know how they are being exposed, and what their risks might be – for cancer and other diseases.

It is great that cancer research was raised in the President’s State of the Union speech, and that the difficulties associated with caring for a family member with cancer was mentioned in Stacey Abrams’ rebuttal.

But a failure to focus on prevention, a failure to acknowledge the role of the environment in causing cancer, and a failure to allocate funds to prevention research, are all failures for public health.

Dr. Vandenberg is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. Her work on endocrine disrupting chemicals has been funded by the National Institutes of Health including the BCERP program, which focuses on the environmental causes of breast cancer.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change already having drastic effects on Torres Strait islands

Climate change eats away at Torres Strait islands, prompting calls for long-term solutions, ABC Far North 

A flood prevention method that withstood wild weather this week may be rolled out to other vulnerable Torres Strait communities, including Yam Island where families were left homeless after king tides last year.

Torres Strait Island Regional Council deputy mayor Getano Lui said geotextile sandbags were used for the first time in the Torres Strait this week when abnormally high tides impacted Poruma Island, a cultural hub home to just 200 people.

“It’s getting worse every year,” he said.”Climate change is really having a detrimental effect on all the communities.

“When I was growing up the elders could predict the weather but right now it’s unpredictable.

“The worst is yet to come this year, the king tides are predicted [on February 19] and anything could happen, we could end up with the same catastrophe as Yam Island last year.”

Connection to land, culture under threat

Research from the Torres Strait Regional Authority shows sea levels are rising by 6mm each year — double the global average.

“If this trend continues, relocation is an option many of those on the Torres Strait’s 200 islands and coral cays may be faced with,” Mr Lui said.

“What is instilled in us and our ancestors is if the Torres Strait sinks, we’ll sink with it.

“We would be very reluctant to be relocated.

“Most of us would refuse to leave.”

Torres Shire Council mayor Vonda Malone said the region’s two councils would now look at installing the sandbags on other vulnerable islands such as Yam Island, Masig Island and Boigu.

“The weather over the last two weeks has been unpredictable; it has been full on,” she said…..

Sinking cemeteries a concern for State MP


February 8, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Bob Brown to lead anti coal mine convoy from Hobart to Queensland’s Galilee Basin, and Canberra

Dr Bob Brown leads anti coal mine convoy, Examiner, Sue Bailey  7 Feb 19, 

February 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Anti Adani protesters rally outside the Sydney Mining Club

Anti-Adani protesters outside CEO speech, SBS , 8 Feb 19, 
A group of protesters have rallied outside the Sydney Mining Club, where Adani Australia’s CEO was speaking about the company’s Carmichael coal mine. 
More than 100 people have rallied against Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine as the company’s Australian boss spruiked the project to industry figures.

The protesters carried placards and chanted loudly outside the Sydney Mining Club on Thursday as chief executive Lucas Dow delivered his lunchtime speech.

“We’re not going to stop until they listen,” one speaker told the crowd……..

The Queensland government in January appointed an environmental group to review the mine’s management plan, including plans to conserve 33,000 hectares of pastoral land bought near the 1300-hectare site to offset habitat loss for black-throated finch.

The LNP believes the move has put the project at risk.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Antarctic and Greenland melting ice sheets may cause climate chaos

Melting ice sheets may cause ‘climate chaos’: study, Daily Nation,  FEBRUARY 7 2019 Billions of tonnes of meltwater flowing into the world’s oceans from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could boost extreme weather and destabilise regional climate within a matter of decades, researchers said Wednesday.

These melting giants, especially the one atop Greenland, are poised to further weaken the ocean currents that move cold water south along the Atlantic Ocean floor while pushing tropical waters northward closer to the surface, they reported in the journal Nature.

Known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), this liquid conveyor belt plays a crucial role in Earth’s climate system and helps ensures the relative warmth of the Northern Hemisphere.

“According to our models, this meltwater will cause significant disruptions to ocean currents and change levels of warming around the world,” said lead author Nicholas Golledge, an associate professor at the Antarctic Research Centre of New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington.

The Antarctic ice sheet’s loss of mass, meanwhile, traps warmer water below the surface, eroding glaciers from underneath in a vicious circle of accelerated melting that contributes to sea level rise.

Most studies on ice sheets have focused on how quickly they might shrink due to global warming, and how much global temperatures can rise before their disintegration — whether over centuries or millennia — becomes inevitable, a threshold known as a “tipping point.”

But far less research has been done on how the meltwater might affect the climate system itself.

“The large-scale changes we see in our simulations are conducive to a more chaotic climate with more extreme weather events and more intense and frequent heatwaves,” co-author Natalya Gomez, a researcher in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at McGill University in Canada, told AFP.

“By mid-century,” the researchers concluded, “meltwater from the Greenland ice sheet noticeably disrupts the AMOC,” which has already shown signs of slowing down.

This is a “much shorter timescale than expected,” commented Helene Seroussi, a researcher in the Sea Level and Ice Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, who was not involved in the study.


The findings were based on highly detailed simulations combined with satellite observations of changes to the ice sheets since 2010.

One likely result of weakened current in the Atlantic will be warmer air temperatures in the high Arctic, eastern Canada and central America, and cooler temperatures over northwestern Europe and the North American eastern seaboard.

The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, up to three kilometres thick, contain more than two-thirds of the planet’s fresh water, enough to raise global oceans 58 and seven metres, respectively, were they to melt completely.

Besides Greenland, the regions most vulnerable to global warming are West Antarctica and several huge glaciers in East Antarctica, which is far larger and more stable.

In a second study published Wednesday in Nature, some of the same scientists offered new projections of how much Antarctica will contribute to sea level rise by 2100 — a hotly debated topic………

A special report on oceans by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due out in September, will offer a much anticipated estimate of sea level rise.

The IPCC’s last major assessment in 2013 did not take ice sheets — today seen as the major contributor, ahead of thermal expansion and glaciers — into account for lack of data.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Red Cross urges countries to join the UN nuclear weapons ban

Red Cross warns of ‘growing’ risk of nuclear weapons, urges ban GENEVA (AFP) – The Red Cross called on Friday (Feb 8) for a total ban on nuclear weapons, warning of the growing risk that such arms could again be used with devastating effect. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a global campaign to raise awareness about the rising nuclear threat facing the world.

In a joint statement, they said some nuclear-armed states were straying from their “longstanding nuclear disarmament obligations” and were “upgrading their arsenals, developing new kinds of nuclear weapons and making them easier to use”. The campaign comes after the United States and Russia ripped up a key arms control treaty, with US President Donald Trump announcing last week that Washington was beginning a process to withdraw from the Cold War-era agreement in six months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly followed suit, saying Moscow was leaving the treatyand would begin work on new types of weapons not permitted under the 1987 deal.

“Seventy-four years after nuclear weapons obliterated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the risk that nuclear weapons will again be used is growing,” the Red Cross organisations warned.

The campaign was launched with a video depicting two friends on a beach discussing whether they would want to live or die if a nuclear bomb were to explode.

One said he would want to live, because life is full of so many beautiful things, like spending time with his family, feeling the sun on his face and falling in love. The other said he would prefer to die, because after the bomb, none of those things would be possible.

The video ends with a call to action: “Let’s decide the future of nuclear weapons before they decide ours.”

The Red Cross said the campaign aimed to shine a light on the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of a nuclear war”.

It also aims to encourage people to lobby their governments to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which has so far been signed by 70 nations and ratified by 21.

“Any risk of nuclear weapons use is unacceptable,” ICRC president Peter Maurer said in the statement, stressing that the TPNW “represents a beacon of hope and an essential measure to reduce the risk of a nuclear catastrophe”. “At this moment of growing international tension, I call on everyone to act with urgency and determination to bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end,” he said.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Electromagnetic radiation from smart phones – measuring the amount

Here Are ‘Most’ And ‘Least’ Radiation Emitting Smartphones In 2019  Fossbytes, martphone addiction is real and is slowly turning into an unhealthy obsession that is messing the minds of people. While we consider lengthy exposure to screens as a major issue, we often fail to neglect other harmful effects that smartphones can have on our health. The radiofrequency waves emitted by phones can even cause cancerous tumors, according to

Every smartphone comes with a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value that quantifies the amount of radiofrequency waves emitted from a smartphone. Higher the SAR value, more are the chances of users getting exposed to the harmful radiation. You can usually find SAR value of your device at its official website or in the user manual.

But if you are looking forward to purchasing a smartphone in 2019 that emits the least amount of radiation, here is a list you can refer to. The list has been compiled by German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt fur Strahlenschutz) and published by ………..

Samsung Note 8 owners are least prone to radiations and out of the 16 enlisted smartphones, eight are from Samsung.

Now, don’t you want to know the smartphones which emit the highest amount of radiation? Here, is the list you need to see………..

February 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

This New South Wales court ruling will shake the coal industry to its core

Paparc  People Against Political and Religious Corruption, 8 Feb 19, 

In an Australian first, and a decision that will no doubt set a precedent in this country, and shake the coal industry to its core, a proposed coal mine in Gloucester has been denied and rejected by the Chief Justice of the Land and Environment Court.

“Wrong place because an open-cut coal mine in this scenic and cultural landscape, proximate to many people’s homes and farms, will cause significant planning, amenity, visual and social impacts.

“Wrong time because the [greenhouse gas] emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of [greenhouse gases] at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in emissions.”

‘Dire consequences’: NSW court quashes plans for new coal mine…/rocky-hill-mine-plans-qaus…/10792902


February 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

NSW coal mine ruled out due to climate change, in landmark court decision — RenewEconomy

NSW Land and Environment Court judge blocks Hunter Valley coal mine, citing urgent need to cut fossil fuel emissions and avoid “dire consequences” of climate change. The post NSW coal mine ruled out due to climate change, in landmark court decision appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via NSW coal mine ruled out due to climate change, in landmark court decision — RenewEconomy

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thousands of British schoolkids to go on strike for climate change action

UK pupils to join global strike over climate change crisis, Thousands of pupils to walk out of lessons amid growing concern over global warming, Guardian, Matthew Taylor, Sat 9 Feb 2019  

‘I feel very angry’: the 13-year-old on strike for climate action The school climate strikes that have led to tens of thousands of young people taking to the streets around the world over recent months are poised to arrive in the UK next Friday.

Thousands of pupils are expected to walk out of lessons at schools and colleges across the country amid growing concern about the escalating climate crisis.

The movement started in August when the 16-year-old schoolgirl Greta Thunberg held a solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament. Now, up to 70,000 schoolchildren each week are taking part in 270 towns and cities worldwide.

Individual protests have been held in the UK, but next week a coordinated day of action is expected to result in walkouts in more than 30 towns and cities – from Lancaster to Truro, and Ullapool to Leeds.

Jake Woodier, of the UK Youth Climate Coalition, which is helping to coordinate the strikes, said Greta’s message about the need for radical, urgent change had struck a chord with hundreds of thousand of young people in the UK. ……..

The UK walkouts are being billed as a chance to build towards a global day of school strikes on 15 March…..

February 8, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

There is still no deal on royalties for Adani coal mine with Queensland government

Adani yet to sign royalties deal with Queensland government, Fin Rev, By Mark Ludlow, Feb 7, 2019 

Indian energy giant Adani has yet to sign a royalties agreement with the Queensland government for its controversial $2 billion Carmichael mine.

In a further setback for the mine and rail project – which has become a lightning rod for environmental activists across the country – it can be revealed that while there was an in-principle agreement about a royalty framework for the project, it has yet to be finalised between the company and the Palaszczuk Labor government….. (subscribers only)

February 8, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Adani doesn’t want a “Mega-Mine” any more

Adani chief rues original plans for ‘mega-mine’  Brisbane Times, By Nick Bonyhady, February 7, 2019     The chief executive of major coal miner Adani says he rues the way the company’s controversial Carmichael coal mine was originally announced as a 60 million tonne mega-mine in 2010 before being scaled down to a 10 million tonne project last year……..

The project is awaiting state and federal sign-off on two environmental management plans but it now looks more certain after shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor would not block the mine if it wins office at the federal election due by May.
Mr Dow also said Adani had received support from the country’s largest construction union. …….

A CFMEU spokeswoman said their official had spoke about central Queensland and that the quote was not a reference to Adani specifically, but that the union supported resource jobs in the state. The Labor Party was contacted for comment.

Mr Dow named the Queensland seats of Flynn, Capricornia, Dawson and Herbert as federal electorates where the mine’s fate would be particularly influential in the election. But Mr Dow also lauded the Coalition for its support of the project, which he said was very nearly underway after being delayed for eight years.

A Queensland government investigation into whether the company breached bore water extraction requirements is ongoing, as is a Federal Court challenge to the validity of a meeting at which indigenous owners approved the company’s indigenous land use agreement.

Adani had sought hundreds of millions of dollars in government loans for the project but its applications were rejected after political pressure from environmental groups…….

February 8, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

February 8 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Coal Under The Bus, State Of The Union Edition” • There was a total omission of the US coal industry from President Trump’s State of the Union address. Adding insult to injury, he took the opportunity to wax enthusiastic over productivity in the US oil and gas industries. It’s almost like he wanted […]

via February 8 Energy News — geoharvey

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to power through a heatwave – in comfort, on 100% solar energy — RenewEconomy

Does rooftop solar really struggle in the heat? Real data from two rooftop solar systems show how they reliably soldiered on during a recent Adelaide heatwave. The post How to power through a heatwave – in comfort, on 100% solar energy appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via How to power through a heatwave – in comfort, on 100% solar energy — RenewEconomy

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia is not on track to meet Paris emissions target – not without policy support — RenewEconomy

Angus Taylor has seized upon an ANU renewables briefing as justification for the government’s do-nothing approach to climate. But meeting our Paris target is certainly not a given. The post Australia is not on track to meet Paris emissions target – not without policy support appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Australia is not on track to meet Paris emissions target – not without policy support — RenewEconomy

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment