Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia burns, as government leaders choose not to discuss this

Leading scientists condemn political inaction on climate change as Australia ‘literally burns
Climate experts ‘bewildered’ by government ‘burying their heads in the sand’, and say bushfires on Australia’s east coast should be a ‘wake-up call’,
 Lisa Cox, Sat 7 Dec 2019 , Leading scientists have expressed concern about the lack of focus on the climate crisis as bushfires rage across New South Wales and Queensland, saying it should be a “wake-up call” for the government.

Climate experts who spoke to Guardian Australia said they were “bewildered” the emergency had grabbed little attention during the final parliamentary sitting week for the year, which was instead taken up by the repeal of medevac laws, a restructure of the public service, and energy minister Angus Taylor’s run-in with the American author Naomi Wolf.

Escalating conditions on Thursday and Friday led to dozens of out-of-control bushfires, including in the NSW’s Hawkesbury region, where a fire at Gospers Mountain merged with two other blazes burning in the lower Hunter on Friday.

Sydney has been blanketed with a thick smoke haze that health officials said had led to a 25% increase in people presenting in emergency departments for asthma and breathing problems.

Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist with the University of NSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, said she was “surprised, bewildered, concerned” that the emergency had prompted little discussion from political leaders this week.

“Here we are in the worst bushfire season we’ve ever seen, the biggest drought we’ve ever had, Sydney surrounded by smoke, and we’ve not heard boo out of a politician addressing climate change,” she said.

“They dismissed it from the outset and haven’t come back to it since.

“They’re burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them and that’s the scary thing. It’s only going to get worse.” Continue reading

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Fire? What fire? It’s business as usual in Morrison’s Canberra bubble

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s submarine project is dubious, as supplier France’s nuclear industry withers

The French nuclear revolution is rusting away, December 6, 2019, THE AUSTRALIAN, Henry Ergas “……..France’s nuclear power industry faces a future that is more uncertain than ever.  The problems gripping the industry were highlighted late last month in an official report prepared by the former president and chief executive of PSA Peugeot Citroen, Jean Martin Folz.

While the report’s focus is on the difficulties that have plagued the construction of a new reactor at Flamanville in northwestern France, its implications reach much further.

With nuclear power plants accounting for more than 70 per cent of its overall electricity generation, no country is as dependent on nuclear energy as is France.

The decision to rely so massively on nuclear energy was taken in 1974, after the oil shock of the previous year had underlined France’s vulnerability to Middle Eastern oil. Prime minister Pierre Messmer launched a crash program that led to the construction of 56 reactors in just 15 years.

…….. however, most of France’s generators are approaching the final decade of their useful life. Planning for their replacement has been a stop-start affair, with the Greens’ increasingly strident opposition to nuclear power deterring successive governments from taking action.

As a result, only the Flamanville plant received the go-ahead, with construction beginning in 2007 for an expected entry into service in 2012. Virtually from the outset, the project was beset by woes. At this stage, the total costs of construction are four times greater than initially estimated, while the plant will not enter service before the end of 2022.

The problems stem partly from the sheer complexity of the new reactor, which is the first of its kind to be built in France.

Additionally, the catastrophe at Fukushima in 2011 led to regulatory changes that necessitated costly redesigns. And the project has suffered more than its fair share of mismanagement, aggravated by a byzantine allocation of responsibilities between EDF, the main French electricity utility, which oversaw the project, and many layers of subcontractors.

However, as the Folz report shows, the primary cause of the difficulties lies in the erosion of the industry’s skill base during the long hiatus from the end of the crash program in 1990 to the initiation of Flamanville………

There is, at this point, no prospect of France scaling up its nuclear program ………The cost blowout at Olkiluoto drove Areva, the “national champion” of France’s nuclear industry, into bankruptcy.

Even with an injection of $7.3bn in public funds EDF, which acquired Areva, lacks the balance sheet strength to underwrite new projects, while the French government’s borrowing ability is hampered by its already too high levels of debt.

To make matters worse, the regulated prices at which EDF has to sell the power it generates mean that it cannot charge its European clients the full value of the baseload it supplies.

As for global investors, who might provide the debt financing EDF would require, they are wary of projects that are risky in themselves ….

Given those constraints, the government has announced a modest plan to eventually build six additional reactors. So far, however, there are no actionable decisions beyond the completion of Flamanville. And work on the next generation of reactors….. has been quietly downgraded, making it likely that there will no fourth generation reactor of French design.

The consequences for France itself are far-reaching. Beginning in the late 1950s, French firms succeeded in one high-technology market after the other by developing or acquiring a rather basic design (including the Westinghouse Pressurised Water Reactor, the Mirage jet fighter and the TGV high-speed train) that they up­graded while producing it on a large scale.

That era is over, and there is every sign France is struggling with almost all the major projects it has in train.

The Folz report should therefore come as an ominous warning for our submarine project, as it identifies French industry’s serious managerial and technological weaknesses in a range of areas, such as precision welding, that are crucial to that project’s success……. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/the-french-nuclear-revolution-is-rusting-away/news-story/afe4546ed799939cf117d71f05035c5e

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Bushfires crisis in New South Wales, smoke pollution in Sydney, and even New Zealand

NSW ‘living in fear’ as bushfires continue to rage,  SBS, 6 Dec 19, So much of NSW is now alight that smoke from the bushfires is impacting communities across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the NSW RFS says.

The NSW bushfire crisis has people “living in fear” with more than 100 blazes burning across the state and Sydney choking on harmful smoke pollution.

Firefighters will have a brief window over the weekend to get on top of the crisis before the weather deteriorates early next week.

The Bureau of Meteorology has painted a grim picture for the coming week, with winds forecast to whip dangerous fire grounds and no rain relief in sight. At one point on Friday there were nine fires burning at an emergency level, including the massive Gospers Mountain blaze, which has merged with neighbouring fire grounds to create a “megafire”.

Smoke from the fires was drifting to New Zealand and affecting communities there, NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said on Friday.

There were 108 fires burning in NSW on Friday afternoon, with 74 of those burning out of control.

Hazardous air pollution readings were recorded in many parts of the state, with emergency departments seeing an increase in presentations for respiratory issues…….

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said residents from the South Coast up the Queensland border are “living in fear”.

“The difference now as we lead into the summer months is previously [bushfires] were pretty much confined to the northern part of NSW but what we are seeing this week is our resources stretched across the entire coastline,” she told reporters……

Fire crews have arrived from interstate as well as New Zealand and Canada, while a team from the US will arrive on Saturday.

Total fire bans will be in place on Saturday for the far north coast, New England, the northern slopes, the greater Hunter, greater Sydney, the central ranges and the nortwestern regions…… https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nsw-living-in-fear-as-bushfires-continue-to-rage

December 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Huge bushfire North of Sydney, with conditions forecast to worsen

Australia fires: five blazes merge north of Sydney as conditions forecast to worsen, More than 100 bushfires were burning in New South Wales on Friday, more than half of them out of control, Guardian,  Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, Fri 6 Dec 2019  Five fires burning to the north of Sydney joined up into one huge conflagration on Friday, with out-of-control blazes threatening homes and lives.On a day that brought choking smog to Sydney, the premier of New South Wales said the entire coastline of the state was on fire.

Six people have died, and more than 680 homes have already been lost to bushfires in NSW this fire season, and on Friday more than 100 fires were burning, more than half of them out of control. Eight fires have emergency warnings, which means they pose an immediate risk to lives and property.

The largest fire – a conglomeration of five blazes which have joined up north of Sydney – has burned over 335,000 hectares.

The forecast for coming days is for more hot, dry conditions. Strong winds are likely to continue to fan blazes towards towns and properties.

The NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said while fires had been burning across the state for weeks, the sheer scale of the current fire threat was stretching crews’ ability to fight the blazes……..

Sydney has been choked by thick smoke for almost a week.

Hospital emergency departments have seen a 25% increase in people presenting with asthma and breathing problems, and ambulance crews are responding to between 70 and 100 call-outs a day for respiratory conditions, including to school children as young as six.

Some schools across the state have been closed because of the fire risk, while others have kept children inside because of the worsening air quality…… https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/06/australia-fires-five-bushfires-merge-north-of-sydney-as-conditions-forecast-to-worsen

December 6, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

In reality, nuclear power is useless as a solution to global heating

The Tantalizing Nuclear Mirage, Many see nuclear power as a necessary part of any carbon-neutral mix. The reality isn’t so simple. The American Prospect, BY ALEXANDER SAMMON DECEMBER 5, 2019 “………..

If it’s going to take 10 to 15 years to see a plant through to completion, even with massive financial backing, that’s seemingly impossible to square with the 11 years to decarbonize. At the very least, we’d need hundreds, if not thousands of plants already under construction just to make a dent. Booker, Yang, and other advocates are betting that R&D might accelerate that process, but in a real sense it’s already too late.

So if new construction can’t be counted on, and the window for adding new nuclear to the fleet has already shut, what about the reactors we currently have? Has their environmental potential gotten short shrift?

While nuclear fission emits far less carbon dioxide than energy production by oil and gas, the process of getting to that energy generation complicates nuclear’s claim to zero-carbon status. Uranium mining, processing, and transport are all carbon-intensive procedures done by diesel-powered heavy machinery. Instead of carbon, the plants themselves emit heat, often in great quantities, which can warm nearby air and water dramatically, killing fish and wildlife and afflicting neighboring habitats.

And while nuclear may maintain a cleaner sheet than fossil fuels when it comes to CO2, its record on H2O is less rosy. An American nuclear plant can require between 19 million and 1.4 billion gallons of water a day, just for purposes of cooling. Because of that implacable thirst, it’s imperative that nuclear plants are constructed near major water sources. Continue reading

December 6, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Environment is downgraded, as Morrison merges government departments

Concerns for environment as Morrison merges government departments Newsline, 5 Dec 19, “……. Farmers for Climate Action spokesperson Verity Morgan-Schmidt said strong environmental policy was essential to make the agriculture sector sustainable.

“We’re failing to address climate change, which is the biggest threat to agriculture, and the concern in this merger is that ecological outcomes will be overlooked,” Ms Morgan-Schmidt said.

……. Farmers for Climate Action spokesperson Verity Morgan-Schmidt said strong environmental policy was essential to make the agriculture sector sustainable.

“We’re failing to address climate change, which is the biggest threat to agriculture, and the concern in this merger is that ecological outcomes will be overlooked,” Ms Morgan-Schmidt said.

……. Infrastructure, transport, regional development, communications and the arts will also come together in another massive new department.

Education, skills and employment will be merged in a move welcomed by vocational education advocates…….. https://www.newsline.com.au/2019/12/05/concerns-for-environment-as-morrison-merges-government-departments/

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Grim summer is forecast for Murray Darling river system

“Campaigns led by irrigators and the NSW National party to derail the basin plan do not represent the interests of all communities across the basin. Governments must listen to all voices in this debate, not just the loudest and most belligerent,”

Murray-Darling authority warns of ‘dire’ summer of mass fish deaths and blue-green algae https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/06/murray-darling-authority-warns-of-dire-summer-of-mass-fish-deaths-and-blue-green-algae  

Alert comes as Indigenous group issues plea for states to stick with basin plan or risk marginalising vulnerable communities and endangering river health,  Anne Davies, 6 Dec 19,

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has warned of more mass fish deaths and blue-green algae events throughout the Murray-Darling River system as the peak group representing First Nations issued a plea for the states to stick with the plan.

The MDBA issued a communique on Friday saying the summer outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology was “dire”, and there was a greater than average chance of drier, warmer conditions and an elevated fire danger across the basin.

“We are already seeing the drying of critical aquatic refuges in the north, and water quality issues such as blue-green algae and stratification are becoming more widespread,” the MDBA said.

These were the conditions that led to mass fish deaths at Menindee in January this year.

The MDBA reiterated how important it is to use what little environmental water that remained available to protect critical habitats and maintain water quality.

It has produced a detailed water quality map that will be updated as the drought worsens. Continue reading

December 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

December 6 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “We Need To Protect The Environment Like We Protect Our Economies” • In nature, everything is connected. This is equally true of a healthy environment and a healthy economy. We cannot hope to sustain life without taking care of nature. And we need healthy economies to lift people out of poverty and achieve […]

via December 6 Energy News — geoharvey

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Angus Taylor escapes the House and heads for Madrid, where more fact checkers await — RenewEconomy

Taylor survives a shocking last week of parliament, but the emissions reduction minister is set to face more heat in Madrid over Australia’s lack of climate ambition. The post Angus Taylor escapes the House and heads for Madrid, where more fact checkers await appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Angus Taylor escapes the House and heads for Madrid, where more fact checkers await — RenewEconomy

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Craig Kelly wants you to burn as much fossil fuel as you can this summer — RenewEconomy

Coalition MP Craig Kelly urges attendees at oil and gas lobby group’s event to burn as much fossil fuels as they can this summer. The post Craig Kelly wants you to burn as much fossil fuel as you can this summer appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Craig Kelly wants you to burn as much fossil fuel as you can this summer — RenewEconomy

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Morrison sponsored report says reef tourism may be virtually wiped out by climate change — RenewEconomy

A Morrison-government sponsored report finds Australia’s reef tourism industry could shrink by 94% due to climate change by 2100. The post Morrison sponsored report says reef tourism may be virtually wiped out by climate change appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Morrison sponsored report says reef tourism may be virtually wiped out by climate change — RenewEconomy

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment