Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear waste dumping and Australia’s bushfires – the unmentionable connection

In all the propaganda for a nuclear waste dump in Kimba, South Australia, there was no mention of bushfire risks.  An extraordinary omission, don’t you think?

The whole bizarre plan to trek the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor wastes some1700km by land, or even longer by sea, would entail trucking highly radioactive  (they call it intermediate) wastes through forest areas, towns, ports, to what used to be an agricultural area.

The nuclear industry touts itself as the cure for climate change. In reality,it is the other way around. For Australia especially, climate change, bushfires, water shortages –  make every aspect of the nuclear industry ever more dangerous.

The Lucas Heights nuclear reactor itself is uncomfortably close to the bushfires. But nobody’s talking about that. That reactor shoud be shutdown, and no more wastes produced.

January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina reviews | 8 Comments

Why does the Australian govt want to put nuclear waste ont Australia’s precious agricultural land?

January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

Michael Mann- climate change is now upon Australia

Australia, your country is burning – dangerous climate change is here with you now , Guardian,   Michael Mann  1 Jan 2020, I am a climate scientist on holiday in the Blue Mountains, watching climate change in action,

After years studying the climate, my work has brought me to Sydney where I’m studying the linkages between climate change and extreme weather events.

Prior to beginning my sabbatical stay in Sydney, I took the opportunity this holiday season to vacation in Australia with my family. We went to see the Great Barrier Reef – one of the great wonders of this planet – while we still can. Subject to the twin assaults of warming-caused bleaching and ocean acidification, it will be gone in a matter of decades in the absence of a dramatic reduction in global carbon emissions.

We also travelled to the Blue Mountains, another of Australia’s natural wonders, known for its lush temperate rainforests, majestic cliffs and rock formations and panoramic vistas that challenge any the world has to offer. It too is now threatened by climate change.

I witnessed this firsthand.

I did not see vast expanses of rainforest framed by distant blue-tinged mountain ranges. Instead I looked out into smoke-filled valleys, with only the faintest ghosts of distant ridges and peaks in the background. The iconic blue tint (which derives from a haze formed from “terpenes” emitted by the Eucalyptus trees that are so plentiful here) was replaced by a brown haze. The blue sky, too, had been replaced by that brown haze. ……

The brown skies I observed in the Blue Mountains this week are a product of human-caused climate change. Take record heat, combine it with unprecedented drought in already dry regions and you get unprecedented bushfires like the ones engulfing the Blue Mountains and spreading across the continent. It’s not complicated.

The warming of our planet – and the changes in climate associated with it – are due to the fossil fuels we’re burning: oil, whether at midnight or any other hour of the day, natural gas, and the biggest culprit of all, coal. That’s not complicated either.

When we mine for coal, like the controversial planned Adani coalmine, which would more than double Australia’s coal-based carbon emissions, we are literally mining away at our blue skies. The Adani coalmine could rightly be renamed the Blue Sky mine.

In Australia, beds are burning. So are entire towns, irreplaceable forests and endangered and precious animal species such as the koala (arguably the world’s only living plush toy) are perishing in massive numbers due to the unprecedented bushfires.

The continent of Australia is figuratively – and in some sense literally – on fire.

Yet the prime minister, Scott Morrison, appears remarkably indifferent to the climate emergency Australia is suffering through, having chosen to vacation in Hawaii as Australians are left to contend with unprecedented heat and bushfires.

Morrison has shown himself to be beholden to coal interests and his administration is considered to have conspired with a small number of petrostates to sabotage the recent UN climate conference in Madrid (“COP25”), seen as a last ditch effort to keep planetary warming below a level (1.5C) considered by many to constitute “dangerous” planetary warming.

But Australians need only wake up in the morning, turn on the television, read the newspaper or look out the window to see what is increasingly obvious to many – for Australia, dangerous climate change is already here. It’s simply a matter of how much worse we’re willing to allow it to get.

Australia is experiencing a climate emergency. It is literally burning. It needs leadership that is able to recognise that and act. And it needs voters to hold politicians accountable at the ballot box.

Australians must vote out fossil-fuelled politicians who have chosen to be part of the problem and vote in climate champions who are willing to solve it.

January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison’s govt under pressure for its lack of climate policy

Australia bushfires: PM’s climate stance criticised as thousands flee blazes
Scott Morrison’s government under pressure as fires feared to have killed 17 people,
Guardian,  Ben Smee , Calla Wahlquist Helen Davidson in Sydney and Jon Henley– 2 Jan 2020

Navy ships and army aircraft have been dispatched to help fight devastating bushfires on Australia’s south-east coast that are feared to have killed at least 17 people, amid a spiralling debate over the government’s stance on the climate emergency.

Thousands of people have fled apocalyptic scenes, abandoning their homes and huddling on beaches to escape raging columns of flame and smoke that have plunged whole towns into darkness and destroyed more than 4m hectares of land.

Thousands of firefighters were still battling more than 100 blazes in New South Wales (NSW) state and nearly 40 in Victoria on Wednesday, with new fires being sparked daily by hot and windy conditions and, more recently, dry lightning strikes created by the fires themselves.

At the end of Australia’s hottest-ever decade, Canberra, the capital, was blanketed in a cloud of dense smoke that left its air quality more than 21 times the hazardous rating and could be seen more than 1,200 miles (2,000km) away, on the South Island of New Zealand, where it turned the daytime sky orange.

Fanned by soaring temperatures, strong winds and a terrible three-year drought, huge blazes have ravaged a tinder-dry landscape, causing immense destruction: since November, more than 900 homes have been lost in NSW alone.

With three months of the summer still to go, the early and devastating start to the country’s fire season has led authorities to rate it the worst on record and prompted urgent questions about whether the conservative government of the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has taken enough action on global heating.

Polls show a large majority of Australians see the climate emergency as an urgent threat and want tougher government action, but Morrison has focused instead on the nation’s response to the bushfire crisis and defending Australian business, while other government officials have publicly disparaged climate activists.

In his New Year’s Eve address to the nation, Morrison did not make any connection between the bushfires and global heating, suggesting that while they were a terrible ordeal, Australians had faced similar trials throughout history.

Past generations had “also faced natural disasters, floods, fires, global conflicts, disease and drought” and overcome them, the prime minister said in a video message. “That is the spirit of Australians, that is the spirit that is on display, that is a spirit that we can celebrate as Australians.”…….

Criticism of the Morrison government’s climate stance has intensified as the fires have raged. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas, but the prime minister, who won a surprise election victory in May, last month rejected calls to downsize Australia’s lucrative coal industry.

His government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2030, a modest figure compared with the centre-left opposition Labor party’s pledge of 45%. The leader of the minor Australian Greens party, Richard Di Natale, demanded a royal commission, the nation’s highest form of inquiry, on the crisis.

“If he (Morrison) refuses to do so, we will be moving for a parliamentary commission of inquiry with royal commission-like powers as soon as parliament returns,” Di Natale said in a statement…….

January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Fact checking Angus Taylor: does Australia have a climate change record to be proud of?

Fact checking Angus Taylor: does Australia have a climate change record to be proud of?

On a day of extraordinary bushfires the energy minister argued that the country has ‘strong targets, clear plans and an enviable track record’ on reducing emissions. Is he right? Guardian,  Graham Readfearn

 @readfearn, Tue 31 Dec 2019

Angus Taylor spoke at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid. The energy minister says Australia has an enviable record on climate change – the Guardian fact checks his claims.

Australians should be proud of the country’s achievements on climate change, energy minister Angus Taylor has argued in a newspaper column that claims “quiet Australians” don’t accept the “shrill cries” of the government’s climate critics.

The column, published in The Australian, makes a series of claims about Australia’s emissions and how they compare to other countries, as well as highlighting exports such as LNG that are “dramatically reducing emissions” in other countries.

So is Australia really a paragon of climate virtue – cutting emissions at home while helping the world to cut emissions?

As is always the case when it comes to climate and energy policy, there is much to check and understand in Taylor’s article.

Prof Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate and Energy Policy at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, told Guardian Australia: “I would characterise [Taylor’s article] as a selective use of statistics that make Australia’s emissions trajectory look good, when in reality it does not look good at all.”

Tiny footprint?

Taylor writes that Australia is “responsible for only 1.3 per cent of global emissions, so we can’t single-handedly have a meaningful impact without the co-operation of the largest emitters such as China and the US.”

In the context of global emissions, there is much that Australia can, and does, do that has a meaningful impact.

The 1.3% figure does not account for Australia’s contribution to global emissions from the fossil fuels we dig up and export.

If this exported coal and gas was accounted for, one analysis suggests Australia would be responsible for almost 5% of the global carbon footprint from fossil fuel burning.

When countries report their emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, they only report emissions occurring inside their borders, so it could be argued that using this larger number is unfair.

But the problem is that elsewhere in Taylor’s article, he says Australia’s exporting of LNG is helping countries cut emissions.

Jotzo says: “If we are going to talk about impacts on global emissions of Australia’s energy exports, then we need to consider all fuels, including coal. Any exporting of coal will result in higher global emissions because it increases the availability and lowers the price of coal, and encourages the use of coal.”

While Taylor admits that LNG processing in Australia has pushed domestic emissions higher, he claims that “our LNG exports are dramatically reducing emissions in customer countries such as Japan, South Korea and China — the equivalent of up to 30 per cent of our emissions each year”.

But Jotzo says this claim depends heavily on what the LNG displaces.

He says the “lion’s share” of the exports will actually replace gas from other sources, rather than displacing coal generation. There is also a risk, he says, that increasing LNG exports also encourages countries to build more gas infrastructure, making it harder to move away from the fossil fuel.

He adds: “It is not clear that the availability of Australian LNG decreases emissions internationally.”

Easy target

“Australia meets and beats its emission-reductions targets, every time,” writes Taylor. “We beat our first Kyoto targets by 128 million tonnes. We ­expect to beat our 2020 targets by 411 million tonnes.”

The key reason why Australia has easily beaten its targets, is that they were very low to begin with.

Australia’s first Kyoto target allowed it to increase emissions by 8% between 1990 and 2010. The second target period required a 5% cut below 2000 levels by 2020.

Much of Australia’s cuts to emissions in recent decades, says Jotzo, has been achieved through drops in land clearing, rather than reductions in other parts of the economy the government could have influence over.

Australia wants to use some 411 million tonnes of CO2 “credits” amassed over the Kyoto periods against future targets under the separate Paris agreement, even though it admits it is probably the only country looking to use these “carryover credits”.

Using carryover credits would cut the amount of emissions reductions Australia would need to find to meet its Paris target by about a half.

At the latest UN climate talks in Madrid, Australia came under harsh criticism from more than 100 countries for its desire to use the credits, which some analysts say is a proposal with no legal basis.

Australia was accused of “cheating” at the talks, but refused to back down on the carryover issue, leaving it unresolved. …….

Proud and quiet Aussies?

According to Taylor, “Australia has strong targets, clear plans, an enviable track record” on climate change, and Australians should be proud of it.

But when overseas groups look at Australia’s record compared to the rest of the world, the assessments come out differently.

An analysis by Climate Action Tracker says Australia’s Paris targets are “insufficient” and inconsistent with the Paris goal of keeping global warming well below 2C.

Australia has been placed consistently towards the bottom in the annual Climate Change Policy Index analysis of the world’s top 57 emitting nations.

The most recent analysis ranked Australia as the sixth worst country on climate change overall.

Jotzo, who attended the Madrid climate talks as an observer, said: “Australia was highly regarded at the talks for its technical competence, and it always has. But Australia is not highly regarded at all for its policies or for its efforts to water down effective ambition of the Paris agreement.”

He said speaking with observers from other countries, Australia’s position was seen “with quite some bewilderment” especially with the backdrop of the current devastating fire season.

Jotzo adds: “They are flabbergasted that Australia is digging in to its stance of getting an easier deal when it would so obviously be in its national interest to encourage strong global action.”

January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Apocalypse now the time to accept climate change

January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate patterns behind Australia’s bushfires, heat and drought set to improve

Climate patterns behind Australia’s bushfires, heat and drought set to improve  Bureau of Meteorology says two climate patterns behind the dangerous fire conditions have shifted towards neutral.Guardian,  Graham Readfearn @readfearn, Wed 1 Jan 2020   Two climate patterns that have been influencing Australia’s ongoing drought, deadly bushfire weather and record-breaking heat have shifted towards neutral, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The changes should reduce the chances of hot winds from the west that have been adding to the extreme risk of bushfires in the south-east.

But Dr Andrew Watkins, the head of long-range forecasts at the bureau, told Guardian Australia the damage caused by the two patterns – the positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and a negative Southern Annular Mode (SAM) – would likely remain for several months…….


January 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

January 1 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Australia’s Angry Summer: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like” • Summer used to be something we yearned for: long, lazy days spent by the beach or pool, backyard barbecues, and games of cricket with family and friends. But summer has become a time of fear, with heatwaves, fires, and evacuations. Australia has […]

via January 1 Energy News — geoharvey

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radioactive Water: Towards Environmental Release — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Translated from french by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard) A massive amount of radioactive water is stored on the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site ravaged by the tsunami of March 2011. December 24, 2019 The decision is not expected to be announced before the Tokyo Olympics next summer, given the diplomatic […]

via Fukushima Radioactive Water: Towards Environmental Release — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Germany Aims To Close All Nuclear Plants By 2022

January 1, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Japan revises Fukushima cleanup plan, delays key steps — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

By MARI YAMAGUCHI December 27, 2019 TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Friday revised a roadmap for the cleanup of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster. It’s a key step in the decadeslong process, complicated by high radiation […]

via Japan revises Fukushima cleanup plan, delays key steps — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Video released of Fukushima No.3 reactor interior — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

December 27, 2019 Japan’s nuclear regulator has released a video of the interior of the No.3 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The reactor suffered a meltdown and a hydrogen explosion that blew off the upper part of the building. Workers have finished removing debris from the fifth and highest floor […]

via Video released of Fukushima No.3 reactor interior — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bee swarm affected by Fukushima radiation — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

December 25, 2019 Splendid structure of a bee swarm from the village of Iitate Bees : 2740 bq / kg Inner swarm : 16 145 Bq / kg Outer warm : 15 342 Bq / kg 蜂は2,470bq/Kg 巣(ハニカム部分)16,145bq/Kg 巣(外殻部分)15,342bq/Kg Special credits to Cecile Brice & Nobuyoshi Itou

via Bee swarm affected by Fukushima radiation — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment