Australian news, and some related international items

September – climate, nuclear, coronavirus news


It’s September, and supposed to be getting cooler in the Northern Hemisphere. But global heating rolls on inexorably. For September, my websites are focusing on the Poles, and on the cryosphere (yes, it’s a word that I’ve only just learned.)  Surprisingly, both the Arctic and the Antarctic are seriously involved in nuclear as well as climate, issues.

On the nuclear scene – well, the news media is awash with unashamed handouts from the Bill Gates- Terra Power – GE-Hitachi – SNC-Lavalin etc  propaganda about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.  Sadly, these articles do not examine the claims made about “fighting global warming”. I guess that journalists need to keep their jobs.

Coronavirus live news: India reports global one-day record of over 90,000 cases.

A bit of good news – Mirrar Aboriginal people at last have control of Jabiru, as Ranger uranium mining set to end operations

Some more good news about the pandemicDr. Fauci Reveals Some ‘Good News’ About COVID.


Morrison government rushing to make Austraia’s environment laws even weaker: a recipe for extinctions.  Australian government, masks its anti-environment action under the cover of Covid-19.   Environment Law: Scott Morrison’s government shows its disdain for ZaliSteggall and the cross-benchers.  Aussies call for tougher environment laws.

Murray-Darling River system; mysterious loss of more than 2 trillion litres of water.

CLIMATE Parliament Covers Up Australia’s True Carbon Footprint .  The Energy Security Board puts “coal exit strategy” at centre of energy market shakeup.  Battle lines drawn over future of CEFC, as Taylor gets wires crossed on gas.



Julian Assange due in court in latest stage of fight against US extradition. ‘He won’t survive’: Julian Assange’s partner pleads for his release.

Sea level rise from melting ice sheets matches worst-case climate warming scenarios.  Six Portuguese youth file ‘unprecedented’ climate lawsuit against 33 countries .  Viruses could be harder to kill after adapting to warm environmentsGeoengineering to counter global heating? It’s a risky gamble.

Low Dose Ionizing Radiation Shown to Cause Cancer in Review of 26 Studies.

The atomic bombing cover-up and the reporter who revealed it to the world.  Students unaware of nuclear weapons and the existential threat that they pose.  It’s time to be fearful of nuclear war again.   Two excellent new books on a nuclear-weapons -free world.

Risks of cyberattacks on nuclear reactors.

Renewable energy can save the natural world – but if we’re not careful, it will also hurt it.

Climate protestors stop Rupert Murdoch’s press in Britain.


September 7, 2020 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Morrison government rushing to make Austraia’s environment laws even weaker: a recipe for extinctions

‘Recipe for extinction’: why Australia’s rush to change environment laws is sparking widespread concern

Critics argue shifting approval powers to the states without an independent regulator will fail to protect the environment,   Guardian,  Lisa Cox– 6 Sept 20

Anger over proposed changes to national environmental laws is escalating, with legal, health and conservation groups urging that they not pass the Senate, with some warning it would increase the extinction rate.

The government rammed its legislation to change Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act through the lower house on Thursday night, prompting outrage from Labor, the Greens and crossbench.

WWF-Australia says the bill in its current reform is a “recipe for extinction” and lacks standards that would ensure strong protections for nature, as well as a commitment to an independent regulator to enforce the law.

“There is more than just wildlife at stake here,” Rachel Lowry, WWF-Australia’s chief conservation officer, says. “If approved, this bill will fail Australians at this critical moment in time because it fails to incentivise win-win solutions that stimulate our economy and protect the places and animals we love.

“Shifting approval powers to the states without an independent regulator to ensure enforcement would be the most damaging environmental decision to occur within Australia in recent decades.”

The government’s bill would amend Australia’s environmental laws, clearing the way for the transfer of development approval powers to state and territory governments.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, and the environment minister, Sussan Ley, have argued the changes are necessary to aid Australia’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The proposed changes passed the lower house on Thursday night after the government used its numbers to gag debate on the bill and amendments proposed by Labor and the crossbench.

No member of the government spoke on the bill, which still has to pass the Senate and will likely be debated during the October budget sittings.

Rachel Walmsley, the policy and law reform director at the Environmental Defenders Office, says the government is trying to avoid scrutiny.

She warns the bill has the potential to undermine the statutory review of the EPBC Act, chaired by the former competition watchdog head Graeme Samuel, which is not due to table its final report until the end of October.

The key finding of Samuel’s interim report was that Australia’s system of environmental protections had failed and the decline of wildlife and habitat was unsustainable.

“It was a fairly atrocious process that, moments before adjournment, they rammed it through,” Walmsley says.

“The gagging of the debate, the fact they prevented voting on amendments and the fact no government MP stood up to justify the policy – it prevented proper parliamentary scrutiny.”

The Climate and Health Alliance, which is a coalition of Australian health organisations, has called on the Senate to block the amendments.

“Australia’s natural environment is declining on every possible measure. We lead the world in animal extinctions,” says the alliance’s executive director, Fiona Armstrong. “There is no economy without a healthy environment.

“The government is trying to rush through amendments to our environmental protection laws that would weaken them in favour of expanding gas and fossil fuel projects that harm the environment and threaten human health.”

The Law Council of Australia has called for the bill to be put before a parliamentary committee for inquiry and not rushed through the Senate.

The government and One Nation have blocked several attempts by the Greens to have a parliamentary committee examine the bill.

International obligations

The Law Council says the government needs to make sure it retains oversight of matters of national environmental significance if it enters into bilateral approval agreements with state and territory governments.

The council says this is particularly important for ensuring Australia still meets its obligations under some 33 international treaties and protocols to which it is signatory, including for world heritage sites……..

September 7, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

The United Nations weather agency on the impact of climate change on the cryosphere

Climate change: UN agency laments northern summer’s ‘deep wound’ to Earth’s ice cover, By Associated Press-Sep 1, 2020   The United Nations weather agency says this summer will go down for leaving a “deep wound” in the cryosphere — the planet’s frozen parts — amid a heat wave in the Arctic, shrinking sea ice and the collapse of a leading Canadian ice shelf.


The World Meteorological Organisation said today that temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as the global average, provoking what spokeswoman Clare Nullis called a “vicious circle.”
“The rapid decline of sea ice in turn contributes to more warming, and so the circle goes on and the consequences do not stay in the Arctic,” Ms Nullis said during a regular UN briefing in Geneva.
The weather agency said in a statement that many new temperature records have been set in recent months, including in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk. The town, located in Siberia above the Arctic Circle line, reached 38 degrees Celsius on June 20.
“What we saw in Siberia this year was exceptionally bad, was exceptionally severe,” Ms Nullis said.
She noted a heat wave across the Arctic, record-breaking wildfires in Siberia, nearly record-low sea ice extent, and the collapse of one of the last fully intact Canadian ice shelves.
“The summer of 2020 will leave a deep wound on the cryosphere,” the World Meteorological Organisation statement said, pointing to a “worrisome trend” of floods resulting from the outburst of glacier lakes that are becoming “an increased factor of high-risk in many parts of the world.”
In late July, an 81-square-kilometre section of Canada’s Milne ice shelf broke off, reducing the total area of the ice shelf by 43 per cent, the weather agency said.
The consequences include the loss of a rare ecosystem, possible acceleration of glaciers sliding into the ocean and contributing to sea level rise, and creation of new “drifting ice islands,” it said.
The WMO is preparing to release on September 9 a report on the impact of climate change on the cryosphere.

September 7, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Coronavirus live news: India reports global one-day record of over 90,000 cases

Coronavirus live news: India reports global one-day record of over 90,000 cases, Guardian 7 Sept 20

Labor day weekend crowds prompt Covid-19 fears; Netanyahu announces overnight curfews on 40 cities; UK reports almost 3,000 cases, level not seen since late May. Follow the latest updates

Covering Covid-19 in Africa
France declares more Covid-19 ‘red zones’
Many Americans face bleak winter as Covid takes toll on mental health
Kamala Harris says she wouldn’t trust Trump on Covid vaccine
‘Drenched in the virus’: was this Austrian ski resort a Covid ground zero?…..

September 7, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arctic melting permafrost a serious problem (and they want to put Small Modular Nuclear Reactors there!)

Destabilising of infrastructure in Arctic regions , as permafrost melts, is a compelling reason why it is madness to plan for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in Northern Canada 

Whatever Happened To … The Melting Permafrost?   0893 KPCCC, Nadia Whitehead | NPR | September 6, 2020 “…………… It’s not just warmer temperatures that pose a problem for the permafrost. Scientists are now investigating whether rainfall could be causing serious issues in the Arctic’s permafrost – with repercussions for humans.

Since 2013, Fairbanks, Alaska, has had two of the wettest years in recorded history. A total ofo 14.6 inches of rain fell in the summer of 2014; it was the wettest summer yet. And that’s not a good thing for permafrost, says Thomas Douglas, a geochemist in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

Permafrost — completely frozen ground composed of materials like soil, rocks and even bones and plants — makes up a nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere. Much of it has been frozen for thousands of years.

Warming temperatures have begun to thaw permafrost, and now, increased rainfall seems to be intensifying the problem, according to Douglas’ latest study in Climate and Atmospheric Science, published in July.

“In general, across the arctic, the thought is that things are getting wetter,” Douglas says, but particularly in Fairbanks. “2014 and 2016 were the #1 and #3 summer precipitation years in what was then a 90-year record. Shattering records like this is just really unique.”……….

The thaw was worse in some locations more than others, depending on the terrain where measurements were taken. Forests and mossy landscapes seemed to protect the permafrost. There, for every additional inch of rain, the permafrost thawed by an additional quarter of an inch.

But in locations where human activity – such as trails and clearings — had altered the land, the thaw was worse. For every additional inch of rain, the researchers saw an additional inch of thaw. At one particular site, permafrost thaw depth grew from 47 inches in 2013 to nearly 75 inches in 2017.

Douglas explains, “When you remove vegetation, that’s like leaving the lid open on your cooler on a summer day. It allows heat and water to get down in the permafrost pretty rapidly.”

Out of all the team’s research, Douglas says their most important finding was that thinner layers of thawed permafrost seem to be vanishing — literally thawing away……….

Dmitry Streletskiy, a professor at George Washington University who specializes in permafrost, says that Douglas’s study is a great contribution to permafrost research. However, he emphasizes that the study was conducted in a boreal ecosystem, a sub-arctic region with warmer temperatures and relatively warm permafrost. ……..

Streletskiy agrees that permafrost is degrading on a global scale due to climate change. Its impacts are starting to show — and zombie pathogens shouldn’t be our only concern.

He and Douglas both point to the Norilsk oil spill in Russia, where an oil tank spewed more than 150,000 barrels of diesel into the arctic, and officials have been racing to clean it up. Many experts believe thawing permafrost is to blame; the oil tank, which sat on permafrost, collapsed in May.

What’s more, permafrost thaw can lead to deterioration in infrastructure, such as pipelines, railroads and homes, Streletskiy explains. “Small changes in temperature can affect how much weight a foundation built on permafrost can support. Say for example at -10 degrees, the foundation can support 100 tons, but at -8 degrees, it can only support 50 tons.”

For people who don’t live near the oil spill or in arctic regions, it’s easy to forget about permafrost. “Out of sight, out of mind,” Douglas says. But the thaw could one day affect everyone.

An estimated 1,400 to 1,600 billion metric tons of carbon are currently frozen in the permafrost. “There are a lot of questions about what’s going to happen when that [carbon]starts to thaw,” Douglas says………..

September 7, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch’s British papers delayed as climate protesters stop the presses

Rupert Murdoch’s British papers delayed as climate protesters stop the presses, SMH  6 Sept, 20,   London: Distribution of several British newspapers was disrupted on Saturday after climate change activists blockaded printworks used by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, publisher of The Times and The Sun, drawing condemnation from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.Extinction Rebellion said nearly 80 people had blocked roads leading to two printworks, at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, north east of London, and at Knowsley, near Liverpool. Hertfordshire police said they made 42 arrests and Merseyside police made 30.

The Murdoch-owned Newsprinters works also print the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times. Campaigners said they had taken the action to highlight what they regard as the newspapers’ failure to accurately report on climate change. ……….

The blockade was part of more than a week of protests by Extinction Rebellion, which says an emergency response and mass move away from polluting industries and behaviours is needed to avert a looming climate cataclysm.

On Saturday it also protested in central London, including holding a “die-in” in front of Buckingham Palace, where demonstrators lay under white sheets to represent corpses. ……..

September 7, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment