Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Morrison government’s devastating cuts to Environmental research and teaching

‘Devastating’: The Morrison government cuts uni funding for environment courses by almost 30%, The Conversation,    Dianne Gleeson, Professor, Science, University of Canberra, Ian Clark, Associate professor, University of South Australia, Stuart Parsons, Professor, Queensland University of Technology, 14 Oct 20
  1. There has been much attention on how the Morrison government’s university funding reforms will increase the cost of humanities degrees. But another devastating change has passed almost unnoticed: a 29% cut to funding to environmental studies courses. This is one of the largest funding cuts to any university course.

    Universities will receive almost A$10,000 less funding per year for each student undertaking environmental studies. The cut will undoubtedly lead to fewer students and lower-quality learning experiences.

    Environmental studies encompasses the biological and earth sciences, as well as management and planning. Graduates go on to work as government policy officers, and managers in fields including water resources, the environment, urban planning and climate change adaption.

    We are senior members of the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, with more than 80 years of collective experience in various environmental fields. At a time of unprecedented pressures on our environment, expertise in these fields is clearly needed more than ever. ………..Until now, Australia has been a world leader in training the next generation of environmental managers and scientists. Thirty of our universities have recently been rated as producing research in environmental science significantly above world standard. And environmental science at four Australian universities – Australian National University, University of Melbourne, UNSW and University of Sydney – was recently ranked in the top 50 worldwide.

    Without adequate funding, this global standing is threatened.

    The bigger picture

    Fewer and less well-trained environmental studies students will inevitably have a knock-on effect in sectors and industries that need quality graduates with specialist environmental knowledge, such as:

    1. local, state and federal government, to ensure developments are sustainable and broadly benefit communities

  2. agriculture, to address threats as diverse as water quality in the Great Barrier Reef, better retention of nitrogen fertilisers in soils and adaptation to climate change
  3. mining, for advice on site planning and restoration to ensure minimal environmental harm during and after the mine’s operation
  4. water management in rivers and wetlands, to respond to climate change and higher demand from growing populations…….

    We need environmental experts

    Australia’s recent, brutal experience with bushfires and drought shows just how badly we need world-class environmental expertise. As climate change grows ever worse, these experts will be critical in steering us through these challenges.

    What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic – linked to land clearing and more human-wildlife interaction – shows just what can happen under poor environmental management.

    Australia is uniquely vulnerable to climate change, and in 2019, recorded its worst-ever environmental conditions. These university funding cuts affect the people with the answers to our pressing environmental problems – they are a blow to the future of all Australians.


    Read more: A major scorecard gives the health of Australia’s environment less than 1 out of 10   https://theconversation.com/devastating-the-morrison-government-cuts-uni-funding-for-environment-courses-by-almost-30-147852

October 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Global heating is affecting the Arctic much faster than expected

The Arctic is in a death spiral. How much longer will it exist?
The region is unravelling faster than anyone could once have predicted. But there may still be time to act

The great thaw: global heating upends life on Arctic permafrost – photo essay, Guardian, 
Gloria Dickie, Tue 13 Oct 2020 
At the end of July, 40% of the 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf, located on the north-western edge of Ellesmere Island, calved into the sea. Canada’s last fully intact ice shelf was no more.On the other side of the island, the most northerly in Canada, the St Patrick’s Bay ice caps completely disappeared.

Two weeks later, scientists concluded that the Greenland Ice Sheet may have already passed the point of no return. Annual snowfall is no longer enough to replenish the snow and ice loss during summer melting of the territory’s 234 glaciers. Last year, the ice sheet lost a record amount of ice, equivalent to 1 million metric tons every minute.

The Arctic is unravelling. And it’s happening faster than anyone could have imagined just a few decades ago. Northern Siberia and the Canadian Arctic are now warming three times faster than the rest of the world. In the past decade, Arctic temperatures have increased by nearly 1C. If greenhouse gas emissions stay on the same trajectory, we can expect the north to have warmed by 4C year-round by the middle of the century.

There is no facet of Arctic life that remains untouched by the immensity of change here, except perhaps the eternal dance between light and darkness. The Arctic as we know it – a vast icy landscape where reindeer roam, polar bears feast, and waters teem with cod and seals – will soon be frozen only in memory.

A new Nature Climate Change study predicts that summer sea ice floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean could disappear entirely by 2035. Until relatively recently, scientists didn’t think we would reach this point until 2050 at the earliest. Reinforcing this finding, last month Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest extent in the 41-year satellite record………

At outposts in the Canadian Arctic, permafrost is thawing 70 years sooner than predicted. Roads are buckling. Houses are sinking. In Siberia, giant craters pockmark the tundra as temperatures soar, hitting 100F (38C) in the town of Verkhoyansk in July. This spring, one of the fuel tanks at a Russian power plant collapsed and leaked 21,000 metric tons of diesel into nearby waterways, which attributed the cause of the spill to subsiding permafrost.

This thawing permafrost releases two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere and exacerbates planetary warming.

The soaring heat leads to raging wildfires, now common in hotter and drier parts of the Arctic. In recent summers, infernos have torn across the tundra of Sweden, Alaska, and Russia, destroying native vegetation………..

Melting ice has made the region’s abundant mineral deposits and oil and gas reserves more accessible by ship. China is heavily investing in the increasingly ice-free Northern Sea Route over the top of Russia, which promises to cut shipping times between the Far East and Europe by 10 to 15 days.

The Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago could soon yield another shortcut. And in Greenland, vanishing ice is unearthing a wealth of uranium, zinc, gold, iron and rare earth elements. In 2019, Donald Trump claimed he was considering buying Greenland from Denmark. Never before has the Arctic enjoyed such political relevance………….

Stopping climate change in the Arctic requires an enormous reduction in the emission of fossil fuels, and the world has made scant progress despite obvious urgency. Moreover, many greenhouse gases persist in our atmosphere for years. Even if we were to cease all emissions tomorrow, it would take decades for those gases to dissolve and for temperatures to stabilize (though some recent research suggests the span could be shorter). In the interim, more ice, permafrost, and animals would be lost.

“It’s got to be both a reduction in emissions and carbon capture at this point,” explains Stroeve. “We need to take out what we’ve already put in there.”………..

The Arctic of the past is already gone. Following our current climate trajectory, it will be impossible to return to the conditions we saw just three decades ago. Yet many experts believe there’s still time to act, to preserve what once was, if the world comes together to prevent further harm and conserve what remains of this unique and fragile ecosystem. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2020/oct/13/arctic-ice-melting-climate-change-global-warming?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco&fbclid=IwAR0SmRG-W9vZp_dvqJIA_s4rUHo4CXVjgWSgnapv_EsoboQgosU8OsTL78A

October 15, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Queensland shift to 100 per cent renewables feasible within 15-years — RenewEconomy

New analysis suggests Queensland could complete shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity in 15 years, with more than enough wind and solar PV in the pipeline. The post Queensland shift to 100 per cent renewables feasible within 15-years appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Queensland shift to 100 per cent renewables feasible within 15-years — RenewEconomy

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Greens renew call for Green New Deal, describe Morrison’s climate policies as “criminal” — RenewEconomy

Greens leader Adam Bandt says Australia missing out on chance to embrace Green New Deal in Covid response, calls Morrison government policies ‘criminal’. The post Greens renew call for Green New Deal, describe Morrison’s climate policies as “criminal” appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Greens renew call for Green New Deal, describe Morrison’s climate policies as “criminal” — RenewEconomy

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 14 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Mitch McConnell Leaves Kentucky Nearly Last In Everything While Drowning Democracy And US Progress In The Senate” • Kentucky is a coal state. What has happened to coal with Donald Trump in office is exactly what Hillary Clinton said. She had a plan. Donald Trump didn’t. He simply claimed that he would magically […]

October 14 Energy News — geoharvey

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar power is now “cheapest electricity in history”, says IEA — RenewEconomy

The IEA has finally twigged that solar is much cheaper than it thought – in fact, up to 50% cheaper than its estimates of just two years ago. The post Solar power is now “cheapest electricity in history”, says IEA appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Solar power is now “cheapest electricity in history”, says IEA — RenewEconomy

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The world is deciding on a post-covid energy pathway, and Angus Taylor isn’t ready for it — RenewEconomy

Australia is barely mentioned in IEA’s 2020 World Energy Outlook, and only to note the exposure of its coal and gas industry to the state of climate action around the world. The post The world is deciding on a post-covid energy pathway, and Angus Taylor isn’t ready for it appeared first on RenewEconomy.

The world is deciding on a post-covid energy pathway, and Angus Taylor isn’t ready for it — RenewEconomy

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Net zero targets change the game as IEA hails renewables as new “king” of electricity — RenewEconomy

IEA says renewables will emerge as the new “king of electricity” in latest World Energy Outlook, which for the first time looks at net zero target by 2050. The post Net zero targets change the game as IEA hails renewables as new “king” of electricity appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Net zero targets change the game as IEA hails renewables as new “king” of electricity — RenewEconomy

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CSIRO report questions Morrison’s faith in soil carbon due to warming climate — RenewEconomy

A new CSIRO assessment suggests climate change could compromise the Morrison government’s plans to reduce emissions through storage in ‘soil carbon’. The post CSIRO report questions Morrison’s faith in soil carbon due to warming climate appeared first on RenewEconomy.

CSIRO report questions Morrison’s faith in soil carbon due to warming climate — RenewEconomy

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment