Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Climate change protesters disrupt parliamentary question time

 https://www.sbs.com.au/news/climate-change-protesters-disrupt-parliamentary-question-time 15 Feb 19, Protesters complaining about what they see as a lack of action on climate change have tried to disrupt federal parliament during question time. Climate protesters have disrupted question time in federal parliament, with at least 10 people in the public galleries standing up to shout at politicians.

The first was applauded on Thursday as he yelled about “record-breaking droughts and bushfires” before being removed by security as another activist stood up to take his place.

Ministers ploughed on with their answers amid the shouting, while backbenchers looked up at the disturbance. One woman singled out Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott, telling them they would be judged harshly as Mr Joyce smiled and waved to her.

Standing up one after another across the three public galleries, others said, “stop lying to us”, that their children and grandchildren would suffer and “take urgent action … you should get arrested for what you’re doing”.

The Coffs Coast Climate Action Group claimed credit, saying they wanted to deliver a statement from their community and call on MPs to examine their conscience.

One of the group, Uniting Church deacon Jason John, said it was cynical of politicians including the prime minister to ask Australians to pray for rain in a time of record drought as if God controls every drop, while not doing anything to act on climate change.

“I am not afraid of a lump of coal but I am afraid that some of our nation’s leaders seem to worship it,” Dr John said in a statement

During Julia Gillard’s prime ministership, multiple question times were interrupted by protesters against the so-called carbon tax.

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February 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

Queensland government rebukes Adani over endangered finch 

Guardian, Ben Smee, @BenSmee, 15 Feb 2019  Indian miner playing politics instead of participating in scientific process, says deputy premier Jackie Trad  The Adani mining group has chosen to “run a political campaign” rather than engage with the Queensland government about its plans to protect the endangered black-throated finch, the state’s deputy premier has said.

On Friday, Adani launched a pre-emptive attack on the findings of an independent review of its conservation plans to protect the finch at the Carmichael mine site…….

Speaking in Townsville on Friday afternoon, the Queensland deputy premier and treasurer, Jackie Trad, said Adani should raise any concerns it had about the draft report with the Department of Environment and Scienc e……….

The Australian Conservation Foundation said the government must “stay the course” and not cave in to corporate bullying.

“The black-throated finch is now found in only 12% of its historical range and Adani’s mine would devastate its best remaining habitat,” campaigner Christian Slattery said.

“Adani’s tantrum at the Queensland government is a clear demonstration of the company’s contempt for science and our native wildlife. If Adani’s management plans for the black-throated finch aren’t scientifically robust, they should not get approved. It’s that simple.” https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/15/queensland-government-rebukes-adani-over-endangered-finch

February 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment

Mental health issues in Kimba community divided by nuclear waste dump proposal

Nuclear waste site selection process triggers mental health concerns, business boycotts and division, FOI documents reveal https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-13/foi-documents-show-kimba-divided-over-nuclear-waste-site/10807462  ABC North and West By Gary-Jon Lysaght   (FOI documents are attached on the original) Freedom of Information (FOI) documents reveal the Federal Government has been aware of potential mental health issues, from as early as 2017, caused by the search for a site to store the nation’s nuclear waste.The Federal Government is currently considering two sites at Kimba and one near Hawker for a facility that would permanently store low-level waste and temporarily store medium-level waste.

Kimba, a small town on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, has been divided on whether to support or oppose the facility. Some residents believe the facility could help bring much-needed business to the rural town, while others suggest it could damage the region’s agricultural reputation.

“Many of the opposed group have raised the issue of mental health in submissions and direct discussions,” the FOI documents, written in 2017, said.

They believe mental health issues are arising in Kimba due to the stress of being in this process.

“These issues have been raised with the Kimba doctor and counsellor.”

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick obtained the Freedom of Information documents and hoped the concerns were a catalyst for change.

“In my view, that creates a very strong obligation for the Government to act,” he said.

“They’ve clearly known about this issue since 2017 and it is now time to ask the minister exactly what he is doing in relation to that.”

Industry, Innovation and Science Minister, Matt Canavan, is responsible for determining which site should be chosen for the facility.

“If anyone in Kimba advises they have concerns about their health, they can be referred to the Kimba Mental Health and Wellbeing Group,” a department spokesman said.  “Following a Community Benefit Program application, that group received funding of $30,000 for Healthy Mind Healthy Community workshops to improve resilience, mental health and wellbeing.”

Site selection process ongoing

The site selection process has been put on hold since traditional owners took the District Council of Kimba to court over a proposed community ballot on support for the facility.

The Barngarla Native Title Determination Aboriginal Corporation took the matter to the Federal Court because not all native title holders were included in the ballot.

A decision will be made on the court action this year, with Native Title holders claiming the ballot would breach the Racial Discrimination Act.

owever, an early technical assessment gave the Napandee property a score of 90, while Lyndhurst received 82.

“Both sites were ranked as ‘highly suitable’ by the initial desktop assessment,” the FOI documents said.

“This assessment involved a multi-criteria site assessment where the sites were evaluated against criteria of health, safety, security, environment protection, equity, economic viability, and stable environment.

“On balance, it is recommended that if there is a decision to proceed, both sites should be taken forward.

“If only one site is taken forward, it is recommended to be Napandee.”

This is despite a consultation in 2016, mentioned in the documents, found “that the Lyndhurst site was preferred by the community”.

“Given the perception it is ‘further out of town’ and on less productive land, but there is no strong basis for this assessment.”

Community divided

The documents also revealed that the Federal Government was aware of the “strong division” within Kimba that the site selection process was causing.

“It is unlikely community views will change significantly in the short to medium term, with a block of around 40 per cent persistently strongly opposed,” the documents said. “There is strong division in the town and this is expected to continue and may become more vocal in the short term.”

Jeff Baldock owns Napandee, the site indicated to be preferred by the Federal Government in the FOI documents.

“It’s been a very long process,” he said.

“When it first started out, there was probably a few things that could have been done better.

“But as it’s gone along, everyone’s had plenty of opportunity to find out what they want to know.”

Mr Baldock said there had been “vague references” to mental health concerns. (Below: Jeff Baldock and family) 

“But I’ve never actually spoken to anyone who feels particularly that way and I know that the department did have an open offer that they could contact them.”

Peter Woolford is Chair of No Radioactive Waste on Agricultural Land in Kimba or South Australia, an organisation against the facility.

He said there was no doubt that the site selection process had caused mental health concerns within the community.

“We’ve lost people from our community because of it,” he said.

“People I speak to are reluctant to go into Kimba much these days.

“It’s disappointing to say the least that if you went up the street and tried to have a conversation about the nuclear waste facility from people from opposite sides, you wouldn’t get much of a conversation.”

Boycotting businesses

Another section of the documents found there had been some cases of businesses being boycotted by locals if the owner either supported or opposed the facility.

“Business owners have noted that boycotting of businesses by the opposed group is occurring,” the documents said.

“While these claims may be exaggerated, this would appear valid and detrimental to the town.”

The ABC has also been told that those opposed to the facility were boycotting businesses that supported it.

It has also been told that up to 90 per cent of businesses at Kimba supported the facility.

Senator Patrick was concerned about the impact boycotting businesses could have on a town like Kimba.

“Kimba is a very small township and the last thing you want to have is animosity developing across members of the community,” he said.

“To the point where they simply won’t go and shop in a particular shop because of someone’s view on this issue.”

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, South Australia | Leave a comment

Anti nuclear campaigner Eileen Wani Wingfield honoured posthumously at the 2018 SA Environment Awards. 

Family accepts Lifetime Achiever Award in Eileen’s honour  https://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/5892492/eileen-wingfield-honoured-as-a-conservation-legend/?cs=1538&fbclid=IwAR0EgYbVPqxhd1EkhHXcL5Z-k8cuWyWWjDAHvuJznCeeDlliHoOudQ1toSo#slide=1, Amy Green, 13 Feb 19, 

February 14, 2019 Posted by | personal stories, South Australia | 1 Comment

Court judgment a precedent for climate to weigh more than coal business in legal cases?

Landmark Rocky Hill ruling could pave the way for more courts to choose climate over coal, ABC, The Conversation By Justine Bell-James, 12 Feb 19, On Friday, Chief Judge Brian Preston of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court handed down a landmark judgementconfirming a decision to refuse a new open-cut coal mine near Gloucester in the Hunter Valley.

The proposed Rocky Hill mine’s contribution to climate change was one of the key reasons cited for refusing the application.

The decision has prompted celebration among environmentalists, for whom climate-based litigation has long been an uphill battle.

Defeating a mining proposal on climate grounds involves clearing several high hurdles.

Generally speaking, the court must be convinced not only that the proposed mine would contribute to climate change, but also that this issue is relevant under the applicable law.

To do this, a litigant needs to convince a court of a few key things, which include that:

  • the proponent is responsible for the ultimate burning of the coal, even if it is burned by a third party, and
  • this will result in increased greenhouse emissions, which in turn contributes to climate change.

In his judgement, Judge Preston took a broad view and readily connected these causal dots, ruling that:

The project’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions will contribute to the global total of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. The global total of GHG concentrations will affect the climate system and cause climate change impacts. The project’s cumulative GHG emissions are therefore likely to contribute to the future changes to the climate system and the impacts of climate change.

Other courts (such as in Queensland, where the proposed Adani coalmine has successfully cleared various legal hurdles) have tended to take a narrower approach to statutory interpretation, with climate change just one of numerous relevant factors under consideration.

In contrast, Judge Preston found climate change to be one of the more important factors to consider under NSW legislation.

To rule against a coalmine on climate grounds, the court also needs to resist the “market substitution” argument — the suggestion that if the proponent does not mine and sell coal, someone else will.

This argument has become a common “defence” in climate litigation, and indeed was advanced by Gloucester Resources in the Rocky Hill case.

Judge Preston rejected the argument, describing it as “flawed”. He noted that there is no certainty that overseas mines will substitute for the Rocky Hill coalmine.

Given increasing global momentum to tackle climate change, he noted that other countries may well follow this lead in rejecting future coalmine proposals.

He also stated that:

An environmental impact does not become acceptable because a hypothetical and uncertain alternative development might also cause the same unacceptable environmental impact……..

This decision potentially opens up a new chapter in Australia’s climate litigation history.

Judge Preston’s ruling nimbly vaults over hurdles that have confounded Australian courts in the past — most notably, the application of the market substitution defence.

It is hard to predict whether his decision will indeed have wider ramifications.

Certainly the tide is turning internationally — coal use is declining, many nations have set ambitious climate goals under the Paris Agreement, and high-level overseas courts are making bold decisions in climate cases.

As Judge Preston concluded:

An open-cut coal mine in this part of the Gloucester valley would be in the wrong place at the wrong time … the GHG emissions of the coal mine and its coal product will increase global total concentrations of GHGs at a time when what is now urgently needed, in order to meet generally agreed climate targets, is a rapid and deep decrease in GHG emissions.

Indeed, it is high time for a progressive approach to climate cases too.

Hopefully this landmark judgement will signal the turning of the tides in Australian courts as well.

Justine Bell-James is a senior lecturer at The University of Queensland. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-12/rocky-hill-ruling-more-courts-choose-climate-over-coal/10802930

February 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Surveillance of anti-nuclear writers in Australia

Dan Monceaux shared a link.Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 13 Feb 19, 
During 2016, towards the end of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, it became abundantly clear that I was under watch day and night.

Now in 2019, after nearly three successive years of detectable surveillance, I finally got around to requesting my ASIO file. You might like to do the same… especially if you’ve been following or participating in political or scientific discussions related to nuclear energy or weapons for longer than I have.

When I inquired about the process, the National Archives advised me “If you think ASIO may hold records on yourself, please complete and submit this Intelligence or surveillance records inquiry form http://reftracker.naa.gov.au/reft100.aspx?key=05ASIORef. “

February 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties | Leave a comment

In New South Wales, government lets mining companies dodge costs for site rehabilitation.

NSW ‘accounting trick’ lets miners dodge appropriate rehabilitation costs, Guardian, Ben Smee


Lock the Gate accuses state government of placing interests of mining sector over those of taxpayers   New South Wales taxpayers could be shortchanged up to $500m by a state government “accounting trick” that allows mining companies to dodge paying appropriate contingency costs for site rehabilitation.A 2017 report by the NSW auditor general found that security deposits paid by miners for future rehabilitation were inadequate and made several recommendations, including that the “contingency” costs be increased.

Though not part of the formal recommendation, the report said contingency costs should range from 25% to 50% (of the estimated total rehabilitation cost).

The environmental group Lock the Gate has obtained a letter, through Freedom of Information, that shows the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment told a parliamentary committee last year it had accepted all of the auditor general’s recommendations, and that it had already increased contingency costs.

The department told Guardian Australia this week it had increased “contingencies” to 30%. But it later clarified that figure included “contingency” and two other metrics – project management costs and post-project environmental monitoring – which were dealt with separately by the audit.

The amount for “contingency” remains at the previous level of 10%.

Rick Humphries, the mine rehabilitation coordinator at Lock the Gate, said the new arrangements were “an accounting sleight of hand” that had the effect of not forcing mining companies to meet the standards outlined by the audit….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/14/nsw-accounting-trick-lets-miners-dodge-appropriate-rehabilitation-costs

February 14, 2019 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

Queensland government investigating Adani again, about coal terminal water release

Adani facing government probe into latest coal terminal water release into wetlands, ABC News 

Key points:

  • Adani has not applied for an emergency water release permit for Abbot Point
  • Water flowed into Caley Valley wetlands this month after monsoonal rain
  • The Queensland Government is prosecuting Adani over a 2017 wetland water release

It comes as Adani revealed it did not apply for an emergency permit to dump more polluted water into the sensitive Caley Valley wetlands during the north Queensland floods last week.

The company told the ABC that Abbot Point operators were confident they could manage floodwaters with new infrastructure, but were then overwhelmed by flows from neighbouring properties.

Adani’s own testing showed water released into the wetlands on February 7 had almost double the authorised concentration of “suspended solids”, which included coal sediment……….

‘2017 release eight times over limit’Adani is fighting a prosecution by the department over its 2017 release of coal-laden water from the port during Cyclone Debbie.

The department alleges Adani breached a temporary emissions licence (TEL) by dumping water with more than 800mg/L — eight times the authorised concentration of suspended solids……….

Conservationists called on the Queensland Government to launch a second prosecution of Adani over Abbot Point.

Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner Lissa Schindler said the company had “shown that it cannot be trusted with our precious reef”.

She criticised Adani’s advertising campaign designed to pressure the government into granting final approvals of its Carmichael coal project.

Ms Schindler said Adani instead “should have been ensuring its port was able to cope with Queensland’s extreme weather events”.

Mackay Conservation Group campaigner Peter McCallum said: “If you own and operate a port in Queensland on our precious Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, you must make sure it can withstand big storms.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-13/adani-facing-government-probe-abbot-point-wetland-release/10805206

February 14, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Heated exchange at Adani media event  

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/heated-exchange-at-adani-media-event  A press conference to showcase the support of indigenous traditional owners for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine has served to show divided opinions on the project.

A fiery war of words has broken out at a press conference designed to highlight the support of Indigenous traditional owners for Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine.

Spokesman for the Wangan and Jagalingou people of central Queensland, Patrick Malone, spoke up about the benefits of the project, including a boost to local employment alongside Resources Minister Matt Canavan at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday.

He stressed that traditional owners voted 294-to-1 in favour of establishing a land use agreement with Adani in 2016.

They did that because there are long-term benefits for Wangan and Jagalingou people,” Mr Malone told reporters.

But he was soon interrupted by fellow Wangan and Jagalingou representative Murrawah Johnson.

“Not appropriate,” Ms Johnson declared upon arriving at the scene.

Ms Johnson accused Mr Malone of having no right to represent her people, because of a native title claim still in dispute.

But Mr Malone rejected the view, lamenting that “loud mouth people” were overshadowing the majority view of traditional owners.

“Look after country,” Ms Johnson urged Mr Malone.

I know all about that,” he replied.

With the exchange showing no signs of cooling down, Senator Canavan swiftly wrapped up the conference, with security arriving to usher away the interrupters. They did that because there are long-term benefits for Wangan and Jagalingou people,” Mr Malone told reporters.

But he was soon interrupted by fellow Wangan and Jagalingou representative Murrawah Johnson.

“Not appropriate,” Ms Johnson declared upon arriving at the scene.

Ms Johnson accused Mr Malone of having no right to represent her people, because of a native title claim still in dispute.

But Mr Malone rejected the view, lamenting that “loud mouth people” were overshadowing the majority view of traditional owners.

“Look after country,” Ms Johnson urged Mr Malone.

“I know all about that,” he replied.

With the exchange showing no signs of cooling down, Senator Canavan swiftly wrapped up the conference, with security arriving to usher away the interrupters.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia and water: the driest inhabited continent in the age of climate change

Australia is the canary, and the coalmine, for the world when it comes to water stress, Guardian,  R Keller Kopf  , 11 Feb 19,

As extreme climate events happen around the world, Australian communities are running out of water

The skies are brass and the plains are bare,

Death and ruin are everywhere—

And all that is left of the last year’s flood

Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud;

The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver,

And this is the dirge of the Darling River.”

— Henry Lawson (1891)

The northern hemisphere faced a polar vortex, while Australia during December and January was the hottest on record. People and the environment are suffering at both ends of the planet because of the extreme events.

Australia’s heatwave has exposed cracks in our unsustainable water, land-use and climate policies.

Fish kills in the Darling River, followed by more in other waterways, are being blamed on drought. More than one million fish died following multiple events in December and January.

The public has been aghast. The catalyst for outrage has been viral videos of hundreds of Murray cod floating dead and being displayed by angry locals. Murray cod is an icon of Australian waterways and one of the world’s largest species of freshwater fish. The biggest Murray cod – allegedly 114kg – was caught in 1902, during the federation drought in a tributary of the Darling, near Walgett.

But extreme conditions and fish kills are natural here in the “land of drought and flooding rains”, right?

The Darling is the longest river on the driest inhabited continent – prone to harsh and variable conditions. Lawson’s 1891 poem, which followed one year after the largest flood, is used often to depict the naturally occurring extreme conditions of our rivers. Indeed, European explorers who set off to chart flows to the “great inland sea” were surprised instead to discover a drought-stricken river – the Darling. Though the water was too salty to drink, it abounded with pelicans, swans, ducks and leaping fish.

Heatwaves and drought have always occurred here but unsustainable levels of water extraction and climate change are much more recent. Vast quantities of water are now extracted and used, during drought and flood, to irrigate crops including rice and cotton.

The amount of water used for irrigated agriculture varies, but ranged from about 50% of all flows in the Murray during the 1980s and 90s, to more than 76% during the Millennium Drought. Standards for healthy rivers are debated, but extraction of more than 20% of flows typically results in adverse changes to biodiversity and the benefits people derive from clean water.

Worldwide the demand for fresh water is expected to increase by 55% by 2050.

Australia is experiencing this water stress now. We are thus a canary, and the coalmine, for the rest of the world………..

There is plenty of water to go around for people and the environment, but not enough to simultaneously sustain the current irrigation entitlements.

Banning cotton and rice and degrading farmers will not solve the problem.

What will solve it is reducing total water entitlements for irrigation and increasing flows for rivers and wetlands.

Environmental flows have expanded in many regions, but the Darling and northern-basin still seem to be a wild west of water extraction. Minimum environmental flow standards have either not been in place or have been insufficient to sustain dry-land rivers. Minimum flow standards and policies around land use and run-off must be sufficiently robust to prevent further large-scale blue-green algae events, which are the proximate causes of the current hypoxia and fish kills.

The best available science reviewed by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has recommend an increase in environmental flows, to a minimum of 3,200 GL per year to maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems.

So, what can the world learn from our experience on the driest inhabited continent?……….

Subsidies that perpetuate the – hydro-illogical – cycle of unsustainable irrigation around the world should stop being funded. Instead, funding for communities must be targeted at helping farmers adapt and growing industries that will be viable during water scarcity, climate change and extreme conditions. Regional communities and freshwater ecosystems are much more than irrigation ditches and will thrive if presented with new opportunities.

If global carbon emissions remain high, the 48.3C record temperature in Bourke, situated near the Darling River, a few weeks ago should be expected to become 50C or 51C by 2090. Temperatures in Death Valley are sometimes that hot, but then again no one is growing cotton or cod there.

This does not have to be the dirge of the Darling, regional communities or farming. But it is time for change.

 

February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Adani ramps up propaganda war, intimidation of activists

Green Left , Margaret Gleeson, February 8, 2019
“Adani is continuing to run advertisements and opinion pieces in newspapers, along with paying for huge billboards in Brisbane, all talking up the supposed jobs that the proposed mine will create. …
Adani is also facing a legal challenge in the Federal Court by the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council (W&J TO), which is due to be heard in May. …
The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) criticised Adani’s latest management plan covering the black-throated finch on January 22. …
The nationwide movement against Adani is gearing up for a busy few months. A national mobilisation is being organised to coincide with the first sitting day of federal parliament in Canberra on February 12. …
The Stand Up 2 Aurizon group is planning an action directed at the rail and port aspects of the project in Bowen from February 23 to March 3.
The next major national mobilisation will be the School Strike 4 Climate on March 15. …
Grey Power Climate Protectors, among others, will be targeting the seats of Melbourne and Brisbane for 50 days leading up to the federal elections. In NSW, anti-coal activists are targeting a number of marginal seats in the lead-up to the March state election. … “
 www.greenleft.org.au/content/adani-ramps-propaganda-war-intimidation-activists

February 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear Engineering company Frazer Nash increasing its pro nuclear lobbying in Australia

Steve Dale, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 11 Feb 19 
First we had UCL here lobbying for nuclear. Now we have an increased presence of “Frazer-Nash Consultancy”. Is this just another way of influencing a government from within? Is the ultimate art of lobbying when you get the target of the lobbying to pay you as a consultant? The page below is a bit of a concern – it mentions Ben Heard several times as “latest news”; it also involves the Premier and talks about the Federal “low level” nuclear dump –

“Since opening its first Australian office in 2010 Frazer-Nash has supported high-profile South Australian projects including ……. the Federal Government’s initiative to develop a low level radioactive waste disposal facility, …..”
https://www.fncaustralia.com.au/…/south-australia-premier-o…

February 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Extreme weather in Australia – the economic effects : why we need to prepare for this

Storm-o-nomics: Why Australia should be more prepared for extreme weather, The Conversation, By Matt Wade
February 9, 2019  Another Australian summer has been marked by disasters triggered by extreme weather. Some came out of the blue, like the Townsville floods. Others unfolded gradually, like the droughtafflicting much of eastern Australia.

But there’s one characteristic our natural disasters have in common: their high price tag when compared with the rest of the world.

The World Disasters Report 2018, prepared by the Red Cross, found Australia was ranked 10th in the world for the cost of damage caused by disasters between 2008 and 2017. It estimated our disaster damage bill over that decade to be a hefty $US27 billion ($38 billion).

A separate study by London-based charity Christian Aid rated Australia’s lingering drought as the world’s seventh most costly weather-related disaster of 2018 (between US$5.8 and $9 billion).

We’re also located in world’s most disaster-prone region. The Asia Pacific was hit by two out of every five of the 335 disasters recorded worldwide in 2017 and suffered 58 per cent of disaster-related deaths, according to the Red Cross.

The headlines typically focus on the insurance losses caused by property damage following a calamity like the Townsville floods.

recent report by consultancy SGS Economics and Planning for insurance company IAG tallied the insurance losses in Australia due to natural perils between 1970 and 2013.

During those decades storms caused the greatest losses (27 per cent of the total) followed by hail damage (21 per cent), floods (18 per cent), tropical cyclones (18 per cent) and bushfires (10 per cent).

But there’s a difference between insurance losses due to extreme weather and the broader economic cost. Insurance losses following natural disasters only capture the losses accruing to insured assets such as homes, motor vehicles and business premises. That’s only part of the story.

The disruption caused by disasters changes the way businesses and consumers behave, sometimes for an extended period, causing losses to production that never show up in insurance claims. ……….

Professor Frank Jotzo, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University, says climate science shows Australians should expect more frequent, and more intense, extreme weather events due to climate change. He warns the effects of climate change will drag on the economy in two ways.

First, the destruction caused by more frequent extreme weather events, especially to public infrastructure, will require capital and labour to be diverted to rebuilding things we already have rather than creating new productive assets.

“It means we have to invest resources in things that don’t give us an additional economic output,” says Professor Jotzo.

Second, climate change will take a toll on productivity. One obvious example is the impact higher average temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns will have on agricultural production.

The health of employees, especially in cities, will be affected by more frequent and long-lasting heatwaves and that means more work days lost to illness.

“Heatwaves mean people are under greater stress and more prone to ill-health,” says Jotzo. “That’s a direct hit on the economy.”………..

So what can be done?

Rawnsley’s analysis shows governments have focused too much on post-disaster reconstruction while investing too little in mitigation.

“Out of ever $100 spent on disasters about $97 is spent post the disaster,” he says.

The upshot? A disaster-prone nation like Australia should be doing more to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/the-economy/storm-o-nomics-why-australia-should-be-more-prepared-for-extreme-weather-20190208-p50wln.html 

February 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

Psychological aspects of the fact that climate change has arrived in Australia

The climate crisis has arrived – so stop feeling guilty and start imagining your future  The Conversation, The Conversation Matthew Adams, Principal Lecturer in Psychology, University of Brighton February 7, 2019 

Evidence of the devastating impacts of anthropogenic climate change are stacking up, and it is becoming horrifyingly real. There can be no doubt that the climate crisis has arrived. Yet another “shocking new study” led The Guardian and various other news media this week. One-third of Himalayan ice cap, they report, is doomed.

Meanwhile in Australia, record summer temperatures have wrought unprecedented devastation of biblical proportions – mass deaths of horses, bats and fish are reported across the country, while the island state of Tasmania burns. In some places this version of summer is a terrifying new normal.

The climate disaster future is increasingly becoming the present – and, as the evidence piles up, it is tempting to ask questions about its likely public reception. Numerous psychological perspectives suggest that if we have already invested energy in denying the reality of a situation we experience as profoundly troubling, the closer it gets, the more effort we put into denying it.

While originally considered as a psychological response, denial and other defence mechanisms we engage in to keep this reality at bay and maintain some sense of “normality” can also be thought of as interpersonal, social and cultural. Because our relationships, groups and wider cultures are where we find support in not thinking, talking and feeling about that crisis. There are countless strategies for maintaining this state of knowing and not-knowing – we are very inventive.
The key point is that it prevents us from responding meaningfully. We “succeed” in holding the problem of what to do about the climate crisis at a “safe” distance. As the crisis becomes harder to ignore – just consider the current batch of shocking reports – individually and culturally we will dig deeper to find ways to strategically direct our inattention…………

When it comes to the climate crisis, the personal is political. I am talking about a politics that grows from opposition and critique of our current systems. This is evident in young people organising school strikes and protesters willing to get arrested for their direct action. But we also need to pay more attention to what is lost, to who and what we care for, to other possible ways of being.

Some conservation scientists, at least, see recent cultural change as a hopeful sign of a growing sense of care and responsibility. So stop feeling guilty, it’s not your fault. Be attentive to what’s going on, so that you might notice what you care about and why. What are you capable of, and what might we be capable of together, when we aren’t caught between knowing and not knowing, denial and distress?

See what obligations emerge. There are no guarantees. But what else do we do?  https://theconversation.com/the-climate-crisis-has-arrived-so-stop-feeling-guilty-and-start-imagining-your-future-111139?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton

February 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment

New South Wales Labor announces plan for 500,000 households to get rooftop solar

Labor announces plan for 500,000 households to get rooftop solar, https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/labor-announces-plan-for-500-000-households-to-get-rooftop-solar-20190209-p50wrl.html, By Laura Chung,February 9, 2019 NSW Labor has announced it will support a program to help 500,000 households to install rooftop solar, reducing electricity bills in the next 10 years.

Under Labor’s Solar Homes policy, owner-occupied households in NSW with a combined income of $180,000 or less would be eligible for a rebate, to be capped at $2200 per household.

Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Adam Searle, said the policy could add solar to an additional million homes over the next decade, and could save the average household anywhere between $600 and $1000 a year on electricity bills.

“This is a bold program to push NSW to the front of the energy revolution,” he said. “This will significantly cut electricity bills and carbon emissions.”

“We will have much more to say about energy and tackling climate change.”

The program would be phased in during the 2019-2020 financial year. The policy announcement comes ahead of the launch of Labor’s campaign bus, which will travel around the state from Sunday.

The Smart Energy Council said Labor’s policy addressed two of NSW residents’ main concerns: the cost of living and climate change.

It shows “a strong commitment towards climate change” and is a “sign of confidence in renewable energy, a critical part of NSW’s future,” a spokesman said.

The council said it would like to see a stronger commitment from both the NSW Government and the Opposition to supporting families’ purchases of household solar batteries, which would provide people “with a greater sense of control of power and how they use power.”

In a statement, deputy leader of NSW Liberals Dominic Perrottet said Labor “cannot be trusted” to deliver more affordable, reliable and clean energy, “with a history of energy cost blowouts and blunders”.

The NSW Coalition government “is getting on with the job of taking pressure off electricity prices, while maintaining energy security,” Mr Perrottet said.

February 10, 2019 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, solar | Leave a comment