Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s environmental scientists intimidated, silenced by threats of job loss


January 17, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, culture, Education, employment, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

The ecological knowledge of indigenous peoples

Land managers in Australia have adopted many of the fire-control practices of the aborigines and have partnered with native people.

While the skill of aborigines with fire had been noted before the giant brushfires – early settlers remarked on the “park-like” nature of the landscape – and studied before, it’s taken on new urgency. That’s why Australian land managers have adopted many of the ideas and partnered with native people as co-managers. The fire practices of the aborigines are also being taught and used in other countries.

Scientists have looked to Australian natives for other insights into the natural world. A team of researchers collaborated with natives based on their observations of kites and falcons that fly with flaming branches from a forest fire to start other fires. It’s well known that birds will hunt mice and lizards as they flee the flames of a wildfire. But stories among indigenous people in northern Australia held that some birds actually started fires by dropping a burning branch in unburned places. Based on this TEK, researchers watched and documented this behavior.

Aboriginal people “don’t see themselves as superior to or separated from animals. They are walking storehouses of knowledge”

Native Knowledge: What Ecologists Are Learning from Indigenous People

From Alaska to Australia, scientists are turning to the knowledge of traditional people for a deeper understanding of the natural world. What they are learning is helping them discover more about everything from melting Arctic ice, to protecting fish stocks, to controlling wildfires.   

While he was interviewing Inuit elders in Alaska to find out more about their knowledge of beluga whales and how the mammals might respond to the changing Arctic, researcher Henry Huntington lost track of the conversation as the hunters suddenly switched from the subject of belugas to beavers.

It turned out though, that the hunters were still really talking about whales. There had been an increase in beaver populations, they explained, which had reduced spawning habitat for salmon and other fish, which meant less prey for the belugas and so fewer whales.

“It was a more holistic view of the ecosystem,” said Huntington. And an important tip for whale researchers. “It would be pretty rare for someone studying belugas to be thinking about freshwater ecology.”

Around the globe, researchers are turning to what is known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to fill out an understanding of the natural world. TEK is deep knowledge of a place that has been painstakingly discovered by those who have adapted to it over thousands of years. “People have relied on this detailed knowledge for their survival,” Huntington and a colleague wrote in an article on the subject. “They have literally staked their lives on its accuracy and repeatability.”

Tapping into this traditional wisdom is playing an outsized role in the Arctic, where change is happening rapidly.

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April 27, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, culture, environment | Leave a comment

29 September REneweconomy news

  • Adani’s Whyalla 140MW solar plant set for construction in 2018Green industrial revolution continues at Whyalla, with Adani Group’s 140MW solar farm approved for construction.
  • Adelaide charged up as hub for electric vehicles
    The City of Adelaide is now a hub for South Australia’s electric vehicle charging network with eight fast charging stations opening today within a new dedicated EV parking area.
  • Hackett steps aside as chair, CEO of battery storage company Redflow
    Hackett steps down from twin roles at Redflow as company focuses on new manufacturing facility and cutting costs.
  • AGL looks at 250MW battery storage plant for Liddell
    AGL outlines plans to install 250MW of battery storage at Liddell, and to invest in Bayswater upgrade, new gas generators, demand response, and huge amount of wind and solar to replace Liddell.
  • Goulburn Council floats solar PV as a way to cut water costs
    Goulburn Council to commission feasibility studies into installing floating solar on government water stores, to slash power costs.
  • Graph of the Day: Green Bond issuance to soon pass $100 billion
    Green Bond issues expected to surpass $US100 billion for the first time in a single year in 2017.

September 29, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, culture | Leave a comment

Virtual reality film “Collisions” tells one Aboriginal man’s story of Maralinga nuclear bombing

Aboriginal man’s story of Maralinga nuclear bomb survival told with virtual reality By Alex Mann  ABC News, 7 Oct 16 In an unlikely collision of cultures, state-of-the-art 3D film technology is bringing an Aboriginal man’s unique tale of nuclear bomb survival to audiences across Australia.

In the 1950s Nyarri Morgan was a young man, walking and hunting in South Australia’s northern deserts. His dramatic first contact with whites came when he witnessed a nuclear bomb explosion at the British testing site at Maralinga.

Now, as an old man, and with the help of director Lynette Wallworth and some technology, he is sharing his story in a film called Collisions that is screening in selected venues around Australia.

“It happened in a desert where people assumed there were very few people [and] there was not much life and not much to be lost,” Wallworth said.

“Every one of those assumptions was wrong.”

‘People still have that poison today’  As the radioactive dust fell, Mr Morgan walked an ancient trade route at the edge of the test site. He had no idea of what he was witnessing.

In making the film, Wallworth asked Mr Morgan what he thought he was seeing. “He said, ‘We thought it was the spirit of our gods rising up to speak with us’,” she said. “[He said] ‘then we saw the spirit had made all the kangaroos fall down on the ground as a gift to us of easy hunting so we took those kangaroos and we ate them and people were sick and then the spirit left’.”

Mr Morgan is sharing his story, in his words, so it won’t ever be forgotten. “After the explosion the fallout went north,” Mr Morgan said. “Powder, white powder killed a lot of kangaroos [and] spinifex [grass]. Water was on fire, that’s what we saw.”

Mr Morgan said water “died” but that he and the two men he was with drank the water, even though it was still hot. “The smoke went into our noses, and other people still have that poison today,” he said.

“We all poisoned, in the heart, in the blood and other people that were much closer they didn’t live very long, they died, a whole lot of them.”     ‘In virtual reality everything becomes personal’………..

October 8, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, culture, history, South Australia | Leave a comment

Art exhibition Black Mist Burnt Country explores consequences of Maralinga atomic bomb tests

Black Mist Burnt Country asks: what remains after the mushroom cloud? The Conversation,   Joanna Mendelssohn is a Friend of The Conversation. September 28, 2016 Two drawings by Judy Watson make sense of it all. Bomb Drawing 1 and Bomb Drawing 5 are small shadows of light ash on the pages of a sketchbook. They seem so fragile, so small, so empty. Yet their very stillness in what is an often crowded and confused display gives them a sense of authority.

Black Mist Burnt Country is a national touring exhibition devised to commemorate one of the great crimes against this country – the wilful poisoning of the land and its people by the British Government with the active collusion of the Australian Government. The full extent of the British experiments with atomic weapons on Australian soil took decades to be fully exposed.

The nuclear tests took place over a number of years – starting at Monte Bello in 1952, rolling on to Emu Field and then Maralinga 60 years ago – yet it was not until the 1980s that a Royal Commission headed by James McClelland finally revealed the full extent of the poisoning of both land and people……..

Jessie Boylan’s photographs show both sides to the consequences of this crime. In one, Avon Hudson, the former RAAF officer who publicly exposed the extent of British culpability and Australian complicity, sits in his study, surrounded by cardboard boxes. In the other Yami Lester, who as a child was blinded by the mist, stands staring into the sun with his sightless eyes. Lester also appears in Belinda Mason’s Maralinga, an alarming 3D lenticular holographic photograph, that focuses on Lester’s open unseeing eye.

Trevor Nickolls’ painting Revenge of the Stormboy shows the little children caught in the wild chaos of nuclear devastation, and the sense of anger the wider Aboriginal community feels about what happened to the Anangu people, whose land was so lightly taken away from them.

Some of the most moving paintings are by Jonathan Kumintjarra Brown, who was born at the Ooldea Mission but stolen and raised in Melbourne and Sydney. When he was an adult he found his family at Yalata, where the Anangu people had been moved because of the tests. His painting Maralinga has the truth of the land partly obliterated by the bombs while a lizard’s skeleton represents the loss of life…….

September 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, culture | Leave a comment

Maralinga: art exhibition raises the question- what has changed in pro nuclear activities?

see-this.wayArt exhibition to mark 60th anniversary of nuclear testing in Maralinga asks what has changed ABC Central Victoria  By Larissa Romensky , 22 Sept 16,  A national touring exhibition of artwork marks 60 years after the British government exploded an atomic bomb in South Australia’s outback.

On September 27, 1956 the British government conducted its first atomic test at Maralinga.

In total, seven nuclear bomb blasts were detonated between 1956 and 1967 in the southern part of the Great Victoria Desert in South Australia followed by more than 600 “minor tests”.

These were not the first nuclear tests to be conducted in Australia, but the term Maralinga, an Aboriginal word for thunder, became the name associated with this chapter in Australian history.

Black Mist Burnt Country, is a national touring exhibition that revisits the events and its location through the work of more than 30 Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists.

Curator JD Mittman said the title refers to the “mysterious” black mist that hovered over the country after the first test at Emu Field in South Australia in 1953 that “badly” affected Aboriginal families at Wallatinna.

“[Yankunytjatjara man] Yami Lester testified that people got very sick, some died, and he lost his eyesight,” Mr Mittman said.

Burnt country was in reference to the enormous heat generated by an atomic bomb blast, 1,000 times hotter than the sun.

“The blast melts the ground to glass, also called Trinitide, after the Trinity test ," he said.

Inspired by Jonathan Kumintjarra Brown

Jonathan Kumintjara Brown was a member of the stolen generation and later in life connected with his family in South Australia and found out about the atomic testing of his traditional land.

Mr Mittman said the exhibition was originally inspired by the artist's work entitled Marilinga before the atomic test.

"The question that came to mind immediately was: if there's a work that depicts the country before the atomic tests then surely there must be work that is also about the period after or during the tests," he said.

The work in the exhibition spans seven decades from across the globe from the first atomic test in Hiroshima to the present day, from both private and public collections........

September 23, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, culture | Leave a comment

Portrait of a nuclear whistleblower

Art exhibition to mark 60th anniversary of nuclear testing in Maralinga asks what has changed ABC Central Victoria  By Larissa Romensky , 22 Sept 16 “….Portrait of a whistleblower

One of the exhibiting artists is Castlemaine’s Jessie Boylan who contributed her portrait of whistleblower Avon Hudson in his “room of archives”, surrounded by objects, newspaper articles, documents, and photos related to Maralinga.

“It’s a portrait of a man who has always stood by his convictions,” Boylan said.

In 1960 Mr Hudson was a 23-year-old RAAF leading aircraftman who arrived at Maralinga after the British had stopped testing the A-bombs and started the “minor trials”, which resulted in the scattering of plutonium, uranium and beryllium across the desert.

“He wasn’t aware of the dangers of working on that site and then it wasn’t until later on that he realised all of his mates where dying in their 20s,” Boylan said.

This prompted his disclosure to the media of what he had witnessed, and ultimately providing testimony to the royal commission into British nuclear testing in Australia.

“His life has been dedicated to advocating for nuclear veterans as well as the Anangu people of Maralinga, and becoming an advocate and activist about nuclear issues in Australia,” Boylan said.

Nuclear issue still relevant today

Mr Mittman hoped the exhibition would bring this chapter of Australian history to the attention of the Australian public and remind them that the nuclear issue was still relevant today.

“The country to a large degree is still contaminated; the traditional owners, even though they have been handed back the land, cannot live there,” he said.

“I mean you can pass through there but for generations to come this country has been damaged.”

He said the Australian story was not an isolated story and referenced nuclear testing around the world including Nevada, French testing in the South Pacific, and Russian testing in Kazakhstan to name a few.

With the current discussion around whether South Australia should build a high-level nuclear waste dump he said “the past is very much on people’s minds”.

“The nuclear threat still hasn’t gone away with the end of the Cold War; in fact experts say the situation is more precarious now than it ever has been before,” Mr Mittman said.

Black Mist, Burnt Country opens on September 24 at the National Trust SH Ervin Gallery, NSW and will tour nationally.

September 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, culture | Leave a comment