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Australia bakes as record temperatures nudge 50C

‘It’s like hell here’: Australia bakes as record temperatures nudge 50C , Fears rise for homeless and vulnerable people as communities brace for another week of relentless hot weather , Guardian, Naaman Zhou,  @naamanzhou, Sun 20 Jan 2019

It was 48.9C last Tuesday in Port Augusta, South Australia, an old harbour city that now harvests solar power. Michelle Coles, the owner of the local cinema, took off her shoes at night to test the concrete before letting the dogs out. “People tend to stay at home,” she said. “They don’t walk around when it’s like this.”It’s easy to see why: in the middle of the day it takes seconds to blister a dog’s paw or child’s foot. In Mildura, in northern Victoria, last week gardeners burned their hands when they picked up their tools, which had been left in the sun at 46C. Fish were dying in the rivers.

Almost every day last week a new heat record was broken in Australia. They spread out, unrelenting, across the country, with records broken for all kinds of reasons – as if the statistics were finding an infinite series of ways to say that it was hot.

The community of Noona – population 14 – reached the highest minimum ever recorded overnight in Australia – 35.9C was the coldest it got, at 7am on Friday. It was 45C by noon.

A record fell on Tuesday in Meekatharra in Western Australia – the highest minimum there ever recorded (33C). Another fell on Wednesday, 2,000 miles away, in Albury, New South Wales – their hottest day (45.6C).

It was 45C or higher for four consecutive days in Broken Hill – another record – and more than 40C for the same time period in Canberra, the nation’s capital. Nine records fell across NSW on Wednesday alone. Back in Port Augusta, Tuesday was the highest temperature since records began in 1962………..

In South Australia, they declared a “code red” across Adelaide, the state capital. Homelessness services were working overtime and the Red Cross started calling round a list of 750 people who were deemed especially vulnerable

At the Australian Open in Melbourne, only the sea breeze kept the temperature below 40C. At Adelaide’s Tour Down Under, a bike race, it was 41C.

On Monday last week the hottest spot in New South Wales was Menindee, a river town that feeds the country’s largest water system, the Murray-Darling basin. It was 45C. It climbed to 47C on Wednesday, and by Thursday the fish were gasping.

Australia’s native Murray cod can live for decades under normal conditions, growing all the while. The oldest are a metre long, with heavy white bellies that have to be held with both hands. Last week, hundreds died, choked of oxygen due to an algal bloom that fed and grew in the heat, and collapsed when temperatures dipped.

Blue-green algae flourishes in hot, slow-moving water. Then, when temperatures inevitably drop, the algae dies and becomes a food source for bacteria, who multiply and starve the river of oxygen. The fish rise to the surface.

The mass fish death has reignited a debate over water management in the region, where cotton farmers upstream have been accused of taking more water than they should.

The heat is not the root cause, the locals stress. But the five punishing days settling over the river have not made it better. Last Thursday the cod were up near the surface and struggling. On Friday, it was 45C again. In Menindee, the locals believe the fish kill will happen again, with temperatures in the 40s expected to continue into this week. The water will be running hot……….https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/19/australia-swelters-as-relentless-hot-weather-smashes-records

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January 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

When it comes to heat, Australia is now a climate change leader

January 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australian govt to impose dangerous nuclear dump, despite State law prohibiting this

ANSTO nuclear waste to compromise safety and security in SA, https://www.foe.org.au/ansto_nuclear_waste_to_compromise_safety_and_security_in_sDavid Noonan, 17 Jan 19  The federal government intends shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel waste to be imposed through Whyalla or Port Pirie to go onto indefinite above-ground storage at a nuclear dump site at either Kimba or Hawker ‒ all of which is illegal under state law in South Australia.

Two shipments of reprocessed nuclear waste ‒ arising from the reprocessing of fuel irradiated in research reactors operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) ‒ are intended in the first two years of nuclear store operations in SA. A shipment is due from Sellafield in UK in the early 2020s, and ANSTO plans a shipment of nuclear waste that was reprocessed in France then shipped to ANSTO’s Lucas Heights site (south of Sydney) in 2015.

Some 100 B-Double truckloads of federal government Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) ‒ predominantly ANSTO waste from Lucas Heights ‒ are also to be trucked into SA in the first four years of nuclear store operations in SA.

SA communities face decades of potential accident and terrorist risks and impacts from ongoing ANSTO nuclear waste transports, with all of the next 40 years of ANSTO reactor waste also to be shipped and trucked to SA for indefinite above-ground storage.

The federal nuclear regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), states that nuclear fuel wastes and other ILW require radiation shielding and require isolation from the environment for over 10,000 years. Yet the current plan is to store this waste in SA in a fancy shed for indefinite storage described as “interim” and as “long term above-ground storage (approximately 100 years)”.

After 60 years, ANSTO still has no nuclear waste disposal capacity, while ANSTO’s nuclear waste production is set to increase to more than double waste stockpiles over the next 40 years.

 

The government’s April 2018 ‘Australian Radioactive Waste Management Framework’1 reports total ILW at 1,770 cubic metres (m3), with 95% by volume arising as federal government wastes.

The federal government plans to produce a further 1,960 m3 of ILW over next 40 years, with 95% (1,850 m3) arising from ANSTO’s reactor operations – all to be trucked into SA for indefinite above-ground storage at either Kimba or Hawker.

All of these federal government nuclear waste plans face serious obstacles and community opposition. They are illegal under state law in SA; are in breach of formal advice of the Nuclear Safety Committee to the federal regulator ARPANSA2; and do not represent International Best Practice.

The import, transport, storage and disposal of ANSTO nuclear fuel wastes were prohibited by the SA Liberal government in 2000; then in 2002‒03 the incoming SA Labor government extended the legislation to cover other radioactive wastes. Yet the federal Coalition government intends to override state law to impose nuclear wastes onto South Aistralia.

Advice provided to the CEO of ARPANSA by ARPANSA’s ‘Nuclear Safety Committee’ in Nov. 2013 states that:

“International best practice points to the need to have in place a policy and infrastructure for final management and ultimate disposal of waste before activities generating waste commence.”

“[T]he dual handling and transport process associated with interim storage does not represent international best practice”

“Dual handling also has implications for security.”

More recently, in Nov. 2016, the Nuclear Safety Committee advised the CEO of ARPANSA on the “ongoing requirement to clearly and effectively engage all stakeholders, including those along transport routes” and the Committee said that such engagement is “essential”.3

However, in an arrogant, flawed process, the federal government named port cities in SA as required ports to take shipments of nuclear waste in a report4 posted on the internet but failed to even inform the targeted communities and their local councils.

The story broke on Southern Cross TV on Aug. 6. The next day the ABC quoted Port Pirie’s Mayor saying Council was “blind-sided” by the federal government position to potentially require Port Pirie as a nuclear waste port. On Aug. 9 the story ran on p.1 of the Whyalla News, with the Whyalla Mayor saying Council won’t accept this.

Communities in Whyalla or Port Pirie ‒ and in Port Augusta which was named on a number of potential required nuclear waste transport routes ‒ face “complete shutdown” in transport of nuclear wastes through their cities but have been excluded from having a say by this federal government.

The federal Coalition government must stop this untenable nuclear waste threat to compromise safety and security in SA and accept extended storage of ANSTO nuclear fuel waste and ILW at Lucas Heights.

As the alternate federal government, the ALP is yet to say what they may do if elected in 2019.

More information: www.nuclear.foe.org.au/noonan

References:….

  1. www.radioactivewaste.gov.au/sites/prod.radioactivewaste/files/files/Australian%20Radioactive%20Waste%20Management%20Framework.pdf
  2. www.arpansa.gov.au/sites/default/files/legacy/pubs/nsc/nsc_iwsadvice.pdf
  3. www.arpansa.gov.au/sites/default/files/legacy/pubs/nsc/nrwmf-stakeholder-engagement.rtf
  4. https://prod-radioactivewaste.industry.slicedtech.com.au/sites/prod.radioactivewaste/files/60565376_NRWMF%20Site%20Characterisation%20Technical%20Report_Wallerberdina_20.07.2018_FINAL_Optimized.pdf

Published in Chain Reaction #134, December 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction

January 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | 1 Comment

Australia, (with its climate-sceptic government) getting record heat across the continent

Record-breaking heatwave to hit every state and territory, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/record-breaking-heatwave-to-hit-every-state-and-territory  13 Jan 19, Every state and territory in Australia will experience heatwave conditions on Monday, forecasters say.  A cyclone is brewing off Western Australia’s Kimberley coast while much of the country is set to swelter in heatwave conditions.

Every state and territory will cop the heat on Monday when temperatures soar with some regions to experience severe and extreme hot weather.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts low intensity heatwave conditions in parts of central WA to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.

It will be worst in South Australia where multiple days of temperatures above 40C, an unusual event even for summer, meteorologist Dean Narramore said on Sunday.

Particularly northern South Australia, they’re looking at maybe five days in a row above 45 and normally they might only get five or 10 a year,” he said.

Melbourne can expect to see a few days in the mid to high 30s, while temperatures in Sydney’s west will peak above 40C for four or five days.

January 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

New danger for Julian Assange as Ecuador toes the USA line (and Australia won’t help him, though he’s their citizen)

More troubles for Julian Assange as Ecuador bows to pressure to extradite him following this letter, http://thewikidaily.com/more-troubles-for-julian-asange-as-ecuador-bows-to-pressure-to-extradite-him-following-this-letter/  We have been monitoring Julian asange’s asylum in Ecuadorian embassy in britain to outline the dangers the computer proggrammer and  wikileaks founder face in coming future and it seems alot have been happening lately than the mainstream media’s  are reporting.

Ecuador has begun a “Special Examination” of Julian Assange’s asylum and citizenship as it looks to the IMF for a bailout, the whistleblowing site reports, with conditions including handing over the WikiLeaks founder.

Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa tweeted an image of the letter he received from the State Comptroller General on December 19, which outlines the upcoming examination by the Direction National de Auditoria.

The audit will “determine whether the procedures for granting  asylum and naturalization to Julian Assange were carried out in accordance with national and international law,” and will cover the period between January 1, 2012 and September 20, 2018.

Assange has been in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since he sought asylum there in 2012. He was granted Ecuadorian citizenship last December in a bid to protect him from being extradited to the US where he fears he faces secret charges for publishing US government cables and documents.

WikiLeaks tweeted the news on Wednesday, joining the dots between the audit and Ecuador’s consideration of an International Monetary Fund bailout. The country owes China more than $6.5 billion in debt and falling oil prices have affected its repayment abilities.

According to WikiLeaks, Ecuador is considering a $10 billion bailout which would allegedly come with conditions such as “the US government demanded handing over Assange and dropping environmental claims against Chevron,” for its role in polluting the Amazon rainforest.

Assange’s position has increasingly been under threat under Correa’s successor, President Lenin Moreno, with Ecuadorian authorities restricting his internet access and visitors.“I believe they are going to turn over Assange to the US government,

January 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, SOUTH AMERICA, UK | 1 Comment

Australia must face up to the problem of hazardous wastes from old discarded solar panels

I have long been worried that environmentalists are seen to be enthusiastic about renewable energy, seeing it as the panacea for the world’s climate woes.  Solar power is a great technology for replacing polluting fossil fuel power, but it’s only a part of what needs to be done – in the urgently needed transition from our wasteful CONSUMER SOCIETY to a CONSERVER SOCIETY.  It must not become a contributor to the waste disaster. 

Waste crisis looms as thousands of solar panels reach end of life,  https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/waste-crisis-looms-as-thousands-of-solar-panels-reach-end-of-life-20190112-p50qzd.html By Nicole Hasham, 13 Jan 19,Thousands of ageing rooftop solar panels represent a toxic time-bomb and major economic waste unless Australia acts swiftly to keep them out of landfill, conservationists and recyclers say.

Australia’s enthusiastic embrace of rooftop solar has brought clear environmental and economic benefits, but critics say governments have dragged their feet in addressing the looming waste crisis.

As of December more than 2 million Australian households had rooftop solar installed. The uptake continues to grow due to the technology’s falling cost and rising electricity bills.

Photovoltaic panels last about 30 years, and those installed at the turn of the millennium are nearing the end of their lives. Many have already been retired due to faults or damage during transport and installation.

The nation’s environment ministers in April last year agreed to fast-track the development of new product stewardship schemes for photovoltaic solar panels and associated batteries. Such schemes make producers and retailers take responsibility for an item across its life cycle.

However, Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel, a former federal government adviser on product stewardship, said action was long overdue and the delay reveals a “fundamental weakness” in Australia’s waste policies.

“We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy,” he said.

Mr Angel said photovoltaic panels contain hazardous substances and “when we are sending hundreds of thousands of e-waste items to landfill we are also creating a pollution problem”.

“It’s a systemic problem that [applies to] a whole range of products”, he said, saying schemes were badly needed for paint, batteries, floor coverings, commercial furniture and many types of electronic waste.

Photovoltaic panels are predominantly made from glass, polymer and aluminium, but may also contain potentially hazardous materials such as lead, copper and zinc.

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel attributed delays in product stewardship schemes to both “bureaucratic malaise” and unfounded concern about cost.

The national television and computer recycling scheme, which since 2011 has required manufacturers and importers to participate in industry-funded collection and recycling, showed that regulatory measures can work, he said.

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

Victoria will ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, including all parts of a photovoltaic system, mirroring schemes imposed in Europe.

Sustainability Victoria is also leading a project examining end-of-life management options for photovoltaic systems, which may progress to a national program. The issue is particularly pertinent in Victoria where a new $1.3 billion program is expected to install solar power on 700,000 homes.

Sustainability Victoria resource recovery director Matt Genever said there was strong support from industry, government and consumers for a national approach to photovoltaic product stewardship. Final options are due to be presented to environment ministers in mid-2019.

He rejected suggestions that plans were progressing too slowly.

“The analysis we’ve done in Victoria … shows that it’s in 2025 that we see a real ramp up in the waste being generated out of photovoltaic panels. I certainly don’t think we’ve missed the boat,” he said.

A report by the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency in 2016 found that recoverable materials from photovoltaic panel waste had a potential value of nearly $US15 billion by 2050.

Reclaim PV director Clive Fleming, whose business is believed to be the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia, said it recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel. The company has been lobbying for state bans on solar panels entering landfill.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority said it has commissioned research to better understand how e-waste, including solar panels, was managed. The panels can be dumped in NSW landfill, however given their life span they were “not a common item in the waste stream”, it said.

The Queensland government is developing an end-of-life scheme for batteries used in solar systems and other appliances.

A federal review of the Product Stewardship Act was expected to be completed last year, but the Department of the Environment and Energy is yet to present a report to the government.

Mr Genever hoped the review would result in a broader range of products being subject to stewardship programs and take steps to ensure voluntary schemes were effective.

Both the Smart Energy Council and the Clean Energy Council, which represent solar industry operators, said a well-designed product stewardship scheme was important and should be developed through cooperation between industry, governments and recyclers.

January 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, renewable, wastes | Leave a comment

A nuclear cover-up? Britain removes from public access, files on atomic bomb tests in Australia

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

“worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

Review or ‘cover up’? Mystery as Australia nuclear weapons tests files withdrawn https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/11/australia/uk-australia-nuclear-archives-intl/index.html, By James Griffiths, CNN

More than 65 years since the UK began conducting secret nuclear weapons testing in the Australian Outback, scores of files about the program have been withdrawn from the country’s National Archives without explanation.

The unannounced move came as a shock to many researchers and historians who rely on the files and have been campaigning to unseal the small number which remain classified.

“Many relevant UK documents have remained secret since the time of the tests, well past the conventional 30 years that government documents are normally withheld,” said expert Elizabeth Tynan, author of “Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story”.

“To now withdraw previously available documents is extremely unfortunate and hints at an attempted cover-up.”

Withdrawal of the files was first noted in late December. Access to them has remained closed in the new year.

Dark legacy   The UK conducted 12 nuclear weapons tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the sparsely populated Outback of South Australia.

Information about the tests remained a tightly held secret for decades. It wasn’t until a Royal Commission was formed in 1984 — in the wake of several damning press reports — that the damage done to indigenous people and the Australian servicemen and women who worked on the testing grounds became widely known.

Indigenous people living nearby had long complained of the effects they suffered, including after a “black mist” settled over one camp near Maralinga in the wake of the Totem I test in October 1953. The mist caused stinging eyes and skin rashes. Others vomited and suffered from diarrhea.

These claims were dismissed and ridiculed by officials for decades — until, in the wake of the Royal Commission report, the UK agreed to pay the Australian government and the traditional owners of the Maralinga lands about AU$46 million ($30 million). The Australian authorities also paid indigenous Maralinga communities a settlement of AU$13.5 million ($9 million).

While the damage done to indigenous communities was acknowledged, much about the Totem I test — and other tests at Maralinga and later at Emu Field — remained secret, even before the recent withdrawal of archive documents.

“The British atomic tests in Australia did considerable harm to indigenous populations, to military and other personnel and to large parts of the country’s territory. This country has every right to know exactly what the tests entailed,” Tynan said. “Mysteries remain about the British nuclear tests in Australia, and these mysteries have become harder to bring to light with the closure of files by the British government.”

Alan Owen, chairman of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, which campaigns on behalf of former servicemen, said “the removal of these documents affects not only our campaign, but affects the many academic organizations that rely on this material.”

“We are very concerned that the documents will not be republished and the (Ministry of Defense) will again deny any responsibility for the effects the tests have had on our membership,” Owen told CNN.

Unclear motives Responding to a request for comment from CNN, a spokeswoman for the National Archives said the withdrawal of the Australian nuclear test files was done at the request of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which has ultimate responsibility over them.

The NDA said that “a collection of records has been temporarily withdrawn from general access via The National Archive at Kew as part of a review process.”

“It is unclear, at this time, how long the review will take, however NDA anticipates that many of the documents will be restored to the public archive in due course,” a spokeswoman said.

Jon Agar, a professor of science and technology at University College London, said the withdrawal “is not just several records but two whole classes of files, many of which had previously been open to researchers at the National Archives.”

“These files are essential to any historian of the UK nuclear projects — which of course included tests in Australia. They have been closed without proper communication or consultation,” he added.

Agar shared correspondence he had with the NDA in which a spokeswoman said some files would be moved to a new archive — Nucleus — in the far north of Scotland. Howevethe Nucleus archives focus on the British civil nuclear industry, and it is unclear why files on military testing would be moved there, or why those files would need to be withdrawn to do so.

Nucleus also does not offer the type of online access to its records as the National Archives does.

“Why not just copy the files if the nuclear industry needs them at Nucleus for administrative reasons? Why take them all out of public view?” Agar wrote on Twitter.

Information freedom In correspondence with both CNN and Agar, the NDA suggested those interested in the files could file freedom of information (FOI) requests for them.

Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, British citizens and concerned parties are granted the “right to access recorded information held by public sector organizations.”

FOI requests can be turned down if the government deems the information too sensitive or the request too expensive to process. Under a separate rule, the UK government should also declassify documents between 20 and 30 years after they were created.

According to the BBC, multiple UK government departments — including the Home Office and Cabinet Office — have been repeatedly condemned by auditors for their “poor,” “disappointing” and “unacceptable” treatment of FOI applications.

Commenting on the nuclear documents, Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, a UK-based NGO, said it was “worrying that properly released records can suddenly be removed from public access without notice or explanation.”

“It suggests that the historical record is fragile and transient and liable to be snatched away at any time, with or without good reason,” he added.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party in a progressive move, plans to sign and ratify UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

Labor’s pledge to commit to nuclear disarmament puts the alternative party of government on the right side of history.

The gulf between the shenanigans of way too many politicians, and the growing urgency of grave and looming threats has rarely seemed wider. Action on crucial issues languishes while parliamentarians make naked grabs for power, acting in the interests only of themselves. Poor personal behaviour seems endemic. On the two unprecedented dangers looming over all humanity – nuclear war and climate disruption – Australia has been not just missing in action, but actively on the wrong side of history, part of the problem rather than the solution.

The government’s own figures demonstrate that our country, awash with renewable sun and wind, is way off track to meet even a third of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030 – itself nowhere near enough.

Not only is nuclear disarmament stalled, but one by one, the agreements that reduced and constrained nuclear weapons, hard-won fruit of the end of the first cold war, are being trashed. All the nuclear-armed states are investing massively not simply in keeping their weapons indefinitely, but developing new ones that are more accurate, more deadly and more “usable”. The cold war is back, and irresponsible and explicit threats to use nuclear weapons have proliferated. Any positive effect that Australia might have on reducing nuclear weapons dangers from the supposed influence afforded us by our uncritical obsequiousness to the US is nowhere in sight. Our government has been incapable of asserting any independence even from the current most extreme, dysfunctional and unfit US administration. The US has recently renounced its previous commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT); we have said nothing.

The one bright light in this gathering gloom is the 2017 UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. For its role in helping to bring this historic treaty into being, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) was awarded the Nobel peace prize for 2017 – the first to an entity born in Australia. This treaty provides the first comprehensive and categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons. It sets zero nuclear weapons as the clear and consistent standard for all countries and will help drive elimination of these worst weapons of mass destruction, just as the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have played a decisive role in progressing the elimination of those other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. The treaty lays out a clear pathway for all states, with and without nuclear weapons, to fulfil their binding legal obligation to accomplish nuclear disarmament. It is currently the only such pathway.

Regrettably, the Australian government was the most active “weasel” in opposing the treaty’s development at every step and was one of the first to say it would not sign, even though we have signed every other treaty banning an unacceptable weapon.

Hence the Labor party’s commitment at its recent national conference in Adelaide that “Labor in government will sign and ratify the Ban Treaty” is an important and welcome step. It is a clear commitment, allowing no room for weaselling.

The considerations articulated alongside this commitment are fairly straightforward and consistent with the commitment. First, recognition of the need for “an effective verification and enforcement architecture” for nuclear disarmament. The treaty itself embodies this. Governments joining the treaty must designate a competent international authority “to negotiate and verify the irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons” and nuclear weapons programmes, “including the elimination or irreversible conversion of all nuclear-weapons-related facilities”. Australia should also push for the same standard for any nuclear disarmament that happens outside the treaty.

Second, the Labor resolution prioritises “the interaction of the Ban Treaty with the longstanding Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”. The treaty has been carefully crafted to be entirely compatible with the NPT and explicitly reaffirms that the NPT “serves as a cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime”, and that its full and effective implementation “has a vital role to play in promoting international peace and security”. All the governments supporting the treaty support the NPT, and the NPT itself enshrines a commitment for all its members to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, and the International Committee of the Red Cross are among those who have affirmed that the treaty and the NPT are entirely consistent, complementary and mutually reinforcing. Even opponents of the treaty recognise that prohibition is an essential part of achieving and sustaining a world free of nuclear weapons.

Third, the Labor resolution refers to “Work to achieve universal support for the Ban Treaty.” This too is mirrored in one of the commitments governments take on in joining the treaty, to encourage other states to join, “with the goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty.”

An Australian government joining the treaty would enjoy wide popular support in doing so – an Ipsos poll last month found that 79% of Australians (and 83% of Labor voters) support, and less than 8% oppose, Australia joining the treaty.

Australia would also stop sticking out like a sore thumb among our southeast Asian and Pacific Island neighbours and be able to work more effectively with them. Brunei, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Laos, New Zealand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam have already signed the treaty.

Most importantly, joining the treaty and renouncing nuclear weapons would mean that Australia would become part of the solution rather than the problem of the acute existential peril that hangs over all of us while nuclear weapons exist, ready to be launched within minutes. Time is not on our side. Of course this crucial humanitarian issue should be above party politics. The commitment from the alternative party of government to join the treaty and get on the right side of history when Labor next forms government is to be warmly welcomed. It is to be hoped that the 78% of federal parliamentary Labor members who have put on record their support for Australia joining the treaty by signing Ican’s parliamentary pledge will help ensure Labor keeps this landmark promise.

 Dr Tilman Ruff is co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) and Nobel peace prize winner (2017)

December 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s Ministry of Defence setting up a smokescreen about the British nuclear bombing disgrace in Australia

Hiding Britain’s H-bomb secrets https://www.theguardian.com/global/2018/dec/27/hiding-britains-h-bomb-secrets   Sue Rabbitt Roff is alarmed at files being withdrawn by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority That the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has withdrawn files relating to the development of the British H-bomb in Australia 70 years ago (Nuclear weapons and energy files removed from archives, 24 December) is indeed alarming to those of us trying to get behind the smokescreens already set up by the Ministry of Defence’s closing access to files over the past decades.

My own research has been into why Sir Mark Oliphant, Australia’s premier nuclear physicist and a prime mover in the Tube Alloys group that showed the Americans how to build atomic bombs in time to use in the second world war, never spoke out about the contamination (from H-bomb tests) of his beloved home state of South Australia and further eastward just weeks before the 1956 Olympic Games took place in Melbourne.

He told me in 1993: “The Brits thought they could ensure any fallout or contamination was not too big. They were very pigheaded about it. The people in control were very haphazard about the estimates.” Why didn’t he speak out about the residual radioactive contamination at Monte Bello, Maralinga and Emu Field, even when he was governor of South Australia? He replied: “You can really decontaminate Maralinga by leaving it alone. Plutonium alpha particles contamination, I think, is grossly overplayed. The Aborigines are using it to the full. At the same time it was very naughty of the British to leave it, and to think of spreading it that way in the first place was very nasty. The British people were very reticent about revealing contamination, especially regarding food contamination. They hugged that to their chests very closely.”

I suggest that Sir Mark Oliphant was Australia’s – and Britain’s – J Robert Oppenheimer. The evidence is set out on my website www.rabbittreview.com and was mostly found in the files I accessed in the UK National Archives.

December 29, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Australia’s Environment Ambassador, Patrick Suckling, promotes fossil fuels at UN Climate Summit

December 13, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s dirty tricks in Poland: getting away with no reduction in greenhouse emissions

Fake action’: Australia’s secret path to hitting Paris climate goals, Brisbane Times, By Peter Hannam,– 10 December 2018 Australia could use a little-known loophole to help meet up to half its Paris climate commitments in a move that analysts warn could undermine the global accord.

Neither Environment Minister Melissa Price nor Labor will rule out counting Australia’s expected credits from beating its 2020 goal under the soon-to-be-superseded Kyoto Protocol against its 2030 Paris pledge.

The analysts say such a move by Australia would encourage other nations to follow suit.

One ex-member of Australia’s negotiating team said the government had considered using the credits for some time even though it went against the spirit of the Paris accord signed in 2015. While not formally on the agenda at the current climate talks in Poland, the issue of Kyoto credits is expected to be discussed in coming days.

Ms Price, who is attending the summit in the city of Katowice, has put the expected surplus by 2020 – when the Paris agreement kicks in –

at 294 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent.

However, consultancy Climate Analytics calculated the final figure will be at least 333 million tonnes. If accounting around land use changes – including tree planting and land clearing – is settled in Australia’s favour, the surplus could swell to 400 million tonnes.

Australia’s current pledge under the Paris agreement is to cut emissions 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by the year 2030.

Unless other nations object to the use of carryover credits, it could then meet the target with just a 15 per cent cut – a much easier task.

“This appears to be the ‘canter’ the government keeps talking about,”

said Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics. “It is fake action and would be rorting the planet, and will undermine real action in Australia.”

Carryover estimates are based on data provided by Australia to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2017.

Ms Price declined to directly answer questions about how it will use any Kyoto carryover.

‘Fatal undermining’

Richie Merzian, who was part of Australia’s climate negotiations

team for nine years before joining think tank The Australia Institute in April, said the government had long considered deploying a Kyoto surplus towards its Paris target.

“It was certainly part of their train of thinking,” Mr Merzian said. “It could be they were banking on this.”

“You’re basically getting away without reducing your emissions,” he said…….

Labor caution

Mark Butler, Labor’s climate spokesman, declined to rule out using Kyoto credits if the ALP wins office next year………

Adam Bandt, the Greens’ climate spokesman, said the public expected “a government of climate deniers to use dodgy accounting to shirk their climate responsibilities, but not Labor”.

“Labor needs to follow the lead of many other developed countries and immediately rule out using carryover credits to meet our measly Paris obligations if it wins office,” he said.

Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change, said any weakening of emissions targets would sap investments needed to tranform the economy to net-zero emissions by mid-century.

“To secure the long-term prosperity of Australia, targets need to be in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement – limiting warming to 1.5 degrees and well below 2 degrees,” Ms Herd said.

“The longer we delay credible taking action, the harder the economic adjustment will be and Australia will continue to lose the opportunity to unlock the benefits of investment in clean energy and other low carbon

December 11, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, politics international | Leave a comment

Rallies will demand that Australia insists on Julian Assange’s safe departure from UK

Rallies will demand that the Australian government exercise its undeniable diplomatic and legal powers to insist that the British government immediately and unconditionally allow Assange to leave the United Kingdom and return to Australia if he so chooses. The courageous journalist must be provided with a guarantee, by both the Coalition and Labor, that Canberra will categorically reject any US application for Assange’s extradition

SEP meeting and livestream on December 16: What next in the fight to free Julian Assange?  WSW By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) , 28 November 2018As this year draws to a close, WikiLeaks publisher and Australian citizen Julian Assange remains effectively imprisoned inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, denied sunlight and medical care, and blocked from communicating with the outside world. A court document, which surfaced in November, confirms that the US government has filed and sealed criminal charges against Assange, on the basis that his media organisation, WikiLeaks, published leaked information revealing US war crimes and anti-democratic imperialist intrigues.

The information vindicates the fight waged by Assange and his defenders against an arrest warrant, issued against him in 2010, obligating him to answer “questions” over false allegations that he had committed sexual assault in Sweden. The allegations were fabricated in order to provide ammunition for various pro-US layers to discredit Assange and to create the conditions for him to be rendered to a country that could rapidly extradite him to the US. The American ruling elite is determined to make an example of Assange by putting him on trial for “espionage” or “conspiracy,” in order to intimidate every journalist and whistleblower. Continue reading

December 8, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Australia: Bushfires, Climate Change, and Nuclear Sites

Bushfires in Queensland have ushered in the “new normal”  of superfires in Australia. California has already experienced this new normal. It means that these fires are now catastrophic. They encroach on human habitation. Fire behaviour has changed.  Their intensity is greater. Their severity is greater: their flames are higher. Fires last longer, and come with increasing frequency. They spread at higher rates, and jump gaps such as roads, rivers and fire breaks. .

These fires now do long -term damage to the ecosystem. The earth underneath is affected, habitat destroyed, killing all the normal bacteria and inhabitants of the soil. Many are fires that are impossible to put out.

The background to these new superfires is climate change. Climate change has brought higher temperatures and  drought – resulting in drier trees and other vegetation – meaning that tinder-dry fuel is ready for ignition.

Australia is uniquely vulnerable, as the driest continent, with its prevailing eucalypt forests.

In California, the authorities are trying hard to cover up the reality that the wildfires started at an abandoned and still radioactively contaminated, nuclear facility . The fire would undoubtedly have caused radioactive ash to be blown about. (The fact that it’s not measured doesn’t mean that it is non existent) 

Australia is vulnerable to a similar radioactive threat. Last year, bushfires went uncomfortably close to the  Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. Plans to transport Lucas Height nuclear waste 1700 km across Australia to Flinders Ranges area mean that this radioactive trash would be at risk of accident, and one of the worst risks would be bushfires.

Australia must face up to the climate change threats – floods (as more water vapour, due to heat, will come down as flooding) , sea level rise, and super bushfires. Lucas Heights nuclear reactor should be closed, and ANSTO’s nuclear dream prevented from becoming Australia’s climate-nuclear nightmare.

The Age of Super Fires

December 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – its plight pretty much ignored by government

Portrait of a planet on the verge of climate catastrophe  As the UN sits down for its annual climate conference this week, many experts believe we have passed the point of no return, Guardian, by Robin McKie, 2 Dec 18 “…………Great Barrier Reef  Coral reefs cover a mere 0.1% of the world’s ocean floor but they support about 25% of all marine species. They also provide nature with some of its most beautiful vistas. For good measure, coral reefs protect shorelines from storms, support the livelihoods of 500 million people and help generate almost £25bn of income. Permitting their destruction would put the planet in trouble – which is precisely what humanity is doing.

Rising sea temperatures are already causing irreparable bleaching of reefs, while rising sea levels threaten to engulf reefs at a faster rate than they can grow upwards. Few scientists believe coral reefs – which are made of simple invertebrates related to sea anemones – can survive for more than a few decades.

Yet those who have sounded clear warnings about our reefs have received little reward. Professor Terry Hughes, a coral expert at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, recently studied the impact of El Niño warmings in 2016 and 2017 on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef and its largest living entity – and wept when he saw the damage.

“The 2016 event killed 30% of corals, the one a year later killed another 20%. Very close to half the corals have died in the past three years,” he said recently.

For his pains, Hughes has faced demands from tourist firms for his funding to be halted because he was ruining their business. “The Australian government is still promoting new developments of coal mines and fracking for gas,” Hughes said, after being named joint recipient of the John Maddox prize, given to those who champion science in the face of hostility and legal threats. “If we want to save the Great Barrier Reef, these outdated ambitions need to be abandoned. Yet Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising, not falling. It’s a national disgrace.”

This grim picture is summed up by the ethnographer Irus Braverman in her book Coral Whisperers: “The Barrier Reef has changed for ever. The largest living structure in the world has become the largest dying structure in the world.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/02/world-verge-climate-catastophe

December 3, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | 1 Comment

Australian schoolchildren on strike for action on climate change

Kids across Australia walk out of school to protest climate inaction

Climate change is the biggest threat to our futures, not striking from school https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/29/climate-change-is-the-biggest-threat-to-our-futures-not-striking-from-school Milou Albrecht, Harriet O’Shea Carre and Jean Hinchcliffe, 29 Nov 2018

We are walking out for a day to send the Australian government a message: you can no longer pretend we are not here. his month, hundreds of children are going on strike from school to demand urgent action on climate change. From rural Victoria to Townsville, we are walking out of school for a day or more to tell our politicians to listen to us and protect our futures.

We are Milou, Jean and Harriet and we are 14 years old.

Two of us – Milou and Harriet – live in rural Victoria. Throughout our lives, we’ve witnessed the impacts that drought, bushfires and extreme weather have on a community. We have been forced to evacuate when a bushfire came through our town. It was scary. But it is something that will happen more and more as climate change gets worse.

We feel frustrated and let down when we think about the climate crisis and our future. There is so much our politicians could be doing that they aren’t. It seems they are in denial. Our government is supposed to protect us, not destroy our chances of a safe future. Continue reading

December 1, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment