Monday, April 30, 2007

Rudd positioned to win the environmental vote

The Australian Prime Minister's worst dreams were realised when his months of hoping that Labor's national conference would be a showcase of all the worst aspects of the ALP came to naught on the weekend.

He had been hoping they would implode and had been pressing Labor's super-sensitive spot on uranium, the exposed raw nerve of an unfinished, three-decade-long factional argument.
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IT'S been a bit of a sad weekend for John Howard.

For months he has been pressing Labor's super-sensitive spot on uranium, the exposed raw
nerve of an unfinished, three-decade-long factional argument.
The ALP resolved the uranium question calmly and rationally.

There was an emphasis on practical approaches to policy. The debate was real but the outcome was cooked. Rudd's uranium proposal was carried, narrowly but decisively.
Rudd's low-interest environmental loans, similarly, are good policy. They help households make progress towards water conservation. They help families take direct action to curtail
carbon emissions. And they do it at minimal cost to the taxpayer.
Next week Peter Costello will produce the national budget, and in the next month or so Howard will produce the Government's new policy on global warming. They will need to be good.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Aussies voters wooed with green and gold

I predicted early on that global warming is going to be a major factor in the Australian federal elections planned for the end of this year. Last week Prime Minister John Howard belatedly recognised this in attempting to divert the focus away from AGW and onto economic management, when he claimed that, "climate change is not the overriding moral challenge for Australians". Then he contradicted himself by clearing the way for a nuclear powered future, using global warming mitigation as his Trojan horse.

This weekend Labor pressed on with its perceived electoral advantage, announcing a policy to subsidise home generated solar energy for households earning under $250,00 per year by way of interest free loans. One big benefit of this approach, to my mind, is that it would stimulate a local solar and renewable energy industry.
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Labor loans for green homes

Phillip Hudson
April 29, 2007 - 12:22PM

About 200,000 households will be able to get cheap loans of up to $10,000 from a Labor Government to install solar panels, water tanks and other ''green'' climate friendly devices, Labor leader Kevin Rudd promised today.

Announcing the $300 million policy at the ALP national conference in Sydney, Mr Rudd said it was a practical ''bread and butter'' plan to help families earning less than $250,000 a year to make their homes more energy and water efficient.

He claimed the policy could generate up to $2 billion worth of green inspired investment and work for small business, especially tradespeople.

He said it would cut up to $800 a year from household energy and water bills and ''increase the value of their homes''.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

NSW Government won't take criticism

I have to say I am pretty suss of any government that wins a election based on the uselessness of the opposition. Even when I think the opposition is utterly impotent, I don't necessarily want my thesis proven beyond any shadow of a doubt because it tends to give the winner carte blanch to act like a bunch of brigands.

As seems to be proven by the response of the incumbent, whom I voted for, to the lobbying of the NSW government by the NSW National Parks Association (NPA), whose email address was blacklisted by the office of the NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, for some unexplained reason, after emails highlighted the weakened state of the state's environmental ministry.

A form on the NPA website had allowed people to easily write to Mr Iemma, 20 of his Cabinet Ministers, five Independents and four Green parliamentary members, supporting the NPA's position on administrative changes to the environment ministry. The sopheads decided it was spam.

Well that is just not on. :::[SMH]

"I urge you to resist making changes to the recently strengthened environment ministry," a line of the generic letter template read.

But after receiving 1700 messages sent using the form in two days, the Government wrote an email to Mr Cox accusing him of breaking the law. "The pattern and content of these email constitutes SPAM under the Commonwealth SPAM act of 2003. Please investigate and take action to prevent further spam from these addresses."

Mr Hughes told Mr Cox that if the emails did not cease, "we will be required to report this behaviour to the relevant authorities".

All emails sent by the NPA to the Premier's office and his ministers are now being blocked.

However, it appears Mr Hughes has misinterpreted the Spam Act, which only applies to "commercial electronic messages". The NPA is a non-profit organisation.

Further, Section 44 of the legislation reads: "This Act does not apply to the extent (if any) that it would infringe any constitutional doctrine of implied freedom of political communication."

Just because you guys had no competition come election time, doesn't mean we have to take this lying down.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Arctic hippopotamus to survive the polar bear

We only have one hundred years till mankind can start experiencing life in our own Jurassic Park according to Appy Sluijs, an expert in ancient ecology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and fossil footprints of a pantodont found on an Arctic island.

Most adult polar bear males weigh 300-600 kg (660-1320 lbs) and measure 2.4-3.0 m (7.9-10.0 ft) in length, about the size of a pantadont. That both animals have made Svalbard archipelago their home over time is a stunning demonstration of how ecology adapts to climate change over 55 million years.

The questions each one of us has to answer is - do our descendents start having to adapt in 2107, within 100 short years? Or are you the type that intuitively believes that mankind should live out our benign interglacial bonus in accordance with natures prescription?
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COAL MINE SEVEN, Svalbard, Norway (Reuters) - Fossils of a hippopotamus-like creature on an Arctic island show the climate was once like that of Florida
Fossil footprints of a pantodont, a plant-eating creature weighing about 400 kg (880 lb), add to evidence of sequoia-type trees and crocodile-like beasts in the Arctic millions of years ago when greenhouse gas concentrations in the air were high.
about 55 million years ago
"Where we are now was once a temperate rainforest,"
orests grew in the Arctic when carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, was at about 1,000 parts per million in the atmosphere because of natural swings in the climate.
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Sea levels 55 million years ago were about 100 meters higher than now -- Antarctica was free of ice.
Carbon dioxide levels are now at almost 390 per million in the atmosphere, up from 270 before the Industrial Revolution and rising fast. Sluijs said they could reach 1,000 parts per million by 2100 if not held in check.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Twenty four Amur leopards left

Talking about biodiversity...

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Hunters kill one of last surviving Amur leopards

The story so far...

• Hunters have killed one of the last seven surviving female Amur leopards
• There are 25 to 34 Amur leopards still living in the wild, WWF reported last week
• WWF: Hunter shot the leopard through the tail bone and then beat it in the head
• Environmentalist calls the killing cowardly and stupid

MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Hunters in Russia's Far East have shot and killed one of the last seven surviving female Amur leopards living in the wild, WWF said on Monday, driving the species even closer to extinction.

Last week environmentalists said there were only between 25 and 34 Amur leopards -- described as one of the most graceful cats in the world -- still living in the wild. (Full story)

At least 100 are needed to guarantee the species' survival which depends upon female leopards breeding. There are more male leopards in the wild than female because cats tend to breed males when under stress, WWF said.

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Marginals want investment in biodiversity infrastructure

Eight in ten Australian voters in marginal seats believe the way to fortify against climate change is to strengthen the biodiversity of their natural habitats, according to Galaxy Research. It shows an encouraging sophistication in their understanding of climate change and the future it will bring. I'm guessing they believe a strong and healthy biodiversity is vital to our environmental health because it acts as a giant carbon sink.

This election season's colour is looking decidedly green.

The Australian Newspaper:
"Experts estimate that about $4 a year for five years is needed for every taxpayer to achieve the biodiversity protection targets agreed to by governments in 2005," WWF spokesman Dr MartinTaylor said.

These targets were agreed to by agreed to in 2005 by the Australian, state and territory governments.

"The Galaxy poll revealed that most Australians were willing to invest a lot more in safeguarding Australia's unique biodiversity against the effects of climate change by creating new national parks and nature reserves, with the average amount being $16.20 per taxpayer per year."

On the subject of climate change policy, the Liberal government is out of step with the marginal voters . The Federal Government invests only about 60 cents per tax payer per year on acquiring land for national parks or nature reserves.

The last word goes to WWF's, Dr MartinTaylor because they commissioned this nugget of a research finding.

"The poll shows that the average taxpayer is more than willing to chip in the money required, which is the equivalent of a box of corn flakes a year, to ensure our wildlife and wild places have a fair chance at surviving climate change."

Voters 'want investment in natural habitats'

AN opinion poll of 10 mostly marginal federal seats has found voters want more money invested to protect natural habitats against the upheavals of climate change.

The Galaxy opinion poll, commissioned by environment group WWF-Australia, found more than nine in 10 people polled in Australia's marginal seats thought climate change was a significant threat to Australia's native wildlife and natural areas.

And 78 per cent, or nearly eight in 10, wanted the Government to do more to counter the threat.

The polling covered 500 respondents in the seats of Lindsay, Wentworth (NSW), Bonner, Griffith, Moreton (Qld), Kingston (SA), Deakin, La Trobe (Vic), Hasluck and Stirling (WA).

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Howard denies moral dimension to global warming

Honestly, if John Howard had been reading Global Warming Watch, like he should, he would have known months ago that global warming will feature heavily at the next Australian election. And he wouldn't have made this faux pas. :::[SMH]

Prime Minister John Howard has rejected Labor leader Kevin Rudd's claim that climate change is the overwhelming moral challenge facing Australians.

Which has me wondering - what is Howard's idea of the overwhelming moral challenge facing Australians subsequent to our lovely experiment with ditching habeas corpus for David Hicks, and tearing up our United Nations obligations to refugees? Methinks gay Muslim Aboriginals who throw their stem-celled children overboard for native title could soon be co-opted for Howard's next bogeyman. Eat your babies now or face the ensuing Prime Ministerial pillorying!

Mr Howard said Australia was a minor emitter of greenhouse gases and could not influence the global climate by acting alone.

Mr Howard ignores the leverage that we could bring to bear on the world's biggest emitter, the United States, by totally isolating them if we signed the Kyoto Protocol. As our two countries are the only two hold-outs left, it is disingenuous in the extreme for Howard to suggest we would be acting alone, or indeed that we have no influence on the global climate.

A minor emitter? Australia is actually the world's biggest emitter per capita: We produce 27.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person per year. This is enough to fill 27 family homes. The figure is 27 per cent higher than the amount produced by American citizens and more than double the average figure for people living in most other industrialised countries.

Lastly, we are the world's biggest exporter of coal - none of it clean. It may be convenient for Howard to say the coal gets burnt elsewhere, however these externalised costs do come back to us in climate change. That's why they call it global warming.

The prime minister said he rejected the Labor Party's zealotry about the issue.

If only. The issue of global warming has been in the political pipeline for 20 years, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988. Imagine if we had listened then?

If only the Liberal Party presented a decent opposition to the Labor and the Greens on climate change. Then the electorate would have a real choice.

Mr Howard said such an approach also obscured the need for balanced government decision-making and fed ideological demands with kneejerk policy reactions.

Mate - until last year, global warming was not even on your radar. Anything you cobble together now is, by definition, 'knee-jerk' - like throwing around $200 million trying to get 'illegal' Indonesian loggers and their militias to stop logging while ignoring the activities of our own virgin rainforest loggers because they are you mates come election time. And you can't deflect the charge of ideologue yourself when you have studiously ignored the science behind global warming, and allowed our fossil-fuel industry to set our climate change policy.

Then there is this duplicity...

"As the Productivity Council has warned, there are potentially very serious costs to Australia from acting alone,'' Mr Howard said.

...contradicting this one:

"I will not sub-contract our climate change policy to the European Union.''

Which one is it? Are we worried about the "very serious costs" from "acting alone", or are we refusing to act with the European Union?

Anyway, we are getting distracted. If you accept the science, Mr Howard, then it is clearly a moral imperative to do everything possible to pass on to your children and grandchildren a similar or better environmental heritage than the one you inherited. It's immoral to do otherwise.

If only because no economy can exist outside it's natural environment.


Chuckled over this comment from a Road to Surfdom reader:

Comment by pugsley

# April 23, 2007, 18:41:54 |Quote|

He also said today ‘I will not sub-contract our climate change policy to the European Union’. Why not, John? You’ve sub-contracted our foreign policy to the United States.


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Global Warming: Historical data confirms it

Global warming... not all bad...
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This Earth Day in America

A Washington Post, ABC News and Stanford University poll reveals:

- a third of Americans now say that global warming is the world's single largest environmental problem, double the number of a year ago.

- seven in 10 Americans want more federal action on global warming, and half said that believe the government should do much more than it is now.

- fifty two percent said the issue is "extremely" or "very" important personally, double the percentage recorded a decade ago.

How is this playing out in the lead-up to the presidential elections?

Change can be measured in the way the presidential candidates are practically falling all over themselves to come up with new proposals. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) announced a new initiative on Friday to establish a national low-carbon fuel standard based on a California proposal. By 2020, Obama would require that all transportation fuels sold in the U.S. contain 10 percent less carbon.

In a new idea, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign announced it would go "carbon neutral" beginning today, meaning it would offset electricity generated with fossil fuel with purchases of "clean energy" electricity (such as wind).

Republican Sen. John McCain has long been one of the leaders in Congress in pushing for a ceiling on carbon-dioxide emissions and a trading system where clean-energy credits can be bought and sold. Other GOP candidates are jumping on that bandwagon, as Obama and Clinton already have, along with other Democrats.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Book-burning in Washington DC, 2007 AD

The anti-science nature of the Bush Administration is well known. Their latest assault involves manoeuvring that withdraws chemical research libraries from scientist and researchers. And lawyers. A briefing paper for the agency enforcement director concludes that the loss of library access will substantially impede investigations and prosecutions of polluters.

EPA Casts Environmental Information to the Wind

Commentary By Lee Russ

Watching the Watchers

Does it make sense to dismantle a system of 26 technical libraries essential to research on the environment in order to save $1.5 million from a more-than-$8 billion budget?

A lot of people don't think so, according to a piece by Jeff Ruch in Summit Daily. Ruch writes:
A petition, signed by the presidents of 16 local unions representing at least 10,000 EPA scientists, engineers, environmental protection specialists and support staff, charged that the intent behind the library closures was simply "to suppress information on environmental and public-health related topics." But the effort to hamstring the EPA goes beyond libraries and includes diverting money away from research, offering early retirement to senior scientists and ultimately closing down research laboratories.
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Howard prays drought not linked to global warming

Looks like I am not the only one to think that the Australian Prime Minister's threat to cut off water to our farmers unless heavy rains fall soon, is strange, or strangely timed, or political. :::[SMH: Letters to the Editor]

Rain is not the only thing in this Government's prayers

Gotta love it. After 10-plus years of squandering the nation's natural resources, refusing to invest in alternative energy and squandering finances by taking us into an illegal war in a faraway place that is no threat to Australia's security on nothing but lies and by deception, and with the wells running dry, John Howard and his incompetents tell us all to pray for rain.

Forget God save the Queen. How about God save Australia - from this Government?

S. Cavli Como West

The Howard Government's involvement in the fate of the Murray-Darling river systems over the past 10 years matches its involvement and policy on climate change. It stands back and allows every last cent to be dragged out of the environment until the damage is done, then it thinks about a plan.

The state of the rivers offers a preview of what will happen in the wider environment if the Government continues to put profits before sustainability.

M. Pearce Richmond

When John Howard was asked if he showers with a bucket, he thought that was "a bit extreme", but he does not blink cutting off access to the Murray-Darling to our food producers.

Come on, John, we want to see you tipping the morning bucket on the garden like the rest of us, not striding out in your trackies with a bevy of minders. Think global, act local.

Melissa Ward Bilambil Heights

While not doubting the power of prayer, is it the best option for a government's water policy?

John Cook Chatswood

Pray? After years of ignoring climate change experts, the looming economic train crash has galvanised John Howard into action.

And, at this 11th hour, the power of prayer is all he can come up with. Not good enough, I'm afraid.

C. Northcott Oatley

Before the last federal election we were being "alarmed" about terrorism. A few months from the next election, we are being "alarmed" about water shortages and the effect on the economy.

I am truly alarmed about how a government in office for more than a decade has allowed the situation to reach such critical proportions.

L. Francis Jannali

Consulted the tea leaves and chicken entrails this morning and they indicate praying for rain will have exactly the same effect as Costello praying to be handed the prime ministership.

Rog Cooper Boambee East

With water so scarce, it is time to choose. I'd rather eat fruit and veggies than cotton.

Gillian Scoular Annandale

The answer to the water shortage may well be the election of Kevin Rudd.

Weeks after Bob Hawke's election in 1983, the rains came and a drought was broken. Surely, a case of rainfall rates always being higher under Labor.

David Bolton Loftus

By week's end, we were reduced to prayer - for rain to save the Murray-Darling. But even the most devout thought the Prime Minister's prayer plan was unlikely to effectively restore our once great river system. As Geoffrey Cowling wrote: "Why does John Howard think God would answer the prayers of a man who will not even sign the Kyoto accord?"

Jennie Curtin, letters editor

Other reports:

The Sydney Morning Herald headlines with the threat to wetlands. :::[Drain wetlands to save towns]

EIGHT wetlands face being drained to free up water along the Murray-Darling as John Howard warns that Australia may have to import more food to cope with the historic drying of the basin.

The same paper editorialises that the link between global warming is not definitive, and somehow presents Rudd as the opportunist, rather unfairly, I thought. :::[Looking to the heavens for an answer to the drought]

While there may yet be proof of a link between global warming and the drought, Mr Howard is entitled to be sceptical. After all, Australia had droughts - long droughts, extreme droughts - well before talk of climate change.

Whatever the facts, the problem for Mr Howard is that drought and climate change have become messily entangled in the public mind. It is a perilous confusion for the Government in an election year - a confusion Labor will happily encourage. The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has taken out time from lecturing the Americans about the Chinese to say that while Mr Howard could not make it rain, of course he should have done more about climate change. Such politicking may leave Mr Rudd looking not merely petty but irrelevant as the full ramifications of the drought become clear.

And here it the controversial report itself. :::[Murray-Darling Basin Report]

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Carbon sink. Or swim

The recently released UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report says the following about the effect on sea level rise on "Small Islands":

"Small islands have characteristics which make them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, sea-level rise and extreme events," the report said.

"Sea-level rise is expected to exacerbate inundation, storm surge, erosion and other coastal hazards, thus threatening vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood of island communities."

The carefully-worded, bureaucratic language occludes the very real fact that it's happening already:
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That sinking feeling

In our own backyard, the people of the Carteret Islands - a tiny South Pacific atoll north-east of Papua New Guinea - are the first in the world to be evacuated due to rising sea levels.

Salt water has already destroyed their coconut palms and food gardens are in ruins. Some villages have built sea walls from clam shells in an attempt to hold back the tides. By 2015, the Carterets will disappear altogether.

Families will soon begin moving - 10 people at a time - to neighbouring Bougainville Island. Bougainville's deputy administrator Raymond Masono says this could happen as early as June.

"The feeling is very positive about moving," he says. "Right now they are realising that [in] 20 years' time they will not have any choice so they prefer to face [moving], than face the extreme circumstances of the future.

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Google Maps: Carteret Islands. Here is a Wikipedia entry that explores additional reasons for the Carteret catastrophe.

They are not the only small island communities to be worried. The current Australian Government has studiously ignored the calls for help from the people of the Tuvalu Islands. Luckily for them, our Kiwi cousins show a lot more compassion and a resettlement plan is underway. Two uninhabited Kiribati islands are under water and salinity has killed all the coconut palms on a third island. They have also approached New Zealand for help, apparently not even bothering with Australia. Why would they? Our Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, had this to say in response to the calls last year from France for a dedicated UN body to deal with the 200 million environmental refugees by 2050 that has been predicted by experts:

"A bit premature," he said at the time.

He's right of course. We clearly need a new government before shouldering any sort of responsible approach to climate change and its attendant upheavals. Elections are in November.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rupert backs Rudd: St Kevin's Kyoto coronation

In early 1066, an ambitious bloke called Guillaume le Bâtard (William the Bastard) left his dukedom to flick off to Rome and clear his regal ambitions with the pope of the day, Alexander II. Later that year, having being blessed in battle where he had flown the papal banner, Bâtard changed his name. History now knows of him as William the Conqueror, King of England.

I'm pretty sure nobody called him "bastard" again.

Guillaume was a tough and resilient man, smart and wily, but so too was his adversary, King Harold II. No worthy historian should underestimate the value of papal blessings when realms revise.

Yesterday an ambitious bloke called Saint Kevin (Aussie irony that approximates to 'bastard') left his dominion to flick off to New York and clear his prime ministerial ambitions with the patriarch of today's Anglosphere, Murdoch II.

'Tis a well beaten path that Kevvie le Heavy troddeth; the carbon footprints of Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and George W. Bush can't be too hard to miss. As a punter our fellow has form; so did Rupert give Rudd his papal banner? :::[SMH]

Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has endorsed Labor leader Kevin Rudd, saying he would make a good Australian prime minister.

Mr Rudd met for a one-hour private meeting with Mr Murdoch at the News Corporation's New York headquarters today, but the meeting was extended when the pair decided to have dinner together at a local restaurant.

When I was in sales I would always try to schedule my most important meeting for 11 am, just on the off-chance that my prospect enjoyed food. With this life lesson satisfactorily under above my belt I can confidently asset the following -- whomever Pope Murdoch breaketh bread with can consider themselves anointeth:

Channel Seven reported that when asked if Mr Rudd would make a good prime minister, Mr Murdoch replied "Oh, I'm sure."

I would love to see how the bookmakers odds changed after His three words. So -- Roopy is sure of Kevvie? Why is this good news for those concerned about global warming?

Mr Rudd has met with US government officials and business leaders and yesterday addressed the prestigious left-wing thinktank, The Brookings Institution.

In his wide-ranging speech on the Australia-US alliance, Mr Rudd urged the United States to ratify the Kyoto protocol, and said the economic potential of the relationship with China for both Australia and the US was great.

The Kyoto Protocol runs to 2012, but we two countries have been the hold-outs to date -- joining at this late stage can achieve less in terms of practice, but it is still very symbolic and very important that Australia, and hopefully the US, signs up. It's like playing cards with a full deck. Certainly, in the coal-coked context of Australian (and US) politics, Rudd has taken a bloody courageous stance, but the Murdoch imprimatur helps heaps. Good on you.

I'm pretty sure no one will call him 'Saint Kevin' again, definitely after December.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Dear ALP: Keep the 'no more uranium mines' policy

The ALP are currently on the verge of changing their current 'no new uranium mines' policy. A party vote is expected in the next couple of days. I have sent an email to give voice to my protest but - I have a blog - I can do more, and I might inspire others to do same.

Open e-letter to Senator Stephens of the Australian Labor Party:

Senator Ursula Stephens

Dear Senator,

As your classic swinging voter, I want to voice my extreme disapproval of the proposed move away from the current ALP 'no new mines' policy, and I want you to know that I will be actively campaigning against uranium mining on my blog, Global Warming Watch.

My objections are based upon the following reasons:
  • India is not a sig. to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
  • Our uranium may end up as plutonium in Iran, Pakistan, or a resources-hungry China in the near future.
  • Once Iran develops their nuclear capabilities, we can expect the rest of the middle-east to. Australia should not be party to this proliferation.
  • Much of the world, and Australia, has left it way too late to build nuclear power stations in order to combat global warming. Most experts say we have a window of 10 years to make deep cuts to our GHG emissions in to avoid hitting the global warming tipping points that are expected to push us into run-away climate change. If we start building now, most nuclear power stations will only be three-quarters complete in then years and would have generated hundred of thousands of tonnes of GHG in their construction.
  • Homer glowing uraniumUranium mining, processing, transportation, and the storage of spent uranium all involve processes that generate carbon dioxide. It is not as green some people say. Until you are glowing like Homer, that is.
  • The mining and processing of uranium that is proposed in Australia requires using a lot of water, water we currently don't seem to have enough of. In addition, prevention of contamination of the water-table and aquifers cannot be guaranteed.
  • Nuclear power stations cost a fortune to decommission.
  • The cost of nuclear power does not survive the free-market without government subsidy. How is this a long term energy solution?
  • There still is no solution to the nuclear waste problem.
  • A 'dirty-bomb' is the holy grail of terrorist groups - if we can't stop individuals in our Army from covertly selling weapons to criminal elements sympathetic to these terrorists, especially during the so called 'war-on-terror', what hope do we have of stopping uranium and derivatives from being subjected to same. Put another way, if a rocket launcher is worth $5,000 on this black market, how much is an ounce of uranium worth?
These reasons are off the top of my head, so may not be finessed as yet. But you can be sure they will be further explored, as my campaign develops, should the ALP persist with abandoning their no new mines policy.

Despite these objections, I am prepared to reconsider once we develop a way to detoxify spent uranium rods, say, within an individual's lifetime, and I would be happy to support any political party prepared to spend money researching this.

Kind regards,

Global Warming Watch

I will keep readers posted. Thanks to Don Henry, Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation for his email alerting me. You can make donations to the ACF here.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

PM voices dustbowl fears for Australia's breadbasket

To my mind it is the biggest news in Australia this century, if fair dinkum. Maybe even since Federation in 1901.

Prime Minister John Howard appeared on television today and threatened to cut off water supplies to the farmers of the Murray-Darling basin, if there are isn't heavy rainfall in the coming months. :::[Video: SMH]

If you are not familiar with the geography - the Murray Darling Basin is the food basket of Australia, and many other parts of the world that we export to. The immediate upshot of denying these farmers their water allocations is that this would radically increase prices for many food products. The longer term effect is that the many types of crops, citrus, stone fruit and the like, that take up to five years to become established, will die. So will a lot of farming enterprises.

I am completely taken by surprise. Gob-smacked. Yes I know there is a tough drought happening, and that it had been exacerbated up until last month by the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Yes I know global warming is very gradually taking its toll, slowly changing the climate in southern Australia to a drier one.

But this announcement has me disturbed.

It still seems so out of the blue. It's also not one that you would imagine a Prime Minister would be happy to make in an election year - why wouldn't a canny man like Howard leave it to his Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, to take to the podium alone? As I write I am almost starting to hope that this just might be typical Howardian politics, rather than drastic reality. Howard is desperately trying to get the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks to be part of his $10 billion water initiative; Could he be trying to scare Bracks into signing over his state's water powers to the Federal Government?

Interestingly, the biggest farmers are not panicking. They say they need Mr Howard to clarify what he means before they worry. :::[SMH: Water ban threat questioned]

The owner of one of Australia's 10 largest stone fruit farms is nonplussed by Prime Minister John Howard's declaration that no water will be allocated to irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin for the coming year unless there is substantial rain in the next six weeks.

John Corboy, of Corboy Fresh Fruits, which operates 400 hectares near Shepparton in Victoria, said he would need more information on what Mr Howard means by "very substantial" inflows into the Murray-Darling Basin before he paid attention to it.

Mr Howard did not specify how much rain would be needed by the end of May to make irrigation allocations a possibility.

Here is what Howard said:

"Unless there are very substantial inflows - and for that read heavy rain leading to run-off into the catchment areas - prior to mid-May 2007, there will be insufficient water available to allow any allocation at the commencement of the 2007-08 water year for irrigation, the environment or for any purposes other than critical urban supplies."

And what Corboy said in response when asked:

"It's not enough to really comment on, other than, 'Hang on mate, you're flying off the handle here and you're being fairly emphatic when there's so many unknowns.' "

"Realistically we're out of the el nino effect and the indicators are showing us that clearly, the oceans temperatures have come back to normal. The pundits are telling us within our area that we have 50 per cent chance of having higher than average rainfall [this season]."

"People tend to be getting into the view that it's just never going to rain again, well that's not the case, it will, we just don't when. And there's only one bloke who knows when it will, and he's not giving interviews."

I think I'll go with the man on the land this time. The manner in which the announcement was made seemed a touch incongruent for the gravitas of the situation - if it was for real. In addition, when one journalist queried whether the drought was linked to climate change, Howard was completely emphatic in saying that it was not.

How can anyone be so sure?

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Wall Street Journal reading Global Warming Watch

A good April so far; First Reuters picked up an post of mine, now the WSJ Online reckon they are reading me. I would love to put this down to my sexy blogging prowess, but it is more likely that global warming is a hot, hot, hot, topic now.

The bad news is that it is not going to go away soon.

WSJ reading DeSmogBlog is heartening news though - they are the Canadian PR folk who expose 'tricks of the trade' of the fossil-fuel funded global warming denial industry. They do such a great and useful job that I am always happy to plug them lately.
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The Wall Street Journal Home Page
Energy Roundup -’s look at energy news
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Blogs We’re Reading:

– Mark Gongloff

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