Thursday, March 28, 2013

60 Minutes: Sacred stones on MSN Video

60 Minutes: Sacred stones on MSN Video

60 Minutes:   Sacred stones
It's simply magic and one of Australia's best-kept secrets. A national treasure to equal Uluru and Kakadu, a vast and ancient art gallery in the outback And it's being systematically destroyed… 
Woodside has a long history when it comes to destroying Australian natural and cultural heritage. Woodside are not good corporate citizens nor are they a responsible corporate player. Now they wish to destroy the living cultural heritage of the Lurrujarri Trail, grave sites,  the national heritage listed intertidal zone with 24 different dinosaur species, the migrating whale corridor, healthy bilbies colonies and endangered ecological community of the Monsoonal Vine Thickets. 
Do not trust them, they are out only for themselves and will destroy anything in their path, regardless of its value or importance.


  1. More strange days.


    Starving sea lion pups puzzle US rescuers

    The cute tale of a thirsty sea lion pup that wandered into a luxury California hotel bar this week is part of a more serious problem.

    Hundreds of starving sea lion pups are washing up on Southern California beaches, leaving scientists scrambling to figure out why.

    At island rookeries off the coast, 45 per cent of the pups born in June have died, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Normally, less than one-third of the pups would die.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has now declared an "unusual mortality event", allowing more scientists to join the search for the cause, Melin said.

    Pups are normally weaned from their mothers in April.

    Even the pups that are making it are markedly underweight, Melin said.

    The most recent pups weighed at the breeding area on San Miguel Island were about 16.8kg, but should weigh up to 26.7kg by now.

    Melin said she doesn't know how the pups are making it to the mainland, but they must be swimming with the currents.

    "That's a long way, and they are very small," she said.

    "They don't have a lot of fat, and the water is pretty cold. They are often dehydrated, which is typical with emaciation. It puts them in pretty bad condition."

    Those landing on the mainland may have been looking for food if their mother stayed out foraging too long, Melin said.

    Live sea lion strandings are nearly three times higher than the historical average, said the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    Between January 1 and March 24, 948 pups were rescued. Last year, only about 100 pups needed saving during the same period.
    Scientists are determining if the problem is food availability, disease or both.

  2. Collaborative science behind new marine park

    THE RECENTLY announced marine park to be established at Horizontal Falls along with Kimberley marine parks at Camden Sound and Eighty Mile Beach, will involve joint management between the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and Indigenous rangers.

    Marine scientist Chris Simpson, who is DEC’s Marine Science Program leader, says indigenous rangers will be involved in management and data collection that will go towards research.

    “For the next five years, there will be a major program of research and that’ll be where the science comes from to underpin the management of those marine parks,” Dr Simpson says.

    He says this will be funded by a $12million state government allocation, with the addition of about $18million from various institutions such as the CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and universities in the collaborative Western Australian Marine Science Institute (WAMSI).

    “We’ve just gone through a 12-18 month planning period to work out what science we should do and where it should go,” he says.

    “The major areas of marine species management are … turtles, coastal dolphins, hump back whales, and dugongs. We’ve got a small project on crocodiles and [another] on some of the migratory birds on Eighty Mile Beach.

    “The process of planning these projects is to pick the gaps presented by the unique characteristics of the Kimberley.

    “For example … the dugongs, turtles and coastal dolphins, there will be genetic work to work out if they are part of a wider population.

    “We don’t know how many dugongs are up there, we don’t know if they are … connected to the Shark Bay population or the Indonesian population.

    “There will be aerial surveys to work out the distribution and abundance of these species.”

    “We’ve also got major studies looking at the oceanography of the area … we [are] looking at remote sensing as a monitoring tool.”

    He says about a quarter of the funding is devoted to studying critical habitats such as corals, coastal mangroves, seagrass meadows, sponge beds, soft sediment communities and the like.

    “We’ve got a major social program; the human use of the entire Kimberley, [and ] we’ve got an Indigenous program trying to look at Indigenous coastal knowledge,” he says.

    Dr Simpson says the studies will include proposed marine parks at North Kimberley and Roebuck Bay.

    Dr Simpson will be retiring from DEC in late April after more than 30 years of working in marine science and conservation.

  3. Native title 'industry' costs miners millions

    MINERS say they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for a "significant industry" of anthropologists, archeologists and native title representatives to deal with Aboriginal cultural heritage regulations, with as little as 10-15 per cent of the funds for heritage purposes going to traditional owners.

    Projects also face costly delays because there are about 450 native title claims still outstanding, about half of which have been in the system for more than a decade, despite the legislation having been in place for 20 years.

    In a new submission to a Productivity Commission inquiry into the non-financial barriers to resource exploration in Australia, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies has called for caps on the fees that can be charged in the processes for protecting cultural heritage.

    The cost of conducting heritage surveys has ballooned, from $11,000 a day in 2010 to a current cost of $15,000 a day, although there have also been examples where the daily cost of undertaking the survey has topped $20,000. One resource company had budgeted $500,000 for heritage surveys and agreements for a $4 million exploration program, the association said.

    AMEC also wants a redoubled effort to resolve the backlog of outstanding native title claims, half of which have been in the system for between 10 and 18.5 years, according to the most recent National Native Title Tribunal's annual report.

    AMEC's comments come as business grows increasingly frustrated with the Gillard government for failing to fulfil its promise of cutting "green tape" on major projects after it abandoned a pledge to cut the duplication of federal and state rules. "The range, number and complexity of approvals processes are constantly increasing, resulting in unnecessary delays, additional costs and ultimately taxpayer revenue foregone," the AMEC submission warns.


    In a separate submission to the inquiry, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council calls for "legislative changes to implement proper protections for Aboriginal heritage due to the high number of Aboriginal sites that are consistently destroyed and damaged". These would include management processes that "recognise cultural rights and responsibilities of local Aboriginal communities" and "allow for the advocacy of Aboriginal interests".

  4. Mine staff shortage 'a myth'

    More than 7800 skilled jobseekers are looking for work in the resources industry, including 3100 from WA, according to a recruitment website.

    FIFObids, which lets companies "bid" for jobseekers, claims the figures contradict suggestions vacancies in the sector are hardest to fill.

    FIFObids co-founder Mike Haywood said it had signed up 40,000 jobseekers since its launch last year, including almost 8000 who wanted work in the resources industry and more than 6000 who were willing to work fly-in, fly-out rosters.

    "There are already enough workers to build a project of $20 billion in the Pilbara, including supervisors, engineers, electricians, fabricators, welders, geologists and crane operators," Mr Haywood said. "This data shows there is not a skills shortage as far as construction trades and mechanical and electrical trades go."

    The website requires jobseekers to create a free profile outlining their experience, allowing companies to search for the skills they require, make an unbinding offer and set up an interview. More than 500 workers are connected to companies each month and the site is growing by 1000 workers each week.

    According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released last week, mining employment in WA and across the nation peaked almost a year ago.

    There are now 110,500 people employed directly in the State's mining sector, an increase of 1400 over the past three months.

    Total mining job numbers across WA peaked at 116,700 mid-last year. Since then, and despite the February quarter increase, they have edged down more than 6000.

    Butler jobseeker Garry Richards, 51, quit his job at Australia Post last year and has spent the past few months studying and obtaining the necessary certificates to get FIFO work in the transport and logistics industry.

    He said the perception that there was plenty of work in the mining industry was a myth.

    "You hear that mining companies are screaming out for labour but I've got all the qualifications and done all the courses but can't get a job because I don't have experience in the mines," he said.
    "I just need that foot in the door."

  5. The Tar Sands Disaster

    IF President Obama blocks the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all, he’ll do Canada a favor.

    Canada’s tar sands formations, landlocked in northern Alberta, are a giant reserve of carbon-saturated energy — a mixture of sand, clay and a viscous low-grade petroleum called bitumen. Pipelines are the best way to get this resource to market, but existing pipelines to the United States are almost full. So tar sands companies, and the Alberta and Canadian governments, are desperately searching for export routes via new pipelines.


    The most obvious reason is that tar sands production is one of the world’s most environmentally damaging activities. It wrecks vast areas of boreal forest through surface mining and subsurface production. It sucks up huge quantities of water from local rivers, turns it into toxic waste and dumps the contaminated water into tailing ponds that now cover nearly 70 square miles.

    Also, bitumen is junk energy. A joule, or unit of energy, invested in extracting and processing bitumen returns only four to six joules in the form of crude oil. In contrast, conventional oil production in North America returns about 15 joules. Because almost all of the input energy in tar sands production comes from fossil fuels, the process generates significantly more carbon dioxide than conventional oil production.

    There is a less obvious but no less important reason many Canadians want the industry stopped: it is relentlessly twisting our society into something we don’t like. Canada is beginning to exhibit the economic and political characteristics of a petro-state.

    Countries with huge reserves of valuable natural resources often suffer from economic imbalances and boom-bust cycles. They also tend to have low-innovation economies, because lucrative resource extraction makes them fat and happy, at least when resource prices are high.


    Canada is true to type. When demand for tar sands energy was strong in recent years, investment in Alberta surged. But that demand also lifted the Canadian dollar, which hurt export-oriented manufacturing in Ontario, Canada’s industrial heartland. Then, as the export price of Canadian heavy crude softened in late 2012 and early 2013, the country’s economy stalled.

    Canada’s record on technical innovation, except in resource extraction, is notoriously poor. Capital and talent flow to the tar sands, while investments in manufacturing productivity and high technology elsewhere languish.

    But more alarming is the way the tar sands industry is undermining Canadian democracy. By suggesting that anyone who questions the industry is unpatriotic, tar sands interest groups have made the industry the third rail of Canadian politics.


    The federal minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, has attacked “environmental and other radical groups” working to stop tar sands exports. He has focused particular ire on groups getting money from outside Canada, implying that they’re acting as a fifth column for left-wing foreign interests.


    This coercive climate prevents Canadians from having an open conversation about the tar sands. Instead, our nation behaves like a gambler deep in the hole, repeatedly doubling down on our commitment to the industry.