Monday, October 21, 2013 Fukushima Emergency Fukushima Emergency

Japan's nuclear watchdog has now declared the leak of radioactive water from Fukushima a "state of emergency." Each day, 300 tons of radioactive water seeps into the ocean, and it's now clear that TEPCO has engage in a two-and-a-half-year cover-up of immense magnitude. 


  1. Here we are in Broome with a Shire elected mostly of people who only want to wring every dollar out of the place and to hell with all else.

    A state government digging up the place at full speed while running up massive debt and drastic cutbacks to services.

    A new federal government whose leader wants to model himself on the Emperor and do the same nationally.

    Close to 90% of the money will go overseas to investors lazing on their yachts in the Caribbean and the south of France.

    All this being driven by China moving 100's of millions of rural folk into cities so they can buy "stuff."


    Chinese city of Harbin blanketed in heavy pollution

    Beijing (AFP) - Choking clouds of pollution blanketed a Chinese city famed for its annual ice festival Monday, slashing visibility to a few metres, shutting schools and halting transport in scenes that underscored the nation's environmental challenges.

    Footage from Harbin on state broadcaster CCTV showed a screen full of charcoal-brown smog, with faint shapes and colours beneath hinting at roads, cars and traffic signals.

    Elementary and middle schools were ordered to cancel class and operations were halted for public buses, long-distance coaches and the airport, reports said.

    Highways were also shut, although multiple-car crashes were still reported.

    ..............."How scary! It's the apocalypse!" one Internet user in China wrote about the air quality in Harbin, which was a hotly-discussed topic online. Some users compared images of the pollution to scenes from a horror movie.

    Figures from monitoring stations in central Harbin showed concentrations of PM2.5 -- tiny airborne particles considered the most harmful to health -- reached 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, 40 times the World Health Organisation's recommended standard.

    ................Pollution from rapid development and heavy coal use plagues wide swathes of China, prompting public criticism and pledges from the country's new leadership to make improvements.

    ..................Air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths and 25 million healthy years of life lost in China in 2010, the US-based Health Effects Institute said in March.


    UN chief attacks Abbott's climate plan

    The United Nations says the NSW bushfire crisis is "absolutely" linked to climate change and Tony Abbott's Direct Action policy is dangerous.

    UN climate chief Christiana Figueres has told CNN the Abbott government will pay a heavy political and economic price for walking away from Labor's commitments on climate change.

    "What we need to do is put a price on carbon," she said.

    She said Australia, and the world, were already paying heavily in other ways.

    "We are really already paying the price of carbon. We are paying the price with wildfires, we are paying the price with droughts.

    "What we have seen are just introductions to the doom and gloom that we could be facing."

    She said Australia had not walked away from its international commitment on climate change, but was now "struggling" with how to meet those obligations.

    There was "absolutely" a link between climate change and the fire crisis playing out in NSW, she said.

    "The World Meteorological Organisation has not established the direct link between this wildfire and climate change - yet," she said.

    "But what is absolutely clear is that the science is telling us that there are increasing heatwaves in Asia, Europe and Australia ... that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency."

    Ms Figueres said the world was closing a window on itself, but there was still time.
    "That's not the only scenario. We could - as humankind - we could take vigorous action and we could have a very, very different scenario."

  2. The mad scramble to try and make up for stuffing up Australia's biggest river system and the effects of climate change.
    Massive land clearing and salinity and building on flood plains.
    Dams and wasting water.
    Now mining and fracking.

    How will crops grow in the ever increasing heat and how much water will they really need?


    Barnaby Joyce pushes northern tax zones

    BARNABY Joyce has pre-empted a major policy paper on developing northern Australia, demanding a "substantial difference in tax liability" for residents and businesses in the region. The Coalition promised in June it would issue a white paper on personal and business tax incentives for northern Australia in its first year of office.


    I guess all the krill being harvested will lead to starving whales washing up all over - but the sharks may get a feed.

    Russia, China could veto marine reserves

    AUSTRALIA wants to create the world's largest marine parks, in the oceans around Antarctica, but there are concerns Russia and China may veto the move. The global body responsible for marine life in Antarctica begins meeting in Hobart this week amid intense diplomatic lobbying over plans to declare marine protected areas covering almost three million square kilometres.

    Sponsored by Australia, the US, New Zealand, France and the EU, the proposed MPAs have been scaled back to try to win over reluctant nations, who fear the impact on toothfish and krill harvesting.

    Global environment groups, also converging on Hobart to monitor the meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, are disappointed that a plan to protect 2.3 million square kilometres of the Ross Sea has been almost halved.

    Instead, the proposed Ross Sea MPA has been shrunk to 1.3 million square kilometres and its "no-take" area banning fishing has been reduced from 1.6 million square kilometres to 1.25 million square kilometres.

    "It would still be the largest no-take reserve on the planet and we wouldn't scoff at that -- it would be a very, very significant move," Antarctic Ocean Alliance campaign director Steve Campbell said.

    Australia is "hopeful" the commission, which makes decisions by consensus, meaning one or two nations can veto proposals, will back its plan for a 1.6 million square kilometre MPA in East Antarctica.

    Australian delegation leader Tony Fleming said the areas of the Southern Ocean in question were vulnerable and critical to Antarctic ecosystems, including krill and toothfish nurseries and seal and penguin foraging habitat.

    Russia and China defeated the proposals put forward late last year and a further commission meeting in Germany in July failed to break the deadlock. However, Dr Fleming said Australia and other countries had worked to refine the MPA proposals to try to overcome concerns. "We remain positive," he said.

    Ten countries have been legally fishing for toothfish in the Southern Ocean since 2000, including Russia, South Africa and Uruguay and six harvest krill.

    As well as legal fishing, governed by quotas imposed by the commission, there are concerns about illegal fishing.

    The AOA, a global alliance of conservation groups, wants fishing in the region removed from the most sensitive ecosystems.

    "The commission already controls the quantity of fishing and the fishing effort in the Southern Ocean but what really is at stake here is moving the fishing out of key ecosystems over long-time scales," Mr Campbell said. "That way, we get the key ecosystems protected and the well-regulated fishing happening in other areas of the Southern Ocean.

    "The marine parks issue is seen as a pivotal moment for the commission. Some member states, including Russia, have questioned whether it had the legal standing to create marine park reserves. Mr Campbell said the commission had such powers.

    A potential compromise might be time limits on the proposed MPAs, so that after 20 or 30 years they could be reviewed and, if backed by a consensus, revoked.

  3. Yachtsman describes horror at ‘dead’, rubbish strewn Pacific Ocean

    Ivan MacFadyen says he was shocked by absence of sea life during his 37,000km voyage between Australia and Japan

    Ivan MacFadyen told of his horror at the severe lack of marine life and copious amounts of rubbish witnessed on a yacht race between Melbourne and Osaka. He recently returned from the trip, which he previously completed 10 years ago.

    “In 2003, I caught a fish every day,” he told Guardian Australia. “Ten years later to the day, sailing almost exactly the same course, I caught nothing. It started to strike me the closer we got to Japan that the ocean was dead.

    “Normally when you are sailing a yacht, there are one or two pods of dolphins playing by the boat, or sharks, or turtles or whales. There are usually birds feeding by the boat. But there was none of that. I’ve been sailing for 35 years and it’s only when these things aren’t there that you notice them.

    MacFadyen said that the lack of ocean life started at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, describing Queensland waters as “barren” and “unquestionably overfished”.

    “We saw a boat come towards us and we thought they might be pirates, but they had bags and bags of fish,” he said. “We said ‘there’s only two of us, we can’t do anything with all that’ and they said 'don’t worry, just throw it over the side'.

    “There was around 100 large fish there. But it was valueless for them because they were after tuna and nothing else. They just trawled the whole ocean and everything other than tuna was bycatch.”

    For the majority of the voyage to Japan, MacFadyen had to ensure that his yacht wasn’t holed by clumps of rubbish he said were “as large as a house”.

    “There were fenders from ships, balls of net and telegraph poles with barnacles on them that were never going to sink,” he said. “There was nothing like that 10 years ago. I couldn’t believe it.

    “We wouldn’t motor the boat at night due to the fear of something wrapping around the propeller. We’d only do that during the day with someone on lookout for garbage. When you stood on the deck and looked down you’d see the rubbish shimmering in the depths below, up to 20 metres under the water.

    “We went onto the US and back again. We did 23,000 miles [37,000km] and I’d say 7,000 of those were in garbage. The boat is still damaged from it. We had to free the rudder of rubbish one night, which was scary. We were terrified of something ripping a hole in the boat.”

    According to marine conservationists, overfishing is a global problem affecting nearly 90% of the world’s fisheries.

    The problem has resulted on catch quotas being placed on many species of fish, although the exact extent of overfishing in Australia is slightly unclear.

    Government fisheries data shows only bluefin tuna and the school shark are dangerously overfished in Australian waters. However, the Australian Marine Conservation Society’s guide to sustainable seafood places 26 species – including kingfish, snapper and tiger prawns – on a “red list” that should not be consumed due to their fragile status.

    Pamela Allen, marine campaigner at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, told Guardian Australia that there have been improvements in Australian fisheries in recent years but problems remain.

    “The quota for bluefin tuna has just been increased by 10%, despite there being no evidence to justify this,” she said. “There are also issues in state fisheries — Queensland has no scientific observer system, for instance, and rely just on fishers’ logbooks for what they catch in sensitive areas such as the Great Barrier Reef.

    “Trawling the ocean results in a high level of bycatch because it’s hard to be exact with what you’re catching when you’re dragging a gigantic net along the sea floor.

    “Fish is one of the last wild foods we eat, along with mushrooms, and we have to realise that once it has gone, it is gone. Governments and fishers are making some changes but they need to move more quickly or there won’t be any fish left.”

  4. Direct Action: Coalition could bring in parts of its plan without legislation

    Greg Hunt says he has 'other options' if emissions reduction bill does not pass parliament

    The environment minister, Greg Hunt, has indicated he could implement parts of his Direct Action climate change plan without legislation as Labor tries to intensify scrutiny of the Coalition’s alternative climate change plan.

    The Coalition is trying to pressure the ALP to back the eight carbon tax repeal bills it will introduce when parliament resumes on 12 November, dubbing the new Labor leader, Bill Shorten, “electricity Bill” and demanding that he “make up his mind”.

    Labor’s shadow ministry, which met for the first time on Monday, has not finalised a strategy on the carbon price. A few backbenchers have argued the ALP should agree to the repeal rather than stand by the unpopular tax.

    A strong majority of the frontbench believes Labor cannot walk away from a credible climate change policy, or an emissions trading scheme, but do not want to be seen as defending the existing high fixed-rate tax.

    A key element of Labor’s strategy is to highlight questions and concerns about whether the Coalition policy can meet Australia’s minimum 5% emissions reduction target and the risk that – as Direct Action is being legislated separately – Australia could be left with no climate policy at all.

    But Hunt said on Monday if legislation to implement Direct Action did not pass parliament there were “other options to do it” and he was “exceptionally confident” he could enact the emissions reduction fund.

    Effectively a grants program, the ERF could be set up without legislation. But climate experts question whether the rest of the Coalition policy – particularly compliance arrangements – could be set up without legislative change.

    Speaking on Sky television, the shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, said: “The carbon tax needs to be terminated and a new set of arrangements put in place ... the key issue is what flows after that.

    “We do need to have a discussion about so-called Direct Action and what it can achieve … if [the Coalition] thinks they can just railroad it through, bully it through ... then they are sadly mistaken.”

    As Guardian Australia reported last month, the minority party crossbench senators who would determine the fate of Direct Action legislation are sceptical about the need for any policy to combat climate change, meaning that without the support of the ALP or the Greens the Coalition would not be able to legislate its scheme.

    The Coalition is seeking submissions on terms of reference for a series of discussion papers, with the aim of finalising details of its policy by next year.