Thursday, November 7, 2013

David Suzuki's Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary (VIDEO)

David Suzuki's Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary (VIDEO)

"Fukushima is the most terrifying situation I can imagine," he said.
"Three out of the four plants were destroyed in the earthquake and in the tsunami. The fourth one has been so badly damaged that the fear is, if there's another earthquake of a seven or above that, that building will go and then all hell breaks loose.
"And the probability of a seven or above earthquake in the next three years is over 95 per cent."
Suzuki said that an international team of experts needs to go into the Fukushima plant and help fix the problem, but said the Japanese government has "too much pride to admit that."


  1. Climate change talks: no minister to represent Australia

    Neither Greg Hunt nor Julie Bishop will be at vital talks in Warsaw next week, breaking tradition going back to 1997

    Australia will have no government minister at the main United Nations climate negotiations next week, for the first time since the Kyoto accord in 1997.

    Diplomat Justin Lee, Australia’s ambassador for climate change, will represent the country at international talks in Poland, which are seen as vital to laying the groundwork for a global agreement to cut carbon emissions.

    Government ministers typically attend the final days of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change annual meetings. But neither Hunt, foreign minister Julie Bishop nor their parliamentary secretaries will travel to the Warsaw talks, which conclude on 22 November.

    A spokesman for the environment minister, Greg Hunt, told Guardian Australia he would be “honouring the election promise of introducing the carbon tax repeal as the first item of legislative business” when parliament resumes next week.

    "Minister Hunt indicated a month ago at the Sustainable Business Australia forum that he will be fully engaged in repealing the carbon tax during the first two weeks of parliament," he said.

    Hunt’s spokesman said the climate talks were under the remit of the Department of Foreign Affairs, representing a break from the usual practice of environment ministers attending the summits. Bishop will be attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka, which partially overlaps the climate change talks.

    A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed Lee would be the senior representative.

    "It is not unusual for countries’ delegations to be led by officials,” she said.

    There is confusion over what Australia’s approach to climate talks will be, after the government cancelled the traditional briefings given to businesses, diplomats and environmental organisations before the gathering.

    Australia chairs the “umbrella group” of nations, a negotiating bloc that includes the US, Japan and Norway. Hunt said on Thursday Australia would look to forge a “deep, strong international agreement”.

    Asked what Australia's contribution would be to an agreed $100bn climate change mitigation fund, to be given by wealthy nations to developing countries, the foreign affairs spokeswoman said: “The Australian government is currently considering budget and funding priorities, including for its foreign aid program. The government will consider any future climate finance contributions in due course.”

  2. Climate change 'exaggerated', says former Australian PM

    John Howard says Tony Abbott's victory was founded on climate scepticism and global deal on emissions will never be reached

    John Howard has told an audience of climate sceptics in London that Tony Abbott’s defiance on global warming in the face of left-wing zealotry was the foundation of his electoral victory in September.

    In a lecture at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, established by former Thatcher minister and climate sceptic Nigel Lawson, the former Australian prime minister insisted that the high tide of public support for "overzealous action" on global warming has passed.


    Will Abbott replicate Howard's climate change betrayal?

    Will Tony Abbott follow in John Howard's footsteps and disavow his climate change "direct action" policy?

    ..........As Lenore Taylor noted in The Guardian on Wednesday "Howard made it clear he actually didn't think there was anything really "significant" or "damaging" about greenhouse emissions and that his last-minute policy had been mainly about grasping the tide of public opinion, rather than any opportunities from emissions trading."

    ..........The obvious question is that if John Howard had won the 2007 election, would he have actually introduced a carbon price? Or would Howard have changed his mind once the global financial crisis hit a year later?

    Tony Abbott campaigned in the 2013 federal election against the carbon price. However, he did commit his government to reducing Australia's carbon emissions by five percent, as well as a "direct action" policy.

    The direct action policy has been widely derided by conservationists, scientists and economists; even the conservative Australian newspaper conceded that "most economists believe current Prime Minister Tony Abbott's direct action approach to curbing carbon emissions will be more expensive than an ETS."

    As I've written here before, direct action is just a fig leaf for climate change deniers in the Liberal Party's ranks. Within the policy though, there are some pretty explicit promises:

    An "Emissions Reduction Fund" of $3bn to fund projects that would reduce carbon emissions, based on a tender process
    Support for projects such as "soil carbon technologies and abatement"
    A commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 5% by 2020
    The establishment of a 15,000-strong Green Army
    Build more dams
    Plant more trees

    It's just two months since Tony Abbott was elected, but he was already walking away from his direct action commitments before election day. In July, after campaigning for years on his "green army" pledge, it was widely reported that Abbott would reduce funding by a quarter for a key plank of his direct action policy.

    ..............As Howard would say, direct action was a way to "do something" about global warming, because it was politically necessary to have a policy.

    Now he has won the election, does Tony Abbott feel compelled to keep any of his direct action policies?

  3. CO2 levels hit record high

    Concentrations of atmospheric CO2 continue rise to new average annual high, show greenhouse gas figures from the UN

    The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen to a record high – again.

    For the past nine years the UN World Metereological Organisation has produced an annual greenhouse gas bulletin, with each year notching up a record high for average annual levels, and figures published on Wednesday show 2012 was no exception.

    This isn't particularly surprising – in September the UN's climate science panel, the IPCC, told us that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were at levels "unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years." In May this year, CO2 levels briefly passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million (ppm), considerably higher than the average for 2012 of 393.1ppm. As we reported at the time:

    ...the last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today.

    As the WMO points out, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is only half of the picture. Much of the CO2 we're responsible for is being absorbed by the oceans, which Prof Piers Forster, a climate scientists at the University of Leeds, says will catch up with us eventually:

    This shows that greenhouse gases are heating the climate more and more every year. For the last decade or so the oceans have kindly been sucking up this extra heat, meaning that surface temperatures have only increased slowly. Don’t expect this state of affairs to continue though, the extra heat will eventually come out and bite us, so expect strong surface warming over the coming decades.

    The rate of increase appears to be accelerating, too. 2012 was already above average for the last decade, but 2013's rate of increase looks almost certain to be higher still.


  4. The whopping climate change footprint of two Australian coalmining projects

    Two Queensland mines would emit triple the greenhouse gas emissions of the Keystone XL pipeline, or six times the UK's annual footprint

    Over the past two years in the US, concerned citizens have been galvanised to march, rally, campaign and get arrested to block the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline – a project to pump a reported 830,000 tonnes of one of the world's dirtiest fossil fuels from Canada to Texas.

    The decision is still sitting with Barack Obama. Environment group the Natural Resources Defense Council says blocking the project will prevent as much as 24.3m tonnes of CO2-equivalent being released every year.

    Over the 50-year life of the project, that's 1.2bn tonnes of greenhouse gases – a huge amount.

    Yet if this level of emissions seems irresponsibly high – which it surely is in a carbon-constrained world trying to avert the risk of dangerous climate change – then how should we categorise 3.7bn tonnes of CO2-e, a figure more than triple that from the Keystone XL proposal?

    That 3.7bn tonnes is the total emissions of CO2-e which could be emitted by just two linked mega coalmines in the Galilee basin in Queensland, Australia, which have both been approved for development.

    The first mine is part of the Alpha coal project, approved in August 2012, and is owned by Indian energy conglomerate GVK, which bought the coal interests from Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart (who doesn't accept the science of human-caused climate change), in September 2011 as part of a $1.2bn deal.

    In the months leading up to the sale, Rinehart flew three federal MPs to India on her private jet to attend the wedding of Mallika Reddy, granddaughter of GVK's founder GV Krishna Reddy.

    Farmers and environmentalists have challenged the Alpha mine's approval in the Queensland land court, saying it will put vital underground water at risk and contribute to climate change. A decision isn't expected until early next year.

    Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting company still retains a 19% stake in the second mine – known as Kevin's Corner – which is majority owned by GVK and was approved by the environment minister, Greg Hunt, this month. Another court challenge is being considered.

    Climate change campaigners in Queensland are also trying to pressure rail company Aurizon to pull out of an as yet unsigned deal to develop the railway line needed to get the coal from the Galilee mines out to Abbot Point, where an expansion of the coalport is being planned.

    So where do I get that 3.7bn tonne figure come from?

    During the case in Queensland's land court, Hancock Coal appointed an expert to submit a report outlining the emissions from the Alpha coalmine – accounting for all the mining operations, releases of methane from the ground, use of explosives, transport, shipping and the eventual burning of the coal in power plants.

    The report, which was submitted to the court and which I have seen, indicates the Alpha mine will emit an average of 61.9m tonnes of CO2-e every year for the 30-year life of the project.

    If you add up the different categories of emissions detailed in the report, over the course of 30 years the project emits 1,857 Mt of CO2-e. This, the report detailed, was based on a total of 839.6 Mt of processed coal being produced and exported.

    Now to the Kevin's Corner project, which it is proposed will use an extension of the rail line being proposed from the Alpha mine to get the coal to Abbot Point.

    According to the environmental impact statement submitted by GVK, Kevin's Corner would emit an average of 2.02 Mt of CO2-e a year for a mine with a 30-year life.


  5. The whopping climate change footprint of two Australian coalmining projects


    That's a total for the life of the mine of 58.57 Mt of CO2-e. But this figure doesn't include the emissions from burning all that coal, because there's no requirement in the law to provide this, just as environmental approvals don't take into account the impact of projects on climate change.

    But the report does say that the mine will produce an expected 856 Mt of coal ready for export, a similar amount to the Alpha mine.

    For a conservative estimate of the emissions from burning the coal, we can take the emissions from transportation and burning coal from the Alpha mine as a proxy for the neighbouring Kevin's Corner project. This figure is 61 Mt CO2-e per year, or a total of 1,829 Mt over the 30 years. Add this to the other emissions from Kevin's Corner, and we get a grand total of 63 Mt of CO2-e per year or a total of 1,887 Mt Co2-e.

    So, the total contribution of these two proposed coalmines in the Galilee basin will be 124 Mt CO2-e a year for 30 years or a whopping (I think this adjective is now allowed) 3,745 Mt Co2-e. That's 3.7bn tonnes of CO2-e.

    Yet the vast bulk of those emissions will not make it to Australia's emissions accounts, because the coal will be exported and burned, mainly in India. The climate, however, couldn't give a monkey's where the emissions come from. The impact is still the same.

    But what does this massive carbon footprint mean in context?

    For one thing, these two mines' annual contribution would practically scrub out the savings from Australia's emissions reduction target.

    By the year 2020, the Australian government has committed to cutting the country's emissions by 5% from the levels they were at in 2000. That means that emissions in 2020 will be 159 Mt lower than they would have been if there was no target.

    A Greenpeace report has calculated that if the Alpha coal project was a country, its annual emissions would be higher than the likes of Austria, Columbia and Qatar.

    The United Kingdom's carbon footprint gives us another comparison. The UK emitted 571.6 Mt of CO2-e last year. The total contribution of the two Galilee basin mines – if stopped – would be like making Britain carbon neutral for six years.

    Yet these two megamines might just be the very large tip of a melting iceberg for the Galilee basin.

    The Queensland government has today announced a strategy to speed up coalmining projects in the Galilee basin, giving "first movers" a discount on the royalties they will pay for mining the coal as well as making approvals easier.

    The Indian-owned Adani Mining also has plans awaiting approval for a Galilee mine which, at its peak, would be producing 60 Mt of coal a year – double the capacity of the Alpha project.

    Newly elected federal MP Clive Palmer's China First coal project also wants to mine about 40 Mt of coal a year from the Galilee basin, with the project now awaiting approval by environment minister Greg Hunt.

    The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has outlined the world's carbon budget - that is, how much CO2 humans can emit from burning coal, oil and the like before global warming passes 2C. The IPCC took the period between 1860 and 1880 as the time when we started to eat away at the budget.

    To give the world a 50:50 chance of staying below 2C, total human emissions of carbon dioxide would need to stay below 840 gigatonnes of carbon .

    We have already "spent" 531 GtC of that budget, leaving 319 GtC left to go at.

    In terms of carbon dioxide, 319 GtC is 1,171 gigatonnes of CO2 – or 1,171,000 Mt of carbon dioxide left in the budget.

    If just these two Galilee basin coalmine projects go ahead, we should make that 1,167,355 Mt of CO2.


      Did you see us in the Courier Mail on the weekend?

      Kathleen Noonan wrote a great article in the Courier Mail on the weekend summing up the concerns about Bimblebox and Waratah Coal’s China First mine (see below). She’s right. The paperwork is sitting with the Federal Environment Minister right now. Please help us pressure Greg Hunt to reject the China First mine!

      Contact Greg Hunt

      Phone: (02) 6277 2276 or (03) 5979 3188

      You can also use this rare opportunity to keep the conversation going by sending a letter to the editor, explaining why we should protect Bimblebox:


      The Courier-Mail
      09 NOV 2013, Page 32
      Shame on this state of mine


      CALL me old-fashioned, but I'm a bit of a believer in due process. Wild and crazy notion, I know. Yet, I believe good government relies on due process. If due process is followed, even if you disagree with the politics of the decision, you can cop it.
      Ten years ago a bunch of people believed in due process too. They put up their own land in central Queensland to save it from being cleared, signing a conservation agreement with state and federal governments in perpetuity - meaning, for life.
      Just repeating, they signed a legally binding agreement with the state government.
      The federal government thought this land so vital, of such high conservation value, it kicked in $300,000 for the purchase.
      Yes, taxpayers, our money. Since then, the land has been nurtured and protected. These people spend their time and resources restoring it. They just love it because it is conservation heartland and full of birds, including the tiny Poephila cincta cincta, the black-throated finch.
      An extraordinary sighting of these 15g stocky birds was confirmed by its Atlas of Birds Project. The bird is listed as -'endangered'' by the Commonwealth.
      This area is the Bimblebox Refuge, an 8000ha patch of drylands ecosystem that is brimming with biodiversity, ( near Alpha, in central Queensland.
      Then, suddenly all that changed. The refuge is in the way of where Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal's 'China First'' thermal coal mine project is proposed for the Galilee Basin.
      Palmer is planning four underground mines and two surface mines, covering almost 70,000ha, exporting 40 million tonnes a year for 30 years. It is quite simply staggering in size.
      (All you greenies out there might as well forget about sticking up solar panels to try to reverse global warming and reduce carbon in your own backyard because, when this baby gets going, we will literally be rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.) When the mine was first mooted, the little people who donated Bimblebox land thought: Surely not, this won't go ahead because we've made an agreement with the government and due process will be followed. We're not living in Joh's Queensland anymore.
      Now, this is where is all turns very interesting.
      You see, Queensland's Newman Government has approved the massive China First Project. The issue of destroying the refuge didn't really pose much of hitch. A minor technicality, people.

    2. The Courier-Mail
      09 NOV 2013, Page 32
      Shame on this state of mine

      Early in August, it was announced in a press release that the Co-ordinator-General Barry Broe had approved it.
      Broe, who Premier Campbell Newman brought across from Brisbane City Council where he was divisional manager of infrastructure, has been busy this year approving many things, particularly anything huge. He's proven very handy at it.
      We've got Clive's mega mine and the mega rail line, and the $15 billion liquefied natural gas plant in central Queensland, just to name a few.
      In the case of Bimblebox, the landholders who signed the agreement in good faith were not informed of the decision by the State Government. They found out through the media.
      Here's where it gets more interesting. The proposed mega project still has to receive an assessment from the Federal Government. It is before Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
      Is this the same Greg Hunt who when commenting on climate change and bushfire intensity recently said he had 'looked up what Wikipedia'' said about it?
      Yes, that's right. This Environment Minister with all the research power of his vast department turned to Wikipedia, which teachers across Australia discourage our schoolchildren from using as a primary source for assignments on the basis it is not always reliable. Hunt has to assess a federal environmental impact statement recently completed by China First. And he has to determine whether the mine complies with new laws requiring a cumulative assessment of the impact it would have on water resources before it can proceed.
      The other big player in this is, of course, Palmer. What's that, you ask? Is this the same mining magnate who boasts of learning his political smarts from former premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen?
      The same man who is preparing to wield his powerful four-senator balance of power voting bloc from next July and therefore is crucial to the Federal Government wanting to get through legislation? Yes, it is.
      Still feeling comfortable about all this?
      If the mine gets the green light it will be the first time in history a Queensland property covered by a perpetual Nature Refuge Agreement is destroyed for mineral extraction.
      Now, readers, the backdrop to all this, of course, is the Greek chorus we keep hearing. Australia is open for business, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeatedly.
      Queensland is open for business, Newman says repeatedly.
      It's starting to feel like we're wide, wide open for business. (If you're a little uncomfortable with any of that 'due process'', then email


      Thankyou for your ongoing support,

      The Bimblebox Team

      PS: Many thanks to over 1400 of you that have signed the petition we sent around asking the minister not to approve more mines in the Galilee Basin until proper water studies have been done. We believe the Minister has referred the China First Project to the Independent Expert Scientific Committee for advice on the water impacts of the mine and will make a decision in December or January. We have to keep the pressure up! If you haven't already, please sign and share the petition here:

  6. Nevada residents win $19.5m settlement in toxic waste leak lawsuit

    Residents accused Atlantic Richfield Co of 'intentionally' concealing extent of uranium, arsenic and other leaked pollutants

    Rural neighbors of an abandoned World War II-era copper mine that has leaked toxic chemicals in northern Nevada for decades have won up to a $19.5m settlement from companies they accused of covering up the contamination.

    Atlantic Richfield Co and its parent BP America Inc acknowledged no wrongdoing under the agreement, which also calls for them to pay $2.6m in attorney fees to the legal team that represented about 700 past and present neighbors of the old Anaconda mine built in 1941 on the edge of Yerington about 65 miles southeast of Reno.

    Residents said in a class-action suit filed in 2011 that the companies had "intentionally and negligently" concealed the extent of uranium, arsenic and other pollutants leaking into their drinking water wells from the mine covering 6 square miles — an area equal to 3,000 football fields.

    "We are so pleased," said Peggy Pauly, 64, whose two-acre home borders the mine. She helped organize concerned families in 2004 after a US government whistleblower started publicizing studies that had previously been kept secret documenting health and safety risks posed by a plume of radioactive contamination migrating off the site.

    "It was a long ordeal, but it was worth it," Pauly said on Wednesday. "Residents wish we had never had to deal with any of this."

    The companies agreed to pay $7m in property damages and $900,000 to a medical monitoring fund. The final damages will depend on the cost of extending city water supplies to about 200 residents, estimated between $6.5m and $12.5m.

    BP America said the settlement is "fair and reasonable."

    "It delivers a good outcome for the community by guaranteeing the availability of a reliable, clean source of drinking water by connecting residents to the city water supply, and furthers the company's interests toward achieving a final resolution of groundwater concerns in the area without the cost and distraction of further litigation," the company said in an email to AP on Wednesday.

    About a dozen families filed the lawsuit in US District Court in Reno nearly a decade after they started pressing concerns with state regulators they said were too cozy with Nevada's mining industry to effectively enforce a cleanup schedule at the site, which the US Environmental Protection Agency since has assumed control of under its Superfund program.

    In 2008, a US Labor Department review panel upheld a whistleblower claim by ex-mine cleanup supervisor Earle Dixon who said the US Bureau of Land Management illegally fired him four years earlier for speaking out about the risks in defiance of local politicians who tried to muzzle him.

    "This was a small community taking on a big corporation in a mining town over mining pollution – an imposing challenge," Steven German, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a telephone interview from New York.

    Fueled by demand after World War II, Anaconda produced 1.7bn pounds of copper from 1952-78 at the mine in the Mason Valley, an irrigated agricultural oasis in the area's otherwise largely barren high desert.

    The EPA determined over the years that uranium was produced as a byproduct of processing the copper and that the radioactive waste was initially dumped into dirt-bottomed ponds that – unlike modern lined ponds – leaked into the groundwater.

  7. Hi,For doing business in Qatar, the most common practice with Incorporation in Qatar is to establish a Limited Liability Company.Thanks....

  8. Sweet oil is like jam to Rey Resources


    From: The Australian November 12, 2013

    REY Resources (REY) managing director Kevin Wilson had a Prince Charles-type moment recently, declaring that he hoped to become the jam in a doughnut.

    There is some sense to the jam hope. But first to the doughnut. It is a reference to what was the doughnut-shaped acreage position covering the Ungani oil trend held by the trailblazing joint venture between Buru Energy and Japan's Mitsubishi in the onshore Canning Basin in Western Australia.

    The Canning push by the joint venture has yielded the exciting Ungani sweet oil discovery, and there is also the oil/gas potential of the Laurel Formation (tight gas plays) and the deeper Goldwyer Shale (oil/wet gas in shales) that will be worked up by the joint venture and some other big-name players in the years ahead.

    As exciting as the 2011 Ungani oil discovery has been -- work on increasing its daily output from 3000 barrels to 7500 barrels by the end of next year from its conventional dolomitic carbonate reservoir is well advanced -- there was a big (acreage) hole in the ability of the Buru-Mitsubishi joint venture to chase up the game-changing discovery elsewhere in the trend.

    The acreage hole was the two permits held by Rey and its former major shareholder, India's Gujarat NRE Oil, which were smack bang in the middle of the Buru-Mitsubishi's acreage position and on trend from Ungani discovery -- creating the hole in the doughnut. That hole was plugged last October by the Buru-Mitsubishi joint venture.

    But it was in a way that allowed Rey to stay on as a 25 per cent participant (including 10 per cent free carried to production) in the two permits -- EP457 and EP458.Whether future exploration on the permits does in fact produce jam in the form of more oil discoveries remains to be seen. But we won't have to wait long as Buru (operator of the two permits and an equal participant with Mitsubishi with a 37.5 per cent interest) has been busy working up fresh targets along the Ungani trend, on the Rey joint venture ground and elsewhere.

    In addition to what Buru-Mitsubishi have planned elsewhere in the region, it is likely that two wells will be drilled next year looking for the jam in the Rey permits -- a conventional oil target in EP457, the boundary of which is 15km from the Ungani oilfield, and another well in EP458 farther to the southeast, probably as a test of the Laurel Formation's tight gas potential.

    Needless to say that it will be off to the races for all involved should more commercial oil finds be made in the Ungani trend, remembering that the thing is 120km long and 40km wide, most of it sitting in the permits in which Rey sits as a 25 per cent partner, with an obligation to fund an effective 16.7 per cent of the costs.

    The market has been warming to the leveraged upside in all that, pushing Rey shares from about the 7c a share mark last month to 12c a share, valuing the company at about $75 million.

  9. Sweet oil is like jam to Rey Resources

    That is a far cry from its value when Rey was purely focused on the Duchess Paradise steaming coal project elsewhere in the Canning Basin.

    Rey actually tried to sell Duchess Paradise to Singapore's Crystal Yield Investments earlier this year. But Crystal later opted instead to achieve exposure to the long-term potential of the coal, as well as what is to come on the oil and gas front, by taking up a placement in Rey at 8c a share, increasing its stake to 19.9 per cent.

    The recent spurt in Rey's share price to 12c a share earned the company a "speeding ticket" from the Australian Securities Exchange. The explanation was simple enough: yet another international oil and gas group has moved into the Canning, for its conventional oil and its unconventional oil/gas potential, the latter as big as just about anything scoped up by experts elsewhere in the world.

    The latest entrant was US group Apache Energy in a farm-in deal with the Buru-Mitsubishi joint venture covering parts of the Goldwyer Shale areas of their Canning portfolio, and said to be prospective for shale oil and gas as well as for conventional sandstone reservoirs, particularly in the southern areas. It was a big spending one too. Apache is to earn a 50 per cent interest in four nominated permits by funding a $25m exploration program next year.

    Elsewhere in the Canning, PetroChina and ConocoPhillips have partnered with New Standard, owned 5.9 per cent by Buru. So all in all the Canning is hotting up, more than the general market would suspect.

    Success in exploration programs slotted for latter this year, and coming on with a rush next year, is set to lift all those companies with exposure, including little old Rey.


    Aerial view of gas wells in Texas - big picture

    During a flight over Texas, the artist Amy Youngs noticed the landscape has been transformed with new rectangular marks etched into the earth, made not by farming but by drilling for gas

  11. End this 'climate madness', Philippines tells global warming summit

    The Philippines has made an impassioned plea to nations to act on climate change and prevent super typhoons such as Haiyan, which has devastated much of the country, from becoming “a way of life”.

    We refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life

    The country's lead negotiator at the United Nations climate summit in Warsaw, Naderev Sano, said Haiyan was “was [like] nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has ever experienced before”.

    As many as 10,000 people are feared dead in the city of Tacloban alone, with rescues yet to reach many other areas in the region.

    Mr Sano described his own family's struggle after the storm – possibly the most powerful ever recorded, with wind speeds reaching 314km/h by some accounts – with his brother “gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands”.

    “To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair,” Mr Sano said, according to a transcript of his speech carried on a climate change website.

    “You may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.”

    Scientists say that limited data on cyclone activity, particularly for basins other than the North Atlantic, make it difficult to detect signs that climate change brought on by humans burning fossil fuels and land clearing is already contributing to making storms such as Haiyan stronger.

    However, warming sea-surface temperatures – one element contributing to cyclonic development – are adding to the energy available when storms form, while rising sea levels mean the risk of inundation during such events is increased. Climate models also indicate that in the future such storms may actually reduce in number but become more powerful when they form, while a new paper has found rainfall patterns are already changing.

    “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” Mr Sano said, in a speech that ended with a standing ovation by delegates to the 19th Conference of the Parties gathering. “The climate crisis is madness.”

    Voluntary fast

    Mr Sano's comments came on the first day of the summit, which runs until November 22. He said he would fast for the duration of the conference “in solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days”.

    The Abbott government has downgraded Australia's attendance at the Warsaw talks, sending Justin Lee, the Climate Change ambassador, rather than a minister, and vowing not to make any commitments other than the pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020.

    The government will mark the opening of the new sitting of Parliament in Canberra on Tuesday with a batch of bills to scrap Labor's carbon price and to dismantle climate change-related bodies.

    Mr Sano said emissions reductions targets of developed countries were “dangerously low and must be raised immediately”.

    Even a reduction of 40-50 per cent on 1990 levels would lock the world into a changing climate, he said.

    Developing countries now had to join rich nations in making urgent emissions cuts as well, he said.

    “We cannot sit and stay helpless, staring at this international climate stalemate,” Mr Sano said. “It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway.

    “We refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life,” he said.

    Mr Sano also noted that another storm was forming in the western Pacific.

    “I shudder at the thought of another typhoon hitting the same places where people have not yet even managed to begin standing up.”

  12. IT seems all this carry on is just to justify an increase in tax - and it will mean a broadening and an increase to the GST.


    Cut wages: PM's business adviser

    The hand-picked head of Tony Abbott's business advisory group has urged cuts to Australia's minimum wages and demanded more power for corporate Australia at the expense of consumers.

    Maurice Newman, a former chairman of the ABC and the Australian Securities Exchange, used a speech last night to also urge the Prime Minister to consider ditching some election promises to make the necessary changes to "save" the country.

    Mr Abbott wants the business group to advise him and Cabinet on ways to "develop the economy".

    In a speech to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, Mr Newman was critical of the former government, claiming it had engaged in reckless spending and class warfare to the detriment of the nation.

    Australians had become too used to high wages and an industrial relations system that was too rigid. Changes in both were necessary.

    "We have long since breached our salary cap, not just by the standards of our low-cost regional neighbours, but also our peers," he said. "In the end, regardless of union pressure and criticism from political progressives, relative international wage alignment will occur, either through exchange rate adjustment, unemployment, technology inflation or a combination."

    While wanting lower wages, Mr Newman said corporate Australia was being held back by laws that gave too much power to consumers. He said an overhaul of competition laws, with an eye to enable firms to merge into bigger entities, had to be considered.

    "If we are not ultimately to become a branch economy, the opportunity for Australian companies to become national champions at home must be considered by rebalancing the interests of consumers and businesses," he said. "To do otherwise is to encourage companies to shift to more friendly domiciles, sell to foreigners or, if all else fails, to close their doors."

    Mr Newman has not been afraid to express strong views, previously attacking the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology for their research into the "myth" of anthropological climate change.

    The businessman said while government debt levels were too high and had to be wound back, more debt was needed to finance major infrastructure projects.
    "Given that mining investment will be winding down and employment prospects may become challenging for displaced workers, early commencement on commercially sound infrastructure projects could be very well timed," he said.