Friday, February 15, 2019

‘The invisible minister': Melissa Price accused of going missing on the environment.

She is being called the “invisible minister”, the cabinet member responsible for the environment who is accused of “disinterest” during Australia’s summer of natural disasters and record-breaking heatwaves.
 Three of Australia’s biggest environment groups say
they have not been able to meet with Melissa Price
since she was appointed minister last year.
Melissa Price has been criticised by three of the country’s biggest environment groups who say they have been unable to meet with her since her appointment last year. A fourth is accusing her office of being in breach of its responsibilities on threatened species.

The criticism comes during a summer that has brought numerous environmental catastrophes, including the mass fish kill in Menindee in far-west New South Wales, fires in Tasmania’s world heritage area, a record-breaking January heatwave, and floods in Townsville that Queensland’s premier Annastacia Palaszczuk described as unprecedented.

While the prime minister Scott Morrison and other senior members of the government including Michael McCormack and David Littleproud have made public appearances in towns affected by the disasters, Price has been absent.

Renewables will be the main source of global energy by 2040, BP says

Oil and gas giant BP says renewable energy will rapidly become the world’s main source of power within the next 20 years, as the planet shifts towards a lower carbon future.
BP is predicting a future that is powered more by renewables than coal or gas.CREDIT:
"The pace at which renewable energy penetrates the global energy system is faster than for any fuel in history," BP said in its latest annual Energy Outlook report.

Read the story from The Age by Cole Latimer - “Renewables will be the main source of global energy by 2040, BP says.”

Tidal power among North Korea's new sanctions-proof energy technologies

Nampo, North Korea: Power-strapped North Korea is exploring two ambitious alternative energy sources - tidal power and coal-based synthetic fuels - that could greatly improve living standards and reduce its reliance on oil imports and vulnerability to sanctions.
Young joggers pass by as smokes billows from the stack
of the Pyongyang Power Plant in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Finding a lasting energy source that isn't vulnerable to sanctions has long been a top priority for North Korean officials. Leader Kim Jong-un used his New Year's address last month to call on the country to "radically increase the production of electricity" and singled out the coal-mining industry as a "primary front in developing the self-supporting economy." For the longer-term, he stressed the importance of atomic, wind and tidal power.

Read the story from The Age by Eric Talmadge - “Tidal power among North Korea's new sanctions-proof energy technologies.”

Coalition at odds with states over energy savings measure

Tensions between the Commonwealth and the states over national energy policy have reignited after Queensland accused the Morrison government of dumping a measure considered critical to lowering household power bills.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.CREDIT:
However federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor rejects the claims, which relate to a measure making it easier for consumers to check which electricity retailer is offering the cheapest deal.

Read the story from The Age by Nicole Hasham and Shane Wright - “Coalition at odds with states over energy savings measure.”

Plans for first Chinese solar power station in space revealed.

Beijing: China is taking its renewable energy push to new heights, with scientists revealing plans to build the first solar power station in space.
The sun photographed by NASA's Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope.CREDIT:
A solar power station orbiting the earth at 36,000 kilometres could tap the energy of the sun's rays without interference from the atmosphere, or seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight, Chinese media reported.

Construction of an early experimental space power plant has begun in the inland city of Chongqing, China's Science and Technology Daily reported on its front page.

A researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, Pang Zhihao, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing "an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”.

Read the story from The Age by Kirsty Needham - “Plans for first Chinese solar power station in space revealed.

6 Compelling Reasons Climate Change Might Be A National Emergency.

Weather and climate disasters.
There is talk of a national emergency declaration. The National Emergencies of 1976 spells out the broad powers and limitations of such an executive declaration. Some argue that activities at the U.S. Southern border pose a grave threat to American lives.  Statements from the Pentagon and other sources offer alternative perspectives on how "dire" things really are at the border. Experts estimate that between 445 and 600 homicides (not multiple thousands as claimed) were killed by undocumented immigrants in 2018. Studies also show that they are not more likely than U.S-born individuals to commit homicide. I will let others debate the reality of the situation at the border, but I do want to make a point. Roughly 500 people were killed in only hurricanes (Harvey, Maria, Irma, Michael, Florence) from 2017 to 2018. The 2018 Camp Fire in California killed at least 85 people. Heat and flooding kills more people in the U.S. annually than any other weather disaster, and the numbers in 2018 were no different. If a precedent is being set for national emergencies, there is a compelling argument for a future leader to consider climate change. Here are six reasons why.

Read the story from Forbes by Marshall Shepherd - “6 Compelling Reasons Climate Change Might Be A National Emergency.

City battles the dry

Last year was Shepparton’s driest in 12 years.

Feeling the heat: The city had
sweltered through heatwave-like
 conditions during January, with
 the mercury passing 40°C on
 eight days.
According to Bureau of Meteorology rainfall readings at Shepparton Airport, the city received a total of 266.4 mm last year.

This is the lowest annual rainfall at the site since 2006, when a total of 183 mm was received.

The 2018 annual rainfall total was also the third lowest on record for the site, according to BoM.

By contrast, the yearly rainfall total for 2016 was 640 mm, while 426 mm fell in Shepparton in 2017.

Furthermore, 2018 had the driest February on record at Shepparton Airport with just 1 mm of rain recorded.

This total was surpassed last Thursday, February 7, alone, with 4.2 mm falling in the city.

Last month, Shepparton received just 6.6 mm; the fourth-lowest January rainfall in the past 22 years.

BoM climatologist Simon Grainger pointed to last year’s rainfall figures as being ‘‘all part of the drought that had a lot of publicity in NSW’’.

‘‘But northern Victoria was also affected by that.’’

While BoM has three-month rainfall forecasts, Mr Grainger said the current one, encompassing February to April, had not offered a strong indication for higher or lower-thanaverage rainfall for this winter.

The three-month seasonal outlook indicated it was too early to tell at present.

The city had also sweltered through heatwave-like conditions during January, with the mercury passing 40°C on eight days, and reaching a high of 46°C on January 25.

Mr Grainger said looking over the longer term, Australia had seen rainfall decrease during the past 20 years, as well as since early in the 20th century.

He described temperatures in Shepparton last year as being ‘‘very much above average’’, adding they were in the top 10 per cent of all years since 1910.

The climatologist referred to a state of climate report which found in south-east Australia April to October rainfall had declined by 11 per cent in the past 20 years compared to the period from 1900 to 1998.

‘‘Temperatures in northern Victoria . . . were very hot over the last two months, but even (last year) they were 1.5 to two degrees above long-term average,’’ Mr Grainger said.

Referencing the same report, Mr Grainger said the prediction was that temperatures in the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin might increase by between 2.7°C and 4.5°C by the end of 21st century on an annual average basis.

But rainfall levels into the future, Mr Grainger said, were more difficult to predict.
‘‘Rainfall is a bit harder to get a more definitive feel for it.’’

Story from The Shepparton News - “City battles the dry.”