GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA
Six current articles below
Greenie fanaticism kills hospital patient
AN engineer has linked the state government's Climate Smart program with the decision to lower water temperatures at a Brisbane hospital where legionnaires' disease has broken out.
One patient has died and another is in intensive care after being infected with the bacteria, which has been found in water taps at the Wesley Hospital.
The hospital's entire water system is now being flushed out with hot water in a bid to kill the bacteria, with surgery and new admissions cancelled until at least next week.
An electrical engineer has told ABC Radio a push to save energy was one of the reasons water temperatures were lowered at the hospital.
He said the move was part of the government's now-defunct Climate Smart program, which aimed to help businesses and homeowners cut energy consumption.
He said anyone who used the Climate Smart service would have had the temperatures on their hot water systems turned down, something he says encourages bacteria such as Legionella.
"Anybody that's had the Climate Smart service had the temperature reduced from normally about 65 to 70 degrees, down to 50," he said.
The government has said the temperature was reduced to cut the risk of patients being scalded.
$600m of Australia's foreign aid to be blown on "climate change" programs
AUSTRALIA'S foreign aid program will spend $600 million on climate change programs in Third World countries.
Pacific, Caribbean and African countries will share millions of dollars to help tackle climate change while environmental advisers will be paid $200,000 or more to help some of the world's poorest countries.
Another $3 million will be spent developing five-star green energy ratings for fridges, airconditioners and other household appliances in the Pacific as AusAID searches for ways to spend its growing budget.
Millions of dollars will be spent to retrofit houses in poor African communities, while $15 million will be pumped into helping villagers along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
The Opposition last night called on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to immediately suspend the "wasteful spending" on climate change.
The $600 million spend on climate change comes as the rapidly growing aid program - managed by AusAID - has reached a staggering $13.3 billion in managed contracts, according to documents published this week.
More than 6000 separate contracts are being managed by AusAID, with 4000 contracts negotiated in just one year, 2010-11.
Documents show about $3 million is being spent to "build a group of Pacific leaders" with a greater understanding of climate change, while $20 million will be spent to help East Timor better understand changing weather patterns.
Senior government ministers keen to slow the large sums being channelled into foreign aid are likely to use Kevin Rudd's demise as foreign affairs minister to argue for budget reductions.
Coalition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop labelled the climate change spending "an outrageous abuse of Australian foreign aid".
"I call on the Prime Minister to immediately suspend this expenditure on programs that will have zero impact on global emissions," she said.
$100m - Climate change deal with Indonesia including "online forest fire monitoring system" and teaching "sustainable and adaptable" farming techniques in schools
$20m - Undertake climate change research through "Pacific Climate Change Science Program"
$3m - Develop a group of Pacific "leaders" who can better understand climate change
$3m - Help Pacific nations introduce five-star "green energy" ratings for fridges, air conditioners and lights.
$2.3m - Help Caribbean establish ``disaster management emergency" agency
$232,000 - Fund an environmental management adviser in Fed States of Micronesia
$194,000 - Provide training materials and policy briefs for Indonesian Govt officials
$182,000 - Conduct "greenhouse gas emission assessment" of Vietnam
$36,000 - Develop a DVD titled "Climate Change in the Pacific"
$15,000 - Aust booth at Climate Change Education Expo in Indonesia
Australian business group wants rethink on greenhouse gas emission targets
Australia should reconsider its pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by mid-century given the slow global action on climate change, the country's most powerful business group says.
The Business Council of Australia also wants Australia not to increase its short-term emissions target beyond the minimum 5 per cent cut backed by both major parties.
The federal government's Climate Change Authority is reviewing the national greenhouse targets linked to the carbon price.
Australia has committed to cutting its emissions by at least 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
It has said it could commit to a 15 or 25 per cent cut in that time frame, depending on the level of international action. Its carbon price legislation includes a commitment to an 80 per cent cut by 2050.
In a submission to the authority, the council says emissions pledges made at United Nations talks fall short of limiting global warming to two degrees - the level scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
The council says with the world headed towards warming greater than two degrees, Australia needs to consider less ambitious targets that reflect its fair share of cuts under less ambitious global action.
The council's deputy chief executive Maria Tarrant said the authority should carry out modelling to determine what Australia's targets should be under different warming scenarios.
"There is a big difference between what countries are pledging and committing and what is actually happening," she said.
The Climate Institute's Erwin Jackson blasted the council's logic. He said avoiding the dangerous impacts of warming would require countries to put forward targets that were ambitious, and that 80 per cent was the bare minimum Australia should commit towards meeting the two-degree goal.
Some experts have recommended Australia lift its emissions targets to reflect a growing pace of action around the world.
Professor Ross Garnaut, Labor's former climate adviser, said with the US, Europe and China making significant headway in meeting their targets, Australia should adopt a 17 per cent cut by 2020.
Disappointment for Greenies: Gas seepage could be natural in Qld
QUEENSLAND'S GasFields Commission says historial studies indicate methane gas seepage may have occured before large scale coal seam gas mining began.
The state's CSG arbiter, the GasFields Commission, says a range of soil surveys taken between the 1980s and 1990s found low levels of naturally occurring methane gas.
Commissioner Steven Raine says the historical studies of gas seepages in many coal basins undertaken by the state government, industry and research agencies show they occur naturally.
"The focus of our project was specifically to try and see what general historical data and information was available," he said in a statement.
"These soil gas surveys demonstrate that landscape gas seeps did exist naturally prior to the recent expansion of the onshore gas industry in Queensland."
Prof Raine noted that while initial evidence suggested that gas seepage could be natural, studies of seepages is some areas were yet to be completed.
KerAP, Crap and more crap: "Australia produced a record amount of renewable energy" in 2012
12% of the 13% would have been from DAMS, which Greenies hate. Australia has a lot of old hydro-electric plants (such as the Snowy) which the Greenies would not permit today. But they are very useful peak load facilities
Australia produced a record amount of renewable energy last year, with clean electricity sources such as hydro, wind and solar generating more than 13 per cent of the nation's power, new industry figures show.
A report by the Clean Energy Council says hydro electricity is still the most dominant clean-energy source, representing 58 per cent of all renewable electricity generated in 2012.
But the council's chief executive, David Green, said other sources were growing strongly, with wind energy rising to 26 per cent of renewable generation and solar to 8 per cent.
Despite the growth, the report also finds Australian investment in renewables fell by $1.3 billion dollars last year, from $5.5 billion in 2011 to $4.2 billion.
Much of the decline in investment came in solar, as government incentives to install rooftop panels were axed and the cost of systems fell. The fall mirrors a 10 per cent decline in renewable energy investment globally in 2012.
Mr Green said the findings showed technologies such as wind, solar and bioenergy were starting to make a major difference to the way electricity was produced and consumed.
Australian conservatives duck for cover over climate
(The next election is only months away)
The report below refers to various claims of sea-level rise. They may or may not be well-founded. Either way, no sea-level rise has been caused by global warming -- because there has been no global warming over the period concerned
The delegation of parliamentarians from four tropical Pacific Islands nations braved the Canberra cold last week, and that wasn't the only climate shock they suffered.
They watched the impressive intellectual exchange of question time in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and then moved on. But almost as soon as they left, Parliament started to debate a motion on whether the science of man-made climate change was real. This came as a bit of a jolt to the legislator visiting from Kiribati, a country of about 100,000 people on 33 small, low-lying islands strung along 5000 kilometres of the equator.
"Climate change is real in our places," Rimeta Beniamina, a government MP and vice-chairman of his parliament's climate change committee, told me, expressing surprise at what was going on in the chamber a few metres away.
"A few years ago it was not taken very seriously. But now quite a few villages are experiencing hardship. Beaches are eroding, houses are falling down, crops are damaged and livelihoods are destroyed.
"The intrusion of salt water is very evident. The sea level may be rising millimetres a year, but it is still rising. The strong winds and rising tides are the worst part. Once the salt water enters the land, that's it. Trees are falling along the coast, crops dying, pigs and chickens are affected."
A US study published over the weekend in the journal Nature Geoscience found the global sea level had risen by 16.8 millimetres between 2005 and 2011.
Clark Wilson, a co-author of the study and geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, says: "There was an increase in the melting rate in Greenland starting in 2005 and that is probably the underlying story why," according to the Wall Street Journal. The academic study was funded by NASA and the US National Science Foundation.
The rising seas are whipped up by increasingly severe El Nino weather cycles, damaging the coastlines of countries including Kiribati, pronounced kee-ree-bas.
"Some communities have been forced to move backward from the coast," Beniamina says. "The problem is, there is not much land to move back to."
People are jamming into the overcrowded main island, Tarawa. Its centre has a population density estimated at three times that of Tokyo, says an April report by Australian journalist Bernard Lagan in the Global Mail. Fresh water supplies are at risk and there is not enough land to bury the dead.
Kiribati President Anote Tong has declared a policy of orderly evacuation that he calls "migration with dignity". The nation is a proverbial canary in the carbon emission coal mine, and the prognosis is unhappy.
Beniamina says: "I'd be very surprised if people here were not aware of the science of climate change." But, of course, it's not awareness that is in question in the Parliament but conviction.
The Parliament was debating a motion put by NSW independent Rob Oakeshott to try to clear that up: "That this House expresses full confidence in the work of Australia's science community and confirms that it believes that man-made climate change is not a conspiracy or a con, but a real and serious threat to Australia if left unaddressed".
Why did Oakeshott think it necessary? "I thought it was important to get everyone on the record. Some of the Coalition members run around the country playing to an audience of conspiracy theorists and deniers."
The record does show that about a quarter of the Coalition's federal MPs have, at some point, expressed disbelief or outright denial that man-made climate change is real. Among them is Tony Abbott, who, before becoming Opposition Leader, said he was "hugely unconvinced by the so-called settled science on climate change", and famously called it "absolute crap".
The proportion of scientific papers published on the subject that reject the man-made origins of climate change is, however, far smaller than the proportion of sceptics on the Coalition benches.
Of about 12,000 scientific papers published worldwide in the 20 years to 2011, only 1.9 per cent did, a survey last month by James Cook University showed, and 97 per cent argued that climate change was real and man-made.
But when the Oakeshott motion was put to the House, the sceptics were nowhere to be seen. No one spoke against it in the bright glare of full national scrutiny: "We accept the science, we accept the targets and we accept the need for a market mechanism; we just happen to clearly, absolutely, fundamentally disagree over the choice of those mechanisms," Coalition spokesman Greg Hunt said. Prime among them, the carbon tax.
And when it came to the vote, the motion was carried on the voices, without dissent. This is taken as a unanimous vote. It "positions the deniers and the conspiracy theorists where they should be - on the fringe," Oakeshott says.
The topic of what to do about climate change is returning to the centre of the agenda for the world's two biggest economies and biggest carbon emitters, the US and China. It's one of the half dozen top issues at their coming California summit.
The problem will not go away for the planet, even after the Australian election, even if some would prefer to ignore it, although it's probably too late for Kiribati.
Qld. Premier sorry for soaring power prices, wants debate over Greenie concessions
PREMIER Campbell Newman has vowed to rein in the "mind-blowing, excessive" increase in electricity prices, flagging likely new charges for households with solar panels.
Submissions will go to Cabinet today regarding spending on poles and wires which has contributed to the 21 per cent price rise facing households.
It follows last year's Council of Australian Governments meeting, at which Prime Minister Julia Gillard sought agreement from state and territory leaders to reduce overinvestment in poles and wires.
Mr Newman said he was "very sorry" his Government could not deliver on his intention to soften power bills with a rebate - but he was working to limit future increases.
"There's some papers going to Cabinet which talk about all the things that will be done to take the edge off this sort of thing," Mr Newman said.
"It's a matter of national competitiveness now. People in the US and Canada and even the European Union now are paying less than us (for electricity). It has to be dealt with."
He said he also wanted a debate over the solar feed-in tariff which was "ultimately costing other Queenslanders".
"The solar feed-in tariff sees a relatively small group of households get a very lucrative deal, far too lucrative in many cases, and the rest of the households are paying for that," the Premier said.
"Roughly 180,000 households are benefiting with low power prices or getting cheques and well over 1.5 million are paying for that benefit to those people."
The Courier-Mail understands 92,600 Queensland households pay nothing for power or get money back as a result of the generous solar feed-in tariff introduced by the previous Labor government.
Under the deal, residents with solar are paid 44c a kilowatt hour for power - about 21c a kilowatt hour more than what it costs them.
The Newman Government has slashed the benefit for new solar panel installations to 8c.
Mr Newman described the situation as "just ridiculous". "The solar tariff feed-in situation is one that sees those with the financial means to pay for panels win at the expense of poorer households and disadvantaged people," he said.
"I'm just making the point today. "I'm not saying we have anything in particular in mind, but I'm saying firstly I want people to understand why we have high power prices."
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk urged caution on reduced spending on maintenance and expansion of the network.
"Now what we're seeing is a government that has no solution and has no answers when they went to the election saying they were going to lower the cost of living," she said.
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