Thursday, September 10, 2015


Four current reports below: Refugees, flowering trees, uranium and Pacific islands

Moron-talk: Global warming plays havoc with Auburn cherry blossom festival (?)

What complete rubbish!  For a start, there has been no statistically significant global warming for 18 years.  So observed variations in seasons over that period cannot be attributed to that.  All that is being observed is that seasons vary from year to year -- as they always have. 

Like many Brisbane people, I like crepe myrtles.  I have eight of them in my back yard.  There must be millions of them in Brisbane.

I have 17 metres solid of blossoming trees in my back yard in January -- in three colours

In tropical North Queensland, where I originally come from, we used to call them Christmas bushes, because they began flowering in early December.  In sub-tropical Brisbane flowering normally begins in January.  It can be early January or late January.  And in some years you can get some blossom in late December.  It's just a natural cycle.  It always has been variable and it always will be.  And there is no doubt that the flowering times of cherry trees will also vary by weeks -- JR

Cherry blossom festivals bring to mind beauty, tranquillity and the traditional Japanese song Sakura Sakura: "Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms, Across the spring sky, As far as you can see."

But the flowering of 180 trees at Auburn's annual cherry blossom festival has sent many young women into a giddy spin. "It's not quite like an Acca Dacca concert," said Greg Hodges, the curator of the Botanic Gardens with the Auburn City Council.

"People go crazy, it is like watching an old Elvis movie. There are girls jumping up and down screaming; it is not the sort of thing you expect in a garden," he said.  "It is such a quaint beauty in this day and age, and people get very excited."

A record 10,000 people visited last Saturday, and similar crowds – those wearing kimonos or Cosplay costumes get in free – are expected to visit the Botanic Garden's Japanese Garden cherry blossoms this weekend too.

Signs warn visitors not to shake the trees, even though catching a petal or capturing a photo with falling blossoms is a good omen in the eyes of some Asian visitors.

For organisers of cherry blossom festivals in Washington DC, Tokyo and Auburn, the trickiest part of the annual event is forecasting when the trees will flower, and hoping they bloom during the scheduled dates.

Specialists at the Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney say global warming is affecting when traditional late-winter and early-spring plants – from wattles to jacarandas –are flowering. Seasonal variations in rainfall and temperature can complicate timing, too.

Contrary to what most people think, a warm winter causes the cherry trees to bloom later. Mr Hodges said the trees – a mix of  flowering pear, apple, cherry and apricot trees – required a prolonged cold period in winter before they will bloom.

Because this winter was cold, about 70 per cent of the  trees are already past their prime, making him wish he had started the festival a week earlier. The white cherry and the flowering pears are still coming on, he said. Last year, he had the opposite problem. A warm 2014 winter meant there were "hardly any blossoms" in the first week.

Because these festivals are so popular, environmental groups such as WWF in the United States use them to highlight the impact of global warming. During the annual cherry blossom festival in Washington DC, WWF held a public talk on "A Blossoming Problem: The Disruptive Impacts of Climate Change on Nature's Calendar" to discuss how global warming affected cherry blossoms and other plants and animals.

A Japanese study also studied the impact of climate change on culturally significant events such as the timing of flowers on the trees.

It found 92 per cent of festival organisers said global warming was occurring, and it was affecting when trees burst into bloom. Organisers dependent on income from these festivals were more concerned about climate change than others.


Greenie group doesn't want refugees

Aid to live safely and sustainably far more effective, says  Sustainable Population Party

Sustainable Population Party rejects the moral posturing and political one-upmanship surrounding the current Syrian refugee crisis, and calls for sustainable global solutions to the human tragedy of forced migration.

In an ABC Radio interview today, World Vision CEO Reverend Tim Costello says “the [refugee] intake is the pimple on the hippopotamus” and “not really the main game.”[1]

Reverend Costello added “It's actually giving people hope in the camps that they're secure, they're going to be fed, that they don't need to flee - and above all... go back home. That's what they want to do. They just want to go back home, not come here, not go to Europe.”

William Bourke, President of the Sustainable Population Party agrees, saying “Whilst an increased intake should be considered, the current game of moral one-upmanship by politicians is unhelpful and regrettable. The government’s plans to increase the intake by 12,000 will cost a conservative $500 million, or around $40,000 per refugee.[2]

“How many people would $40,000 per year help to live safely in UN camps? According to the UNHCR, a donation of $300 per annum ‘can buy an Emergency Assistance Package to give a family the essentials for survival and shelter’.[3] If we conservatively assume a family is four people, that’s $75 per person. For every one person Australia resettles, we therefore forego the opportunity to help over 500 people in what World Vision’s Tim Costello calls ‘the main game’. Given the scale of the Syrian crisis, $500 million would be better spent helping over 6 million people than 12,000.

”Rather than simplistic moral posturing over increased permanent resettlement numbers, we align with Reverend Costello’s overriding aim to help people live safely now, and ultimately sustainably in their homeland. To achieve this ultimate goal, we also need to address underlying drivers of resource scarcity and conflict in Syria, including rapid population growth.

“Syria’s population has exploded from 3.5 million in 1950 to 23 million today. This growth dilutes natural resources like food and water, and ties into “economic problems, education costs and living costs."[4] At the current extreme growth rate, Syria will reach around 35 million by 2050. This increasing resource scarcity fuels growing conflict between militias and religious groups.

“To help address the global population crisis, Australia should also increase its total family planning and reproductive health services foreign aid from $50 million to at least $500 million immediately and to at least $1 billion by 2020, Mr Bourke added.

Press release

Australia's inaction on climate change set to dominate Pacific Island talks

Polynesians and Melanesians are not the most sophisticated people so believe the bull they are told about their low-lying islands getting submerged -- even though it isn't happening -- rather the reverse in a few cases  -- JR

Australia and New Zealand are expected to face strong criticism from Pacific Island leaders disappointed the nations are not doing more to combat climate change.

The issue will likely dominate this week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Port Moresby, ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris later in the year.

Pacific leaders want the world to work on restricting the global warming temperature rise to 1.5C, fearing a 2C target will risk the survival of many tiny islands.

Natural disaster recovery will be fresh on their minds. The summit starts on Monday, six months after Cyclone Pam, which flattened much of Vanuatu and caused heavy flooding on Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.

Host nation Papua New Guinea is grappling with the opposite problem – what could be its worst drought in 20 years and a potential food crisis.

The prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has said El NiƱo conditions have been exacerbated by the effects of climate change.

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are also experiencing a dry spell.

Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, who is boycotting the summit and will instead send along his foreign minister, had a crack at Tony Abbott at last week’s meeting of his rival club of Pacific leaders – the Pacific Islands Development Forum – that excludes Australia.

He urged Abbott to abandon the “coalition of the selfish” and put the welfare of small Pacific Island neighbours ahead of coal industry interests.

The Abbott government has announced a carbon emissions reduction target of 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030, which has been criticised for lacking ambition.

New Zealand’s target is a cut of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The summit is expected to sign off on a joint climate change and disaster management strategy for the Pacific.


Australia’s proposed India uranium deal given cautious green light despite ‘risks’

The government-dominated treaties committee has given a cautious green light to a proposed uranium deal with India, but only if the nuclear-armed nation agrees to a number of safeguards.

India is not a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) nor the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT), yet the emerging world leader is in dire need of energy.

As such, the committee report notes that: “It would be fair to say that, in this debate, there are no small risks or benefits. Every issue the committee has dealt with in this inquiry bears significant potential benefits and risks.

“The question for the committee is, then, given the benefits for Australia and India from the proposed agreement, can the risks be tolerated and ameliorated,” the report asked.

To counteract the potential risks of the treaty, including the possibility for Australian uranium to be used in the formation of nuclear weapons, the committee has made six recommendations.

Among them, the recommendation that the bilateral treaty only be ratified if India manages to achieve the full separation of civil and military nuclear facilities, and that the country establishes a new, fully independent, nuclear regulatory body.

It also recommends the International Atomic Energy Agency verify that inspections of nuclear facilities live up to international standards.

India, which is nestled between nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and China, is estimated to possess up to 110 nuclear warheads.

Australia should commit “significant diplomatic resources” to encourage India to sign the CTBT and facilitate a regional nuclear arms limitation treaty, the report recommends.

Labor changed its party platform banning the sale of uranium to countries that have not signed the NPT in 2011, paving the way for the deal with India.

The report highlighted the huge economic benefits of the treaty.

“From Australia’s perspective, selling uranium to India would double the size of an export industry, both in terms of income and employment opportunities,” the report said. “Moreover, it will do so in regional and remote Australia at a time when lower commodity prices are having an economic impact on these regions.”

The Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office estimates India’s import requirements for uranium could grow to 2,000 tonnes a year, valued at $200m. The Minerals Council of Australia thinks that could result in a net gain of 4,200 uranium mining jobs.

India currently gets about 50% of its energy from coal, which the report noted is the lesser option when compared with nuclear power. Presently, only 2% of India’s energy is generated by nuclear power.

The committee acknowledges that keeping India isolated due to its status as a non-signatory of the NPT has not resulted in the country ditching its nuclear arsenal. The bilateral treaty, it argued, would give Australia leverage to make changes and strengthen safeguards.

The Greens, in additional comments to the committee’s report, said the agreement was putting “short-term political expedience above global security”.

“As such, the Australian Greens cannot support this agreement and urge others to do likewise,” the comments said.


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