Saturday, January 22, 2022

This ship's cargo will make world history when it leaves an Australian port next week - and there are high hopes it'll be a great leap forward in the fight against climate change

This is a heap of nonsense. Hydrogen itself is a non polluting fuel but producing is needs LOTS of energy and emits lots of CO2. We read:

"Hydrogen produced in this way is not a zero-emission fuel. Carbon dioxide is emitted through the combustion and thermal decomposition reactions, and is also a product of the reaction between carbon monoxide and water to make hydrogen and carbon dioxide."

The Suiso Frontier, will depart the Port of Hastings in Victoria next week en-route to Japan with the world's first ever cargo of liquified hydrogen from the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project in the La Trobe Valley.

Under the HESC project Victorian brown coal will be converted to hydrogen using a gasification process before it is loaded onto the Suiso Frontier for exporting.

The $500million project is being led by a mix of Japanese and Australian companies including Japan’s energy giant J-Power, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Shell and AGL.

The ship will undergo a two-week journey to Kobe, loaded with Australian-made hydrogen, in a world-first shipment of liquid hydrogen to hit an international market.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the initiative as a 'world-first that would make Australia a global leader' in the hydrogen industry.

'A successful Australian hydrogen industry means lower emissions, greater energy production and more local jobs,' Mr Morrison said in a statement on Friday.

'The HESC project puts Australia at the forefront of the global energy transition to lower emissions through clean hydrogen, which is a fuel of the future.'

The project has received $100 million from both the Victorian and federal governments. An additional $7.5m in funding was also announced to support the $184m next stage of the project which aims to make 225,000t of carbon-neutral hydrogen each year. Another $20m has also been pledged for the next phase of the CarbonNet project.

This would reduce global emissions by 1.8m tonnes a year, according to the Morrison government.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Suiso Frontier's arrival was a huge milestone in Australia's commitment to reducing emissions.

'The HESC project has the potential to become a major source of clean energy which will help Australia and Japan both reach our goals of net zero emissions by 2050,' he said.

However, the initiative has been criticised for using a coal-based process when cleaner and renewable methods can be used to produce hydrogen.

Under the current process only three tonnes of hydrogen can be produced per year from 160tonnes of brown coal.


Bureau of Meteorology ‘cools the past, warms present’

They're just a mob of shonks, to put it in broad Australian

The Bureau of Meteorology has remodelled Australia’s official temperature record for the third time in nine years and found things to be warmer than thermometer readings had measured.

The latest revisions to records at 25 Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) weather stations has resulted in a slightly greater ­increase in both average maximum and minimum temperatures.

The bureau did not announce the changes but details of them were published on the bureau’s website.

A bureau spokesman said ACORN-SAT was the dataset used to monitor long-term temperature trends in Australia. “Each year, the Bureau of Meteorology updates the dataset to include the most recent data from that year,” the spokesman said.

The last update, ACORN-SAT version 2.2, was made publicly available online in December. Independent analysis of the latest changes show they added 0.06C to maximum warming and 0.11C to minimum warming from 1910-19 to 2010-19.

A series of updates to the ACORN data have added 0.228C mean temperature warming if comparing 1910-19 with 2010-17 (2017 being the final year of ACORN 1).

Researcher and journalist, Chris Gillham, said the impact of adjustments to ACORN versions 1, 2, 2.1 and 2.2 was to cool the past and warm the present. He said the latest changes were “not overall large changes, but changes nevertheless”.

The bureau declined to comment on independent analysis of data it had published. But in an addition to its ACORN website page, it said adjustments had been made to temperature records at 25 sites.

Adelaide and Sydney records were altered due to changes in ­location of recording equipment.

The bureau said changes were made to 20 sites on the basis of statistical analysis. According to the bureau, statistical analysis is used to identify an abrupt warming or cooling at a particular site, relative to other sites in the region.

“A significant change relative to other sites indicates a non-­climatic driver, which sometimes has an easily identifiable cause (e.g. a new building near a site) and sometimes does not (often these will relate to local vegetation or land surface changes)”, the bureau said. “In carrying out this statistical analysis, the bureau uses 10 years’ worth of data from multiple sites to quantify the size of the change. Adjustments are only applied where a significant change has been identified. BoM said the latest adjustments “have not altered the long term warming trend in Australia”.

Adjustments are applied to all data prior to the date of the change.

Scientist Jennifer Marohasy, an outspoken critic of the bureau’s homogenisation process, said: “I have shown repeatedly, ­including in peer-reviewed publications, that without scientific justification historical temperatures are dropped down, cooling the past. This has the effect of making the present appear hotter – it is a way of generating more global warming for the same weather.”

Dr Marohasy said the daily maximum and minimum values in the national temperature dataset were different from the actual recorded historical value, often by several degrees, usually cooler.

“The bureau has now remodelled the national temperature ­dataset three times in just nine years,” Dr Marohasy said.

“Most recently in December 2021, but without giving any indication of how this will affect the overall trend as reported each year in the Annual Climate Statement.”

In a media release on January 6, BoM said that in 2021, Australia’s mean temperature was 0.56C above the 1961 to 1990 climate reference period. It was the 19th warmest year since national records began in 1910, but also the coolest year since 2012.

The bureau says its analysis methods for ACORN-SAT have been published in international peer-reviewed journals and subject to external reviews in 2011, 2015 and 2018. “These external reviews expressed overall confidence in the bureau’s practices and found its data and analysis methods to be among the best in the world”, a spokesman said.


‘Desperately waiting’: The Australians who need Novavax for medical reasons

Australians waiting for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons have expressed their relief after the regulator approved it, while hitting back at suggestions they held off due to vaccine hesitancy.

The protein-based vaccine seems to have fewer side effects – although it has not yet been used widely enough to properly compare it with Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.

After the Therapeutic Goods Administration on Thursday approved it for use in adults, the Novavax vaccine is expected to become available next month at GP clinics and state vaccination hubs, pending final approvals.

University of Queensland Associate Professor Paul Griffin, who worked on the early Novavax trials in Australia, said the existing, “safe and effective” vaccines – Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna –“have certainly been appropriate for the vast majority of people in the community.”

But he said a small minority of the population could not receive these vaccines, he said, due either to having one of the few medical conditions that are contraindicated, or because they had received one dose and experienced “a significant reaction”.

“For a lot of those people, I wouldn’t label them as anti-vax and I think that the majority of them have genuinely been waiting for an alternative option,” Associate Professor Griffin said.

Patients who experienced serious adverse reactions to their first dose of an existing vaccine – prompting doctors to advise them to wait for Novavax before receiving another jab – have remained vulnerable to COVID-19 as Omicron swept across the nation.

Canberra author and academic Gemma Carey, who has the rare autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome, had a severe reaction to her first dose of AstraZeneca, which she was given because it was less likely than Pfizer or Moderna to cause problems for someone with her condition.

“Every fine nerve fibre in my body became inflamed,” Professor Carey said. “It was excruciating. I was in acute care for quite a while.”

The academic is still recovering months later and remains in lockdown as Omicron infections surge and is anxious to see Novavax approved as a booster to give her full protection “so life can get a bit more liveable”.

“I haven’t come across a single person who is waiting for Novavax, just because they want it,” Professor Carey said.

“Everyone who I’ve spoken to has had a reaction to the other ones, or they’ve been told from the start that they shouldn’t have them.”

Emma*, a Melbourne woman who was hospitalised with an allergic reaction to her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, said she had been staying largely isolated at home and could not wait to get her second dose, for which she will receive Novavax.

“Many of us have been desperately waiting to get access to these vaccinations,” she said. “We are so, so happy to be able to get another shot after not being able to take what was available, on the advice of medical professionals.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration reports weekly on the rare, but potentially serious adverse events that occur from COVID-19 vaccination.

Its latest report said 101,795 adverse events had been reported by January 16, out of more than 46 million doses administered – a rate of 2.2 reports for every 1000 doses. But the TGA says the majority of those adverse events are not serious.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt on Thursday said his office had been “approached by many unvaccinated Australians indicating that they were seeking access to Novavax, even though the already approved Pfizer vaccine was “appropriate to vaccinate the entire population.”

Emma, who works in health and describes herself as a “pro-vaxxer”, has allergies but was not concerned about side effects when she went for her first jab. She ended up in the emergency room after she developed a severe rash, nausea, swelling and dangerously high blood pressure.

With a family history of anaphylaxis, doctors advised that her second dose was likely to prompt a reaction about three times stronger than the one that put her in hospital, an outcome she feared could mean she would not “make it out on the other side.”

“The specialist at the hospital made it clear that it was an allergic reaction to something in the shot, not the vaccine itself,” she said.

Emma said she did not want to perpetuate anti-vaccination views, but decided to speak out after reading commentary suggesting that hundreds of thousands of Australians believed to be waiting for Novavax were vaccine-hesitant. “I believe in the science,” she said.

“You don’t want one single person getting a seed of doubt about the importance of protecting themselves and their families.”

Associate Professor Griffin, who is the Director of Infectious Diseases at Mater Health Services, said only time would tell whether Novavax was actually safer than Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca.

“At face value, you would say that it looks like Novavax does have fewer adverse events than those other vaccines, but we have to remember those other vaccines have been given in extraordinary numbers now, so the denominator is very large,” Prof Griffin said.

“So, even very rare, adverse events have been reported with those vaccines, and the Novavax vaccine hasn’t been used in those numbers ... It certainly is a very safe and highly effective vaccine. But I think it’s too early to say that it’s safer or better at this stage.”

University of Queensland Associate Professor Tom Aechtner, an expert on attitudes to vaccination, said some Australians were worried about the fact that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and AstraZeneca viral vector vaccine were “the first of their kind approved for human use”, while the protein-based Novavax was “more of a traditional vaccine.”

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said she would not recommend patients delay getting vaccinated until Novavax is available, but that once approved it would be “particularly beneficial for those who have contraindications to other COVID-19 vaccines, including serious reactions to previous doses.”

“At the end of the day, the most important thing is that people get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Dr Price said.


Overzealous media gag a flawed quirk of NSW law

If William Tyrrell’s abductor was arrested and charged today, the Herald would not be able to report that fact.

It could tell its readers only that a person had been charged with the abduction and murder of a three-year-old boy. It might get away with saying the crime is alleged to have taken place in 2014. At a stretch, it could say the boy was abducted from a house in Kendall. But it would not be able to publish William Tyrrell’s name or include any details that might enable its readers to identify him.

No mention of the Spider-Man suit, the foster grandmother’s house or any details of the successive police investigations of his disappearance over the last seven years. And no photos. This is because, under a bizarre NSW law, it is an offence to name or identify young victims in child homicide cases.

The fact that Herald readers would be well familiar with the harrowing details of William’s disappearance from the scores of stories about it published since September 2014 is neither here nor there. Once criminal charges are laid, the shutters come down.

Flout that prohibition and the publishing company could be up for a $55,000 fine and the journalists involved for a $5,500 fine each or two years’ porridge or both.

This law, well intentioned but overzealous, is unique to NSW. There is nothing else like it in any other state or territory in Australia. In fact, publishers in other states could name William with impunity in any report of the charging of his abductor and run photos of him, as long as their publications did not enter NSW.

This prohibition, contained in s15E of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act, was in the spotlight again this week in the Charlise Mutten tragedy. The Herald published many stories about the nine-year-old’s disappearance from Friday of last week which named her and included her photo, up until police laid criminal charges over her killing on Tuesday. Once those charges were laid, suddenly she could no longer be named nor her photograph published because she was the victim in an alleged child homicide case.

This unique prohibition on naming young victims in child homicide cases has not always been the law in NSW. What has been the law for a long time is a prohibition on naming living children involved in any criminal proceedings, whether as the accused, the victim or witnesses. There has never been a dispute about that prohibition and the Herald and other media generally take pains to comply with it.

What was never clear was whether this prohibition also applied to dead children, such as the victims in child homicide cases. The Herald and other media always took the view that because the act was ambiguous on this point they could be named.

Then in 2002, a 14-year-old boy confessed to murdering a three-year-old girl on the Central Coast. At the trial, the judge suppressed the name of the murdered girl. The Herald commenced proceedings to challenge that suppression order. Before the challenge came to a hearing, the Herald was sent an affidavit of a member of the murdered girl’s family pointing out the trauma the girl’s siblings had been subjected to following the murder. As a result, the Herald decided to discontinue its challenge and live with the doubtful suppression order.




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