"The International Climate Change Taskforce, endorsed by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and whose members include the Premier, Bob Carr, says the risks of "abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change" will lift sharply if average global surface temperatures rise by more than two degrees. On current projections, the world could confront this danger point within a decade." Jan 25th, 2005

"But Senator Campbell (left - Minister for Environment and Heritage & Manager of Government Business in the Senate) said Australia was already working on reducing greenhouse gases. He also said the report's call for a 25 per cent move to renewable sources of energy within 20 years was technologically and economically undeliverable. "It's fine to have it as a aspirational sort of statement but it's probably not deliverable unless you have a major breakthrough in storage technology and that's why the government's spending some $100 million as part of a $1.8 billion package to look for these technological breakthroughs," he told ABC radio.  Jan 25th, 2005

They've already RETAILED 40,000 fans that run on permanent magnet motors in Japan!

The insane Freemasons who are ruining the planet must be removed from power before we all go down the toilet with them.


February 2007


(Inventor) JIM ARIAN: "They don't say, 'We don't have a standard for electric car or hybrid fuel cell electric car'. They say, 'We have our own standard.' And their own standard is for fuel car, it is not for electric or for electric fuel cell car."

Or: http://www.engineair.com.au/airmotor.htm !


The below is a selection of what the corrupt mainstream media is feeding us these days.

And it all could be solved in very short order if ONLY people could wake up to REALITY.



Update on the patented Motionless Electromagnetic Generator

Sydney Morning Herald Opinion

Electricity crisis will come as a shock for the powers that be

December 7th 2004

Time, cost and politics are turning up the heat on the NSW Government, writes Keith Orchison.

The Carr Government is confronted by two four-letter words as it works on the energy green paper promised for delivery this month or next. They are "time" and "cost".

Of the two, time is its bigger challenge. None of the power supply problems emerging can be claimed to be new - the Government produced a report in 2001 that set out the electricity generation challenge - and none of them can be resolved quickly, given the state's planning approval processes and the time needed to construct plant.

Meanwhile, electricity demand in NSW rises each year by about 2 per cent, with peak period spikes rising faster still.

Much is being made of the use of domestic air-conditioning and this represents a large and worsening issue - but it is not the only problem.

Commercial and industrial consumption is by far the largest factor in NSW electricity use - as it is elsewhere in Australia - and failure to meet this need efficiently will cause the greatest pain in terms of economic effects (and the fallout for employment).

In 1999, NSW power consumption was just short of 60,000 gigawatt hours a year, with business use accounting for 70 per cent of this demand. Today, annual demand is about 67,000gigawatt hours, with the rise in business use accounting for almost 70 per cent of the higher consumption. By 2012, overall demand is expected to lie between 80,000 and 86,000 gigawatt hours, with commerce and industry still accounting for 70 per cent.

What this means, to quote the Government's 2001 report, is that between 1500 and 3000 megawatts of generation capacity should be built this decade.

An added problem is that NSW now relies on electricity generated in Queensland for more than 10 per cent of its needs - and not only is Queensland consumption growing at nearly double the NSW rate but the high-voltage interconnector between the two state power systems is close to capacity and sorely in need of augmentation.

Building 3000 megawatts of new generation plant and doubling the size of the interconnector will cost $5 billion to $6 billion, to which can be added the need to spend about the same amount on NSW distribution networks over the next decade - raising the other four-letter word: "cost".

The likelihood of private investors risking about $1.5 billion to build a modern coal-fired plant in NSW, given the greenhouse gas politics of the state, is not high. Where, given other demands on it for infrastructure development, will the State Government find the money?

The levies being mooted to compel lower use of air-conditioning at peak times will do nothing to address these issues; peak power is a different problem.

One of NSW's advantages for many years lay in being a winter-peaking state where the other areas that make up the eastern seaboard electricity market (South Australia, Victoria and Queensland) were summer-peaking. In winter, NSW had been able to source its top peak needs from over its borders. Now, due to the higher levels of air-conditioning load (caused mainly by the move of the demographic centre of Sydney westwards to hotter suburbs) and higher average summer temperatures, NSW has become summer-peaking, too.

There is an added wrinkle to this situation. Winters in Sydney for the past seven or so years have been mild compared with the long-term trend. When more characteristic weather of cold southerly winds and rain re-emerges, household investment in reverse-cycle air-conditioning will lead to new winter peak demands, too.

There are no simple answers to any of these issues, including demand for air-conditioning.

A strong focus on public education about energy use, the introduction of "smart meters" to provide greater information for consumers (with big questions to be answered about the costs and who pays for it) and recourse to "time-of-use" tariffs are some of the policy directions that are probably inevitable for residential and small business customers, but this landscape is full of traps for populist government.

Not the least of these traps is the impact of higher prices for power on families with small children living in the hot western suburbs - neither a levy nor "time-of-use" tariffs will stop them from using air-conditioning, so this pressure on the supply system won't ease and the Government will have a large number of voters in March 2007 with another reason for being cranky at the polls.

Electricity is a very political commodity, but nothing is more political than the lack of a reliable, acceptable-cost supply - and time is against the Government in sustaining this situation to the end of the decade.

Keith Orchison is a consultant. He was managing director of the Electricity Supply Association of Australia from 1991 to 2003.



Sydney Morning Herald Editorial

The high cost of chilled air

 December 7th, 2004


Getting the infrastructure right is not easy, as the Carr Government is finding out, with a host of problems from transport to power needing attention. Last week, the first taste of summer caused havoc in the power industry, resulting in "load shedding" for the first time in 20 years. Demand ran ahead of supply, with as many as 70,000 electricity users losing power for up to two hours.

The rising popularity of air-conditioning is lifting summer electricity demand, forcing plans for new power stations to be brought forward. The Carr Government wants private investors to step in and fill the gap, although their interest is muted, in part because electricity prices are too low.

Along with increasing electricity output, the Carr Government plans a fund to implement a series of conservation measures including curtailing electricity use across industry and commerce by tapping a new round of energy efficiencies. This effort will seek to mirror what was achieved during the 1970s, the last time the power system was under pressure, when off-peak hot water systems were promoted, with considerable success. Incentives to spread demand more evenly are likely to be extended to other heavy household electricity users such as swimming pool pumps, which can also be used at night.

Yet conservation measures, while important, will not by themselves allow the state to avoid the need for new power stations. The large increase in the use of air-conditioners in the home, the office and large retail and commercial centres means that billions of dollars are being spent on power equipment to be used for just a few hours a year to meet the mid-summer peak - a cost that is borne by all, and not just those luxuriating indoors in the cool air.

Power prices in Australia are low, so that the incentive for conservation may not be so great. Cheap electricity is an important asset, although the State Government seems too sensitive, politically, to the prospect of further rises in power prices even though raising charges a little to force people to switch off could help reduce spending on new power equipment.

The home and office is far more dependent on electricity now than in the past, and very reliant on the quality of the supply. With more people working from home, for example, power supply interruptions, surges, voltage problems and the like are an increasing inconvenience.

Against this backdrop, the electricity industry has moved from being run by engineers with little thought given to financial analysis of their spending plans, to an industry run with perhaps too keen an eye on financial returns, at the cost of the quality of the service. The Carr Government now pulls more than $500 million a year in dividends and the like from the state-owned power companies, a handy boost to income levels, but at such a high level to raise natural concerns that it may be focusing a little too closely on financial returns over and above the quality of service.


Below are a collection of Sydney Morning Herald interconnected news items from late 2004.

And one from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

and an update from the USA, where the same (needless) problems exist.

Inventor taps into a new energy source

Date: September 27 2004

By Philip Cornford

A self-taught inventor has signed a contract with Country Energy, one of the country's biggest power grids, to test a new source of clean and renewable electricity that will harness ocean currents and has the potential to drastically reduce electricity costs on islands.

Mick Perry, 42, a former auto-electrician and tuna fisherman, is the driving force behind the $3 million underwater generator, the Aquanator, which will be moored in the mouth of the Clarence River at Maclean in northern NSW.

Currents of about 2.5 knots will rotate aquafoils on the generator, which is 57 metres across and nine metres high, producing one megawatt of electricity - enough to power 660 households daily.

A two-year contract begins next year, but the production company, Atlantis Energy, is already in exploratory talks with island communities, including Lord Howe, which depend on diesel-powered or wind generators.

Electricity from ocean current generators costs more than power from coal-fired grids and about the same as wind-powered energy. However, the cost is about one-sixth that of diesel-powered systems.

Ocean and river currents are more dependable than the wind or solar power and can guarantee supply. Moored underwater, the Aquanator is out of sight and silent.

"We hope to have up to 25 units in production in the next five years," said Mr Perry, Atlantis's chairman and managing director, who got the idea of harnessing the strong southward-flowing East Australian Current - featured in the hit movie Finding Nemo - from the mouth of the Clarence River while working on a tuna boat 25 years ago.

Mr Perry's first job as an auto-electrician led to his first successful invention in 1998, a device known as the Permo-Drive, which can cut fuel consumption by up to 40 per cent by capturing and storing energy normally wasted in the hydraulic braking systems of heavy trucks.

The system is manufactured under licence in the United States, has been adopted by the US Army for its huge fleet of heavy trucks, and is at present being tested by the US Postal Service.

With a family of six children and described as a "knockabout bloke" by associates, Mr Perry had to sell his household furniture to finance research on the Permo-Drive, eventually attracting 1000 investors to form a $5 million public company.

He raised $1.1 million to develop a prototype Aquanator with a new type of aquafoil designed in consultation with Monash University experts on turbulence. It measures nine metres in diameter, half the size of other aquafoils, allowing the Aquanator to be moored in shallow waters where currents are often stronger.

A prototype of the Aquanator will be on display in Martin Place today.

Nuclear waste to be sent offshore

Date: September 29 2004

By Stephanie Peatling and Jacqueline Maley


A national nuclear waste dump will not be built in mainland NSW, after the Federal Government revealed its preference was to store the discarded material offshore.

The Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, said there were "hundreds of Australian islands" and none could be ruled in or out before their suitability had been examined.

"Our preferred option is a facility offshore, not on the mainland, and certainly there's no way that any site in NSW is under consideration," Senator Campbell said.

The Herald published a list yesterday of 22 possible waste dump sites identified by a Federal Government advisory committee. Nine were in NSW, but the Government says the list is obsolete.

The Labor Party, Greens and environmental groups called on the Federal Government to reveal all locations being considered for a permanent nuclear waste storage facility. The NSW Environment Minister, Bob Debus, said the issue needed "honest and open discussion with affected communities".

"If a list of potential sites is obsolete, then what are the Federal Government's new plans for the transport and storage of nuclear waste?" Mr Debus asked.

State governments are responsible for managing nuclear waste produced by their own facilities, such as hospitals and universities. This is classified as low-level waste and is stored onsite.

But most low- or intermediate- level nuclear waste is produced by Commonwealth facilities, such as the Lucas Heights reactor.

The Federal Government is responsible for finding a site suitable for permanent storage. It was forced to restart the search earlier this year after a sustained campaign by the South Australian Government and local groups forced a retreat on plans to put the dump near Woomera.

Co-operation from state governments will be needed to arrange transportation and management of the waste, no matter where the permanent site is.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, which operates the Lucas Heights reactor, is storing the waste until a permanent site is found.

Steve McIntosh, ANSTO's acting director of government affairs, said the organisation would like the issue "sorted out as quickly and as reasonably as possible".

This was "primarily for reasons related to general radiation protection of the community in relation to hazards from non-ANSTO wastes rather than our ability to look after our wastes," Mr McIntosh said.

Both low- and intermediate- level waste could be safely stored in above-ground containers but needed to be constantly monitored for safety and security.

But storing the waste offshore would "raise issues around suitable facilities to move the waste and who would monitor it", Mr McIntosh said.

An Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner, Dave Sweeney, said a licence for the new Lucas Heights reactor should not be approved until a waste storage site and a transport plan had been developed.

Two of the nine NSW sites on the list compiled by the National Store Advisory Committee last year are in the Hunter Valley.

The president of the Singleton Chamber of Commerce, Simon Rock, said the region's multimillion dollar wine industry made it an inappropriate location.

"There's no way the Government would ever consider putting low-level waste so close to a major population area and with the wine-growing area here," he said.

The Mayor of Muswellbrook, John Colvin, said: "The community would not accept it under any circumstances and we'd fight it with every means at our disposal."


Scientist finds huge jump in global warming gas

Date: October 12 2004


A US scientist has noted a surprising jump in the amount of carbon dioxide, the gas that causes global warming, on the eve of a Greenpeace conference in London.

According to figures published in The Guardian and The Independent, it was the first time that the quantity of carbon dioxide - the main greenhouse gas - in the atmosphere had risen by more than two parts per million over two consecutive years.

Between 2001 and 2002 the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide rose from 371.02 to 373.10, an increase of 2.08 over the year. Then it rose again in 2003 to 375.64, an annual increase of 2.54.

The data was recorded at the summit of Mauna Loa mountain in Hawaii by US scientist Charles Keeling, who has been collecting the data since 1958.

Keeling said that up to then rises of over two parts per million had been recorded in only four years - 1973, 1988, 1994 and 1998 - and each time it was a year marked by the climatic phenomenon known as El Nino.

"The rise in the annual rate to above two parts per million for two consecutive years is a real phenomenon," he was quoted as saying.

The most disturbing thing for the 74-year-old scientist was that neither of those two years had been marked by El Nino and there was no data to explain the increase.

He said one explanation for the rise "could be a weakening of the earth's carbon 'sinks' [oceans and forests], associated with the world warming, as part of a climate change feedback mechanism".

The Guardian said the figures would be discussed today at the Greenpeace conference to be attended by Prime Minister Tony Blair's scientific adviser, David King.


Carr's saltwater solution attacked

Date: October 18 2004

By Anne Davies, State Political Editor


Environmentalists have warned that desalination is not a viable long-term solution to Sydney's water needs after the Premier, Bob Carr, reversed his longstanding opposition to the energy-intensive technology and ordered detailed planning for a plant.

Desalination was an expensive option and had the highest energy and greenhouse intensity, Professor Stuart White, from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, said.

"It should only be implemented as a last resort, after the efficiency of water use in Sydney was at world's best practice and we had exhausted all cheaper reuse and stormwater options. We are a long way from that point," he said.

The Total Environment Centre director, Jeff Angel, said: "While I can understand the Government wants to develop contingency measures, this does not attack the rot in the urban water cycle.

"It would be a grave mistake to think of desalination as an easy solution when the real problem is the level of consumption of water and Sydney Water's continued resistance to significant recycling."

The Government has allocated $4 million for a study of the technologies for turning seawater into fresh water.

"This detailed planning and design means that if the drought continues beyond another two years a desalination plant for Sydney could be constructed quickly and efficiently," Mr Carr said yesterday.

"Desalination must be considered a part of any plan to secure Sydney's water supply future - and it will be."

The Government's complete 25-year water plan for Sydney is expected to be announced later this week, during Water Week.

The Utilities Minister, Frank Sartor, said a desalination plant could be built in two years, once the planning was done.

No site has been identified for the plant - that will be part of the study - although they are usually located within two kilometres of the coast.

Mr Carr had long been a big critic of desalination because of its environmental impacts.

"I said earlier that it was too expensive and too rich in greenhouse emissions," he said. "The point about desalination is that it's becoming more affordable and it's becoming a greener option."

Mr Carr said the Government would look at ways of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions through using renewable energy and planting trees.

A plant the same size as that now planned for Perth, which will produce 45 gigalitres a year of water (equivalent to 45,000 Olympic swimming pools), would produce 180,000 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions a year.

To offset that amount of carbon would require an additional 7200 hectares of softwood forest, which is about half the area of Royal National Park, Professor White said.

The Opposition spokesman on utilities, Brad Hazzard, said the Government must look at a four- pronged approach, as Singapore had done, with desalination being one option only, to complement re-use, stormwater-harvesting and demand management.

He said there seemed to be urgency everywhere about Sydney's water needs, except in the Premier's office.

Private power plants to head off blackouts

Date: October 25 2004

By Gerard Noonan


Two privately built power stations are being planned by the NSW Government to help prevent the extensive blackouts suffered by other states, but they could come at a cost to Premier Bob Carr's ambitious greenhouse targets.

Controversially, one of the stations would be coal-fired, in the face of Mr Carr's stated drive for cleaner energy, but the Government fears NSW could face power shortages within six years.

The Government hopes to tap into billions of dollars from private investors to build the power plants, and this would put pressure on its current tight price controls on electricity.

Consumer prices are effectively fixed until at least 2007 when the current pricing agreement ends. But the Treasurer, Michael Egan, is understood to have flagged to the industry a loosening of the pricing controls beyond that date.

Some observers fear this would lead to higher electricity prices for consumers, but the Government argues prices are more likely to fall because of the increased supply from the new stations.

The Government is looking to build a gas-fired, peak-load power station - turned on only at times of high energy demand - within four years. The coal-fired, base load station, which would run continuously, would open by 2012 or 2013. Private companies are interested in supplying higher-priced peak demand electricity, typically via gas-fired generators which can cut in rapidly and deal with power surges.

The NSW Premier's Department, the Department of Energy and Treasury officials are putting the finishing touches to a document to be released next month for community discussion.

It will be followed by a white paper early next year, outlining the Government's preferred position. This will include where the stations would be built, how to fund them and what to do about greenhouse gas emissions.

Both power stations would be around 500-megawatt capacity. At present, government-owned and private power stations produce about 12,500 megawatts to supply the state. But with population and industry growth in NSW, demand is likely to outstrip supply by early next decade. Government officials and many in industry circles fear the power shortages experienced in other states will hit NSW before the end of the decade, despite current excess electricity generation in NSW.

In February this year, heavy air- conditioner use during a heat wave caused blackouts in Perth and parts of Melbourne. Brisbane and the south-east corner of Queensland have faced a series of "brownouts" - controlled cuts to power to ensure continued supply - during summer months as ageing infrastructure struggles to cope with peak demand.

US-based NP Energy was forced to shelve its plans last month for the Redbank 2 coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley after objections that it would be a major polluter.

A senior government official told the Herald the discussion paper would examine ways of upgrading current generators to provide an extra 400 to 800 megawatts capacity, and identify more energy efficiency by consumers, but the extra 500 megawatts was still needed.

Treasury is making clear there will be no more Government money for building power plants.

Climate activists slam coal power bid

Date: October 26 2004

By Gerard Noonan


Environmental and consumer groups have attacked the NSW Government's plan to promote private sector investment in a new coal-fired power station over the next decade.

Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Climate Action Network and the Total Environment Centre said yesterday that the Government must give priority to clean energy alternatives and improving efficiency in existing power plants.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre said the plan would lock in higher electricity prices.

One power industry entrepreneur said it was almost too late to stave off power shortages, and rapid development of new power-generation capacity was needed.

The chairman of the private electricity group ERM, Trevor St Baker, was responding to a report in the Herald yesterday about the Government planning to build a 500-megawatt gas-fired station by 2008 and a 500-megawatt coal-fired station by early next decade.

Both would be built and operated by the private sector.

"It takes at least 18 months to bring on stream the simplest gas-fired power station," Mr St Baker said. "We're perilously close to not having enough power to keep the lights on already ... the prices for peak use are already showing it."

Mr St Baker said the industry was predicting a very difficult summer for 2005-06, with the possibility of blackouts in Victoria.

ERM is in partnership with the investment bank Babcock & Brown and is developing gas-fired power plants at Wagga Wagga and in Queensland.

The Wagga Wagga generator was to be commissioned by the middle of next year but has met delays, including a government commission of inquiry.

Jane Castle of the Total Environment Centre said the Government's own analysis in 2002 found energy efficiency and better management of demand could deliver 1070 megawatts of reductions. (NSW has a current capacity of 12,500 megawatts). The analysis said existing power stations and coalmines could deliver a further 450 megawatts.

"The new power stations will push up electricity prices because greenhouse emissions are now at a premium," Ms Castles said.

The joint statement by the environmental groups said a new plant would emit 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year - as much as 2.5million extra cars on NSW roads.

"Earlier this year, Premier Carr announced new building standards and a Greenhouse Office designed to cut emissions from being pumped into the atmosphere," the groups said.

Arctic seen as warming hot spot

Date: November 1 2004

By Juliet Eilperin and Rick Weis in Washington


There is an unprecedented increase in temperature, glacial melting and weather pattern changes in Earth's upper latitudes, mostly attributable to human generated greenhouse gases from such as cars and power plants, an international assessment of Arctic climate change has found.

The 144-page report is the work of a coalition of eight nations that have Arctic territories - including the United States, which has hosted and financed the coalition's secretariat at the University of Alaska.

It is the result of four years of study by about 300 scientists, and confirms earlier evidence that the Arctic is warming far more quickly than the Earth overall, with temperature increases in some northern regions exceeding by tenfold the average .56 degrees increase experienced on Earth in the past 100 years.

"For the past 30 years, there's been a dramatic increase in temperature and a decrease in the thickness of ice," said Robert Corell, a senior fellow with the American Meteorological Society and chairman of the Arctic climate impact assessment group, which produced the report.

Those changes are already having practical impacts, including a reduction in the number of days each year that the tundra is hard enough to be driven on or drilled safely for oil. They are likely to have an even greater impact in the near future in terms of agriculture, wildlife ranges for terrestrial and marine plants and animals, and global shoreline flooding because of increases in sea level caused by melting ice.

Warming could benefit certain sectors, the report said, by easing marine shipping and improving access to offshore oil and gas resources in the Arctic.

The report is due to be released on November 9, but its summary findings were leaked to the US media at the weekend.

Several of the Europeans involved said this was because the Bush Administration had delayed publication until after the presidential election, due to the political contentiousness of global warming.

The report is likely to increase pressure on the Bush Administration, which has acknowledged a possible human role in global warming but says the science is still too murky to justify mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

But Gunnar Palsson of Iceland, chairman of the Arctic Council, the international body that commissioned the study, said there was "no truth to the contention that any of the member states of the Arctic Council pushed the release of the report back into November". In addition to the US, the members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Mr Palsson said all the countries agreed to delay the release, originally scheduled for September, because of conflicts with another international meeting in Iceland.

He said the report was "going to generate a great deal of attention throughout the world".

"Climate change is not something that's going to happen - it is happening all over the Arctic," Mr Palsson said. "The Arctic is sort of a bellwether" for the rest of Earth.

The report's authors believe Arctic temperatures will rise several degrees in the coming decades, according to a summary prepared by Gunn-Britt Retter, a technical adviser with the council's Indigenous People's Secretariat. Winters are expected to become warmer, and wet periods in the Arctic will become longer, more frequent or both.

It is not entirely clear why the Arctic is warming much more quickly than other areas.

One factor is probably that once icepacks melt and their reflective power is lost, temperature increases accelerate.

The Washington Post, The New York Times


Saving the environment too important to be left to governments

Date: November 8 2004

Business must make peace with conservation, writes Martin Copley.


As we explore various models for a new federalism - whether it be for health, education, or water reform - it is important to understand how the old federalism has failed the environment.

Our wild world is disappearing in numerous ways: loss of species, habitat destruction, declining water and air quality, and increasingly saline and shallow topsoils.

More importantly, there is an uneasy sense that the world we knew as youngsters (I'm 64 years old) is not the same gift of wonder and opportunity we will be passing on to our grandchildren. That is a haunting feeling, and one that our political and economic systems are failing to address.

Part of the problem is a misguided administrative benevolence. For too long, politicians and bureaucrats have tried to kid themselves and the people that conservation is the natural (but far from core) business of government. The argument seemed compelling enough: "We've got the money, we own the land, we've created the conservation and land management agencies staffed with the best experts - trust us, there is no other way."

In almost four decades, that model has delivered undeniable successes. But while it may not have failed, it hasn't solved the problem either. This tells me it's not the way of the future.

I'll give an example from my home state of Western Australia. In 2001, the new Labor Government promised to end logging in almost 99 per cent of old-growth forest in the south-west of the state. Thirty national parks and two conservation parks were to be created.

But the resolution of years of dispute and negotiation did nothing for the vast majority of endangered species, including the Gouldian finch. This little bird - once widespread across northern Australia - could be the symbol of a continent in danger. Most Australians will never get to see the Gouldian finch, except perhaps in a cage. It's estimated there are only hundreds remaining in the wild.

That is an indictment of the way we undertake conservation. How has this happened? There are two major causes. First, we have disenfranchised people. Communities don't feel a sense of conservation "ownership"; we have national parks and other "protected areas" on one side of the fence, and private land on the other. We try to do "conservation business" on one side and the rest of our business on the other.

It's the real great divide in our nation that we are yet to understand. We have even created a different set of rules - and underlying values - for both. And too many indicators tell us that life is becoming less rich, diverse and "liveable" - on both sides of the fence.

The second problem is the endless "war" between business and conservation, with the requisite winners and losers. For too long, the loser has been the environment.

But what if business and conservation were natural allies; what if the rules of business apply to and could help the environment (and perhaps vice versa)?

In 1991 I set up an organisation that became the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, now the largest private conservation land manager in Australia, with 13 sanctuaries. It succeeded because of the involvement of philanthropists, private donors, scientists, ordinary people and governments.

Just over 10 per cent of Australia has been set aside in government conservation reserves. Within the next 10 years, I want to see 30 per cent of the country protected through programs run by a new breed of conservationists, liberated from bureaucracy and shrinking government budgets.

The only way this can be done is in partnership with successful business people who have started to worry about our common wealth - our natural heritage. That's the great divide we must cross.

Martin Copley is the chairman of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. This article is adapted from a talk to be aired on ABC Radio National's Songlines Conversations series.

Vanishing krill threatens Antarctic life

Date: November 8 2004

By Andrew Darby


Rapid climate warming is emptying the breadbasket of Antarctica, putting whales, seals and seabirds at risk of food shortages.

The science journal Nature has reported an 80 per cent decline in krill - the shrimp-like staple of the polar diet - in the Southern Ocean's most productive waters, off the Antarctic Peninsula.

A senior Australian krill scientist, Steve Nicol, said: "It's definitely a warning bell that there are serious changes going on out there."

A team led by Angus Atkinson of the British Antarctic Survey pooled data collected by nine countries between 1926 and last year to take the first large-scale view of change in krill numbers around the frozen continent.

Almost 45 per cent of world stocks of the prolific Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is found in the south-west Atlantic.

The Antarctic Peninsula and nearby waters have seen spectacular change because of rapid climate warming.

Over the past 50 years, air temperatures in the peninsula have risen more than 2.5 degrees - five times faster than the global average. The rapid break-off of giant ice shelves such as Larsen B in 2002 has also been accompanied by what the survey described as a striking decrease in floating sea ice.

"Krill feed on the algae found under the surface of the sea ice, which acts as a kind of nursery," Dr Atkinson said. "We don't fully understand how the loss of sea ice here is connected to the warming, but we believe that it could be behind the decline in krill."

The letter to Nature said krill stocks had declined by about 80 per cent since the 1970s. It may also explain declines in several species of penguins in the region, the survey team said. Other Antarctic life such as the tiny jellyfish-like salps may have benefited from a tolerance of warmer waters.

Dr Nicol, a program leader at the Australian Antarctic Division, said he was sceptical about the magnitude of the decrease found by the research. "You would not see this without major declines in the higher predators, and it's a very mixed picture for them," he said. "Some predator numbers are actually increasing; for example fur seals, which live almost exclusively on krill."

Dr Nick Gales, a principal research scientist at the division, said many large whales were entirely dependent on krill for food and the evidence showed that some of these species were making strong comebacks from 20th century whaling. "Whales like humpbacks are showing increases in the range of 10 per cent each year," Dr Gales said.

Minke whale numbers, however, were decreasing, he said.

Carr fired up over coal power critics

Date: November 16 2004

By Sean Nicholls and Tim Dick


The Premier yesterday defended the possible construction of a new coal-fired power station in NSW before hosting a meeting of international experts to discuss ways to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment groups gathered outside NSW Government House where Bob Carr addressed the International Climate Change Taskforce. They protested against the state's reliance on coal as a power source and the expansion of the coal industry in NSW.

The Greens MP Ian Cohen said Mr Carr was being hypocritical by hosting the conference. "The Premier is deceiving the people of NSW about his Government's green credentials," he said.

"He will only become part of the problem on climate change, not the cure, unless he takes action to reduce the state's dependence on coal mining and coal-fired power."

The taskforce, of which Mr Carr is a member, is meeting for two days in Sydney to finalise recommendations to governments about how they can deal with global warming beyond the Kyoto protocol, which ends in 2012.

Mr Carr defended the option of a coal-fired power station, saying it was "the responsible thing to do".

"We are going to explore all the alternatives that we have got. That's why we are having a green paper," he said.

The taskforce co-chairman, the British Labour MP Stephen Byers, said the group would draw up recommendations to put to the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who would chair a meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations and the European Union next year. Mr Blair had already identified global warming as a priority that presented a great opportunity, Mr Byers said.

The NSW Government is expected to publish a discussion paper next month that explores ways to meet the state's future energy needs, including the possible construction of a new coal-fired power station.

However, Clive Hamilton, the executive director of the Australia Institute, one of three think tanks sponsoring the work of the taskforce, said there was no need for new coal-fired power stations.

"I think there's a tremendous scope in Australia for the growth of new renewable energy industries, which ought to obviate the need for construction of any new coal-fired power stations," he said.

Mr Carr made public a CSIRO report into climate change yesterday that showed NSW could expect soaring temperatures and a 70 per cent increase in the number of droughts by 2030.

Drought figures for this month, compiled by the Department of Agriculture, showed that 67.2 per cent of NSW was in drought.

This was an 11 per cent improvement on last month, while in September 92.3 per cent of NSW was in drought and no single region was regarded as satisfactory.

The Bureau of Meteorology's NSW climate summary showed that October oscillated between drought-breaking rain, thunderstorms and flooding, to drought-worsening temperatures, winds and sunshine.

The bureau's long-term estimate said the chances of average rainfall in western NSW were 50-50, while chances of above-average rainfall in the east of the state were 30-40 per cent.

Global warming could make large areas of world uninhabitable

Date: November 18 2004


A leading New Zealand scientist warned yesterday that global warming would make large areas of the world uninhabitable by the end of the century unless the international community co-operated to solve the problem.

Professor John Barrett said that, after studying the Antarctic and its climate for 40 years, he was part of a huge community of scientists who are alarmed about climate change and its potential effects on the planet.

"We know from our knowledge of the ancient past that if we continue our present growth path we are facing the end of civilisation as we know it - not in millions of years, or even millennia, but by the end of this century," he said in Christchurch.

He was speaking after being awarded one of New Zealand's highest scientific awards for his Antarctic research.

An advance report of his speech which wrongly had him warning that the entire human race faced extinction by the end of the century attracted widespread attention and he tried to correct it in radio and television interviews.

But he retained his doomsday scenario, telling a Radio New Zealand interviewer who asked if he was predicting that large numbers of people around the world would be wiped out: "I think there is a better than even chance that will be the case if we do nothing about it."

Professor Barrett identified Europe, the American state of Florida and low-lying countries such as Bangladesh as areas most likely to become uninhabitable. New Zealand was in a "rather fortunate" location, he said, and would be less affected than Western Europe.

Asked if this meant New Zealanders could end up being one of the few populations left on the planet by the turn of the century, he replied: "Yes, I'd say that's even likely if we don't do anything."

He said the globe was heading by the end of the century for a climate three or four degrees warmer than now, conditions that last existed 30 to 40 million years ago before there were ice sheets in the Antarctic.

Asked what would actually happen, he said: "I'll tell you what happened in the past. The last change of that magnitude was quite recent - 20,000 years ago ice caps covered large parts of Europe, sea level was 120 metres lower and then temperatures rose five degrees and the ice caps melted, oceans rose. The climate stabilised about 10,000 years ago and it's been pretty stable ever since.

"Now they're talking about temperatures rising three or four degrees and of course there isn't as much ice to melt but the climate will be profoundly different. Civilisation will be very different."

He said one of the reasons for speaking out was in the hope that people would understand more about the issue and press their political leaders for an international commitment to an effective solution.


Nearly 16,000 species threatened with extinction

Date: November 18 2004


Nearly 16,000 of the world's plant and animal species face extinction largely because of the destructive behaviour of mankind, says a major new environmental report .

Over-exploitation, climate change and habitat destruction are to blame for a crisis that has wiped out at least 27 species from the wild over the last two decades, according to the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

The report says more than 7000 animal species are threatened with extinction.

They include 32 per cent of amphibians, 42 per cent of turtles and tortoises, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds.

Among the casualties since last year's report, the IUCN confirms the Hawaiian thrush has gone the way of the dodo with no sighting of the bird for 15 years.

Costa Rica's golden toad has also been listed as extinct largely through climate change, pollution and disease.

More than 8000 plants are listed as threatened with the St Helena olive tree the latest to be declared extinct after the last remaining seedling withered and died in November last year without any seeds kept.

"Every time we lose a species we break a life chain which has evolved over 3.5 billion years," said IUCN chief scientist Jeffrey McNeely.

Less is known about marine species but the report says early signs showed it was equally serious with fishermen overexploiting the seas to the point of extinction for many species.

The humphead wrasse is listed as endangered after its numbers declined by at least 50 per cent over the last 30 years after being heavily fished in South-East Asia for restaurants and the destruction of its coral reef habitat.

"Although 15,589 species are known to be threatened with extinction, this greatly underestimates the true number as only a fraction of known species have been assessed," said Craig Hilton-Taylor, who helped in compiling the report.

Because of the intervention of humans, the current extinction rate is estimated to be up to 1000 times the expected natural one. Since AD1500, 784 extinctions have been recorded, according to the IUCN.

"The current extinction phenomenon is one for which a single species, ours, appears to be almost wholly responsible," it said.

Indonesia, India, Brazil and China are among the countries with the most threatened mammals and birds. Plant species are declining rapidly in South and Central America, Central and West Africa and South-East Asia.

Last year's report said 12,259 species were threatened but officials said the increase in threatened species of more than 3300 was largely down to improved and expanded research work.

The release of the report is the latest in a series of gloomy assessments over the state of the world's plants and animals.

A three-year study published last month said it was feared more than 100 amphibian species had disappeared since 1980 largely because of pollution and global warming. Scientists feared hundreds more would become extinct in coming decades.

Amphibians, with their highly permeable skins, are particularly sensitive to changes to freshwater and air quality and are considered one of nature's best indicators of environmental health.

The IUCN said half of the world's wetlands had been destroyed in the past century and more than a quarter of the world's coral reefs had also been lost.

However, the report said there were bright points with some species recovering after concerted conservation campaigns and others once thought extinct had been rediscovered.

The New Zealand storm petrel was presumed extinct but there were two separate sightings last year and further ones this year.

The European otter has moved out of the threatened categories amid signs of a recovery in western Europe and the former USSR.

The report was released to coincide with the opening of the World Conservation Congress in Bangkok. More than 5000 people including activists and more than 50 environment ministers are expected to attend over nine days.

The congress, bringing together scientists and experts from 181 countries, will debate the escalating extinction crisis and form a conservation blueprint for the next four years.


Help beat locusts by cooking up a swarm

Date: November 19 2004

By Michael Bradley


Moses described four kinds of locust that the Hebrews were permitted to eat, but he never recommended they make locust bellata dumplings or a Coonabarabran stir fry.

It took a NSW plague with the potential to take on biblical proportions to inspire a couple of NSW insect experts to produce Cooking with Sky-Prawns, a mostly toungue-in-cheek response to the worsening crisis.

Edward Joshua, a co-author and acting agricultural protection officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, does not eat the bugs himself, but he is adamant the "home-delivery bushfood" is nutritionally superior to beef. If the idea catches on, people in the state's west will have little trouble finding a meal.

The worst locust plague to hit NSW in 25 years is escalating, with billions of insects reaching adulthood in the past week and taking to the sky.

While infant locusts would normally be eaten by wasps, birds, and worms, in the years of drought there has been a huge depletion in locust predators. Swarms of 50 square kilometres containing up to 500 locusts per square metre are appearing across the state.

By next week female locusts will be laying their first batch of 60 eggs, which will hatch before Christmas. The females - and their offspring - will do this another five times before autumn, with each of these creatures capable of consuming 15 times their own body weight in a day.

Since the start of spring the State Government has distributed enough pesticide to spray more then 540,000 hectares, more than ever before.

Six aircraft have been spraying swarms this week in the Dubbo region alone, with aerial spraying programs throughout the Mudgee, Coonabarabran, Nyngan, Forbes, and Condobolin districts.

With the swarms capable of travelling 500 kilometres in a night and new hatchings expected within weeks, Mr Joshua says it is hard to judge when the plague can be brought under control.

"We're really trying to keep a lid on the situation, and if there are crops on the ground and sheep and cattle to be sold next autumn, then we will have done our job," he said.



A lot of hot air

Date: November 20 2004

While Bob Carr exults in his green credentials, he is reverting from gas buses to diesel, investing in desalination plants, pumping water from the Illawarra to Sydney and mooting a new coal-fired power plant, write Anne Davies and Gerard Noonan.

As Bob Carr mingled with delegates of the International Climate Change Task Force on the lawns of Government House this week, there was a gleam of enthusiasm in his eye not seen so often these days. He had just delivered an apocalyptic vision of the state over which he governs and his plans to tackle it.

"We face these terrible increases in average climate. Parts of our state are already very hot. But if you look at where they're going to be by 2012, then out to 2030, it is really going to be living in an oven," he said. "Global warming has got NSW in its grip as much as any other part of the world."

Then the Premier talked proudly of his plans for a state-based carbon trading scheme he hopes other states will adopt, in a bid to fill the void left by the refusal of the Prime Minister, John Howard, to sign the Kyoto protocol.

Carr's enthusiasm among the climate change faithful was infectious. Scientists, bureaucrats and journalists talked earnestly about the issues that would affect generations, a stimulating break from the mundane matters that usually consume them. Among them wandered Carr, who on days like that must rue he is not prime minister.

There's little doubt Carr is sincere in his concern about global warming. He's commissioned studies from CSIRO; he's working on a state-based carbon credits scheme; every chance he gets he lectures on the coming Armageddon influenced, it seems, from a lifetime's interest in climate change, population density and the views of earlier theorists such as Paul Ehrlich and latterly of campaigners like the scientist Tim Flannery.

But Carr's mantle of the Green Premier is slipping. A month ago the five peak NSW environment groups joined to criticise the Government's environment policies. They called on Carr "to urgently act to prevent his legacy becoming one of rivers pumped dry, ancient woodlands and forests lost, Crown lands flogged off and national parks mismanaged".

The reason is not the grand gestures such as carbon trading schemes, but the nitty-gritty policies which seem to bore the Premier.

The director of the Total Environment Centre, Jeff Angel, who tries to work closely and constructively with the Carr Government, has issued this warning: if Carr wants to avoid being remembered in the latter years of his premiership for the environment destroyed, rather than the environment protected, he needs to move fast.

The groups listed six areas in which they said the Government was failing its environmental responsibilities: depriving NSW rivers of sufficient flows to keep them healthy; selling 3.5 million hectares of crown leasehold; watering down laws to protect threatened species from extinction; failing to manage national parks and wilderness areas.

"The Premier has an opportunity to turn around what has been his worst environmental performance since he came to power in 1995. The public want him to act and our natural heritage depends on it," Angel said.

Two days later, Carr was launching the Clean Air Forum, a three-yearly summit on air quality convened to evaluate how well the Government's policies had scrubbed up the atmosphere. First, the achievements.

Since Carr became Premier, the area declared national park has gone from 4 million hectares to almost 6 million and funding per hectare has doubled. Some 7.5 per cent of the state is now protected.

Carr has worked hard at devising systems, such as the catchment management authorities which are capable of balancing development and the environment. There's been a focus on keeping the coast under control, away from the more voracious developers, and open to the public.

Perhaps a little belatedly, given the sprawl fostered by the housing boom of the 1990s, he has introduced the BASIX (building sustainability index) guidelines which will require new dwellings to cut the average domestic water use by 40 per cent and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2006. And he's promised new areas released and zoned for residential development will be built according to sustainability principles.

But the record is far from perfect, as the green groups spelled out. And since then there have been two more black marks on the Government's report card: a preparedness to look at a large-scale desalination plant as a solution to the water supply crisis, and floating plans to build a coal-fired power plant.

Carr's reversal on desalination was the most surprising. Earlier he had declared such systems to be " bottled electricity" because of their intensive energy use.

Dr Stuart White, of the Sustainable Futures Institute at the University of Technology, Sydney, has estimated that desalination uses approximately 6500 kilowatt hours of energy per megalitre of fresh water produced.

The Metropolitan Water strategy also contained other environmental nasties, including plans to pump water from the Shoalhaven to the Warragamba Dam system, which, while less damaging than a dam on the Shoalhaven, will still affect the ecosystem of the Shoalhaven and surrounding rivers.

Then there was the lack of commitment to restoring environmental flows to the Hawkesbury, which the Government's own Hawkesbury-Nepean Forum says need an additional 120 gigalitres a year to flush out algal blooms, weed growths and pollution.

Carr has said he will consider planting additional forests as a "carbon sink" to counter the emissions from a desalination plant. But the concern of many environmentalists is the whole plan fails to make the shift towards reuse and recycling.

The green movement has also been wary of the Government's moves on preventing broadscale clearing of land. Earlier this month the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Minister, Craig Knowles, released a draft of plans to end widespread clearing of native vegetation by farmers.

On paper, the proposals look dark green. But in the public arm-wrestle between farmers and green groups which followed the draft's release, it was the farmers who were warning against any change to the proposals. The suggestion was that the myriad exemptions in the proposed regulations - including the right to clear up to five hectares around any dam, shed or homestead - would not cause most farmers to lie awake at night wondering how to clear that back paddock.

Carr's next big test is going to come when he has to deal with the inevitable need for more power stations to meet the insatiable appetite of a growing city. He's already countenanced consideration of a new coal-fired power plant to meet base load requirements, with a cleaner gas-fired plant to meet the peak demand.

The Premier's recent treatment of the rail crisis and his evident success in getting a spaghetti of freeways and tollways built - including a tunnel under the entire city - has also raised a few hackles.

The current woes of the rail system are not solely due to the inattention of the Government, but the Premier is nowhere near as enthusiastic about promoting public transport in Sydney as he is about bushwalking in some of the national parks he gazetted.

As a saviour of the natural environment, Carr has good reason to be proud, but tackling the urban environment, and particularly the growth of the nation's largest city, is a far more difficult challenge.

Going troppo

Date: November 20 2004

The long-range weather forecast shows storms on the horizon. Richard Macey looks towards 2030 and sees a sticky future.


Sizzling temperatures, fierce storms, mozzies, tropical diseases and long socks. It sounds like Queensland today, but it may be the NSW of tomorrow.

By as early as 2030 Sydney will face up to six days a year of temperatures above 35 degrees, compared with the current annual average of three, a CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report tipped this week.

Two months ago another report by the two agencies warned that by 2030 parts of NSW would be up to two degrees warmer and 20 per cent drier as global warming bites. And it would get worse. By 2070 temperatures will soar seven degrees, with rainfall declining as much as 40 per cent.

We will have to change the way we live, work, and play. "We have to start now - we should have started yesterday," says Caitlin McGee, a senior researcher with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, who is confident that by 2030 Sydney will build homes designed for near self-sufficiency when it comes to water and power.

"By 2030, hopefully, we will be putting back as much as we take," she says, predicting some neighbourhoods will have their own solar collectors and windmills to generate power. Surplus power will be fed back into the grid. Sewage, drained into neighbourhood treatment plants, will be processed and piped back as grey water for gardens: "Community-scale systems will be the way of the future."

Sydneysiders may have to adopt the recycling of grey water. The Sydney Catchment Authority, which manages the dams, is assuming climate change will reduce available water by 10 billion litres a year, every decade, until 2051.

McGee also predicts rooftop gardens will be common in new developments by 2030, providing insulation and a way to trap rainwater that would otherwise flow into gutters. And homes will rely on natural ventilation, capitalising on breezes and natural shading, stemming the power-guzzling hunger of air-conditioning.

Bruce Armstrong, the head of the school of public health at the University of Sydney, says people will wear fewer clothes because of the hotter weather. The increased exposure to the sun will, in turn, boost squamous cell carcinomas, now often found on necks and the back of hands. But as people discard long-sleeved shirts and long pants for cooler attire, such cancers will spread to arms and legs. As a result, long socks and "Queensland-style broad-rimmed hats" will become the fashion on Sydney's streets.

Fashion designer Rebecca Davies, of Bare, predicted fashion would be more casual. "Lighter fabrics and weather will be dictating style and trends. Everyone will be wearing thongs," she says. "I think we will all become a lot more conscious of fitness and health, because ... our bodies will be on show a lot more."

By 2030 natural disasters will be increasingly in the headlines. A report by the Australian Climate Group, convened last year by the World Wildlife Fund and the Insurance Australia Group, indicated that a rise of 2.2 degrees in temperatures could lead to a 5 to 10 per cent increase in cyclone wind speeds, while as little as a one-degree rise in summer could trigger a 17 to 28 per cent increase in bushfires.

A drier 2030 may be bad news for umbrella manufacturers, but sun screens, deodorants and insecticides will be attractive investments.

"I think we will find ourselves spraying more," says Ary Hoffmann, of the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research at La Trobe University. Mosquitoes and pests such as the Queensland fruit fly "will be more widespread in NSW and Victoria. We will see changes in the distribution of pest species, with ones formerly restricted to the tropics moving down."

Tony McMichael, the director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, says, "We will have to multiply the money we spend on our public health defences."

Thanks to the mosquitoes, dengue fever, now largely restricted to northern Queensland, will shift closer to NSW: "In some parts of world there is already evidence that malaria and tick-borne encephalitis are beginning to spread in the warmer conditions." And, warned the professor, "with warmer and more variable weather the frequency and intensity of summer heatwaves will increase. Heatwaves kill people."

In France last year summer temperatures of about five degrees above normal were blamed for an extra 15,000 deaths in two weeks. "Once you pass a critical temperature, the capacity of people to cope with the heat is exceeded, particularly in the old and the young," says McMichael.

But our need to cool off in 2030 may be good news for drink makers. "It's a fairly logical reaction: when you are hot you drink more," says Joanna Ryan, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Amatil.

But in the summer of 2030 we may not be licking more ice-cream. "In really hot weather people go for cool drinks rather than ice-cream," says Garry West, of Unilever, which owns Streets. "Water ices are more popular than milk-based ones when the temperature gets to 40 or more."

By 2030 climate change will be forcing Australians and international visitors to rethink holiday destinations. According to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, the head of marine studies at the University of Queensland, coral bleaching - the death of coral caused by the warming of the oceans - will be threatening the $2.4 billion-a-year tourism industry that surrounds the Great Barrier Reef.

And the ski fields of 2030 may not be as white, warns Penny Whetton, leader of the climate impact group at the CSIRO's Atmospheric Research.

Modelling suggests areas that now enjoy snow for at least 30 days a year could fall by 14 to 55 per cent as early as 2020. By 2050 the decline could be anywhere from 30 to 90 per cent.

And Whetton says snow may not be all that is harder to find. "Alpine plants and animals that prefer the cold may not exist ... such as the mountain pygmy possum."

Even finding our favourite fruit and wines will be trickier as the number of cold days and frosts decline. "Fruit trees require a cold period. Stone fruit, such as peaches particularly, depend on cool weather in winter. We may not be able to grow the current varieties. As temperatures get higher the quality of grapes declines," says Whetton.

Despite fears that Australia will become drier, forecasting future climate patterns is far from a perfect science. Scientists note that their models also suggests there is a possibility that global warming could boost rain, through increased evaporation and the warmer air's greater ability to hold moisture.

"We might, paradoxically, have more rain," says Whetton. "You will still need umbrellas."

Green energy cheap as chips: lobbyist

December 3, 2004 - 4:14PM

A report by a wind energy group says increasing Australia's supply of renewable energy will cost consumers little extra.

The Australian Wind Energy Association (AusWEA) said it had compared research undertaken by a number of independent consultants, using updated predictions for future electricity demand.

The report estimated the cost to consumers on their average monthly bill would be $1.33 for a five per cent increase in the market share of renewable energy.

A 10 per cent target would cost consumers an extra $2.95 per month on their electricity bills.

AusWEA president Ian Lloyd-Besson said several independent analysts had consistently discovered that switching to cleaner energy sources was more affordable than people currently thought.

"A 10 per cent target would be worth about the same as a bag of hot chips per month for the average household," he said in a statement.

"This is a small sacrifice for energy consumers to make in order to accelerate the growth of the new clean energy era."


Mr Lloyd-Besson warned that failure to act now to entrench renewable energy technologies could ultimately cost Australians more than a few extra dollars on the power bill.

"Not only is Australia the world's worst greenhouse gas polluter per head of the population but our country also faces severe repercussions if we fail to take action on climate change," he said.

© 2004 AAP

School airconditioning debate heats up

The NSW Teachers Federation says the Department of Education does not seem to understand the extent hot weather affects schools with little or no airconditioning.

The union is upset about statements the State Department of Education made in the media in this week's heatwave which advised schools to rotate students around their airconditioned classrooms.

State president Maree O'Halloran says it is a ludicrous situation.

"In some cases the school has no airconditioning at all. In some cases there might be just one classroom airconditioned and 500 students," she said.

"It's just not acceptable.

"Both the federal and state governments need to increase their funding to ensure that our schools are up to the 21st century standard."

Power levy push to beat meltdown

Date: December 6 2004

By Brian Robins and Anne Davies


Consumers face a levy on their electricity bills to help rein in rising consumption - but not in time to prevent waves of blackouts this summer.

NSW faces a season of power cuts because the system cannot cope with the surge in demand driven by air-conditioners on hot days and is plagued by failures in old equipment. Unless work begins on a new power station within the next year or demand is curbed, NSW may run short of electricity in little over two years.

The levy is the brainchild of the new head of the Department of Electricity, Utilities and Sustain-ability, David Nemtzow. It is not known how much it would be but it would finance a fund aimed at finding ways of encouraging big energy users in industry to cut electricity use. A cabinet submission paper on the fund is expected to be released soon.

Last week a mini-heatwave caused a blackout in parts of Wollongong, with many homes and businesses losing power for up to two hours. "The first really hot day of summer, and things were stretched," said Bob Booth, of the energy consultants Bardak Ventures.

The National Electricity Market Management Company warned energy users several times last week that the system was so stretched blackouts were close. Eventually, equipment failure at the Vales Point power station in the Hunter Valley forced load shedding, switching off the supply to some consumers.

The head of Nemmco, Les Hosking, said: "We've had rising demand in NSW because of the sale of air-conditioners for some time now. When it gets very hot in Sydney's west, that demand is at an extreme."

Hot weather caused blackouts in Sydney in October, with old equipment in the power transmission system overheating. A former chief executive of Energy Australia, Paul Broad, said: "I think we kidded ourselves in the mid-'90s in under-investing in our network."

In its last submission to the pricing authority, Energy Australia said 55 of its substations would be at risk of overloading by 2009, compared with 23 now, and asked permission to raise prices in order to update the network.

Mr Broad blamed the industry's woes on the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, which he said was too aware of the political imperative of keeping prices down. "You couldn't find a worse form of regulation if you tried." He said the effect of the tribunal's decisions was under-investment in infrastructure and argued that electricity, like water, had to be more expensive.

Environmentalists believe the solution is smarter use of energy.

"Unless the Government wields the big stick on demand management, they will be pushed into a fossil fuel-powered corner of their own making." said Jane Castle, of the Total Environment Centre.

A new station will take years to build - three years for gas and four to five for coal. "A decision is needed soon on new capacity," Mr Booth said. He predicted reserve levels would be tight by the end of next year, falling to outright shortages from 2007.

Mr Broad is more confident. "The CBD this year is the strongest its been for seven or eight years. The Hunter is falling behind ... We are just getting ahead of ourselves in the Pennant Hills area but we are lagging behind in the south."

The Opposition spokesman on utilities, Brad Hazzard, said: "The industry has been used as a cash cow for the rest of Bob Carr's ailing infrastructure."

And this little piggy is left in the dark

Date: December 6 2004

By Brian Robins


He has faced many challenges to win a host of wine awards over the past 18 months - 15 bronze medals and three silver - but power blackouts have been the worst.

"You could say reliability isn't any good," said John Feaks, who runs the Chislehurst Estate winery, up the Putty Road to Sydney's north-west.

"I've got a business here - a piggery and a vineyard. If you're on the computer and you've got a dropout it is hopeless.

"I've rung a couple of times, but you don't get any satisfaction. You only get a recorded message."

A bushfire two years ago left no power for a week, causing heavy losses.

"If I get a failure I can be out for five, six or seven hours. I can understand if they don't know where it is, but if I've got pigs farrowing I need heat, otherwise you can lose a lot of pigs.

"It's the same with irrigation. During that seven-day outage I couldn't run any irrigation, and I lost a lot of grapes. Every time there's a little bit of wind, you just drop off."

From Dural and Glenorie, to Howes Valley along the Putty Road, complaints over the erratic electricity supply are rife.

During the State election last year Steven Pringle, now the MP for Hawkesbury, was out doorknocking around Rouse Hill.

"I thought Windsor Road would be the No. 1 issue, but it wasn't. It was electricity outages. For one resident there had been 39 power interruptions in 33 months," Mr Pringle said.

"There is a very strong push for people to work from home, but it is impossible without full-time power supplies, so it is forcing people to put in back-up generators.

"There is a large duck farm along the Putty Road which wants to expand, but can't, due to a lack of power."

For Jeff Whyte, a quail farmer at Fiddletown, near Arcadia, in the Dural area, blackouts and low voltage are a fact of life, so a diesel generator is essential.

"It's a backup we have to have. You can't afford a blackout - on a hot day, you're in trouble, and also on a cold day. We've got to have it. It's like insurance."

Peak consumers face higher bills

Date: December 6 2004

By Brian Robins


Instead of building a new power station to meet the boom in demand from NSW consumers, electricity shortages may be tackled by encouraging - or forcing - consumers to cut their electricity demand.

Rising demand at peak times - during the middle of the day in summer and early evening in winter - means that about 10 per cent of the power industry's equipment sits idle almost all year.

EnergyAustralia estimates that $1 billion of its equipment is used just 1 per cent of the time.

"All those peaks mean that equipment sits there all year and only gets used maybe for a few hours a year. That's inefficient," said the general manager, network, of EnergyAustralia, George Maltabarow.

"The more you can flatten that peak, the more capital efficient the system is. That's why we're progressively looking at 'time of use', because that will change people's behaviour."

Electricity retailers such as EnergyAustralia and Integral Energy are introducing time of use systems from next year, with large users, mostly industry, paying closer to the market spot rate. The system may be extended to domestic users later.

Electricity is traded in a national market, with prices at peak times being many times that of the average price. This shift involves installing interval meters - those that show the prevailing price of electricity and the amount being used as appliances are turned on. This system will become mandatory in Victoria for large power users from 2006, and will be fully introduced by 2013, but is not yet mandatory in NSW, even though electricity companies are already installing the meters here.

"Power prices are quite low, and there's the lack of an appropriate tariff structure to give signals at the time of the day when prices are high," said Chris Riedy of the Institute for Sustainable Futures. "Therefore, you need to get interval metering out there."

Only a handful of households have had these meters installed in the past, with little success. The rural electricity supplier Country Energy is to begin a trial of these meters in Jerrabomberra, outside Queanbeyan.

Environmentalists accuse the power industry of dragging the chain on managing demand (flattening power peaks) because power companies have an interest in producing and selling more fossil-fuel power at the expense of the environment and consumers.

Jane Castle, of the Total Environment Centre, said: "The NSW Government hasn't complained too loudly because less electricity sold will mean less revenue for the state."

The most successful energy- saving campaign to date - off-peak hot water systems, which heat up water at night, when electricity charges are low - saves upwards of 850 megawatts of electricity in Sydney alone, which is the equivalent of a big power station not being needed.

Work is under way to extend this program to other heavy energy consumers around the home, such as swimming pool pumps.

Modern pumps were relatively quiet, which meant they could be run at night, Mr Maltabarow said.

Some overseas programs offer discounts to homes that allow them to switch off appliances at peak times.

In Sacramento, California, the electricity supplier can install a device and send a radio signal to switch off air-conditioners. It is now giving out free programmable thermostats, which could cut heating and cooling bills by a quarter.

Cost of improving network keeps climbing

Date: December 6 2004

By Brian Robins


The cost of an upgrade of the electricity network in Sydney's centre has doubled to nearly $300 million, and a large part of the money spent may have been outlaid unwisely.

Known as MetroGrid, the 27 kilometre project provides the link between Picnic Point, in the city's south west, and Haymarket for TransGrid, which operates the high voltage electricity transmission network in NSW.

The way MetroGrid was handled has been criticised by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, which is holding an inquiry into the merits of the project and the way it was implemented in the wake of a series of cost over-runs on other TransGrid projects.

TransGrid has not publicly disclosed the massive cost blow-out. But a review by consultants hired by TransGrid to argue its case found that nearly $30 million, or 10 per cent, of the amount spent may not have been spent wisely. The review also claimed the project should have been reviewed once the cost blow-out became apparent.

"This report has identified $29.2 million of investment which further detailed expert review might find to have exceeded the amount invested by a prudent operator," PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

This review was sought by TransGrid, following criticism by the commission over poor handling of the project.

In a separate review, the consultants GHD found "TransGrid has some difficulty in tracking project costs from project inception to completion, undertaking and providing adequate economic project justifications, and reviewing project costs after approval". GHD highlighted significant cost over-runs on other TransGrid projects, such as a 50 per cent blow-out on a transmission line to Coffs Harbour, and more than $210million spent on sub-stations, of which $140million may have been overspent. Another TransGrid project near Wagga Wagga, which was expected to cost more than $90million, was deferred by minor works.

Planning of the MetroGrid project began in the late 1990s, to beef up the CBD's electricity network. TransGrid says the slow regulatory process exacerbated the cost blow-out, as did rising property prices.

Hungry for energy: Steel City first in line for strengthened supply

Date: December 6 2004

Electricity firms are speeding up plans for extra, and more secure, supplies, writes Brian Robins.


With its power-hungry coalmines and aluminium smelters, Newcastle, it has been decided, is more important than Sydney, and will have a higher level of security of electricity supply in place by the end of the year.

Newcastle will have two levels of back-up to its electricity network, known as N-2. Sydney relies on switching electricity between substations to maintain supply if there are disruptions to the network, resulting in blackouts. "Sydney CBD is not yet N-2," said the general manager, network), of EnergyAustralia, George Maltabarow. "It relies on switching, and that takes time, so there could be some outage."

No other city in Australia had two levels of network back-up, Mr Maltabarow said.

"Chicago, New York and major European cities do have it [N-2]."

With electricity demand running well ahead of forecasts thanks to the buoyant economy, planners are being forced to bring forward the installation of additional supplies to Sydney city centre. A new $300 million substation in Haymarket, at the southern end of the city, is expected to be fully utilised over the next 12 months, several years ahead of schedule, and planning is being accelerated on a new power supply to be brought into the city centre through the inner west.

The decision to upgrade Newcastle came after a fire at the main Newcastle substation on June 30. While it resulted in blackouts for less than an hour, it caused several coalmines, coal-export loaders and plants near the city to grind to a halt.

But it was a surge in electricity demand in mid-July, during a cold snap, that convinced EnergyAustralia upgrades were needed. At the time, with the main substation still not back in full operation, it failed for a time as electricity demand soared, although there were no supply disruptions.

"There was no incident as such, but it got us thinking," Mr Maltabarow said.

"We deliver a standard of delivery in line with what the community is prepared to pay."

He was referring to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's decision to limit electricity price rises and hold back some of the planned power equipment upgrades sought by companies such as EnergyAustralia and Integral, to reduce the number of blackouts.

Following the extended blackouts in Auckland in 1998 after a long hot spell, electricity companies in Australia reassessed their networks' vulnerability to similar supply disruptions.

Staying cool puts the heat on electricity grid

Date: December 6 2004

By Brian Robins and Anne Davies


Surging demand for electricity in NSW is being driven by our love affair with air-conditioners.

Half of all households are now estimated to have them, and according to some forecasts the proportion will reach three-quarters of all households over the next decade.

Refrigerators, hot water systems and heaters used to be the heavy home energy guzzlers.

But in the past few years the increasing number of air-conditioners - 50,000 are sold in the state each year - has turned summer afternoons into the peak demand time.

This is forcing NSW electricity companies to consider $5 billion in new spending on power stations and transmission lines to cope with the surge during hot weather. Similar problems are being faced in other states.

Air-conditioners consume about 40 per cent more energy than traditional cooling, such as fans and well-designed, insulated and ventilated houses, says the Total Environment Centre.

The issue is whether it is sensible just to build more network capacity in response to this trend - a cost that will be borne by all electricity users - or to manage the demand, as Sydney has had to do with its water supply.

"There is no equity in the fact that someone can buy a large air-conditioner and impose, say, $5000 of cost on the system, and everyone else pays," said the general manager, network, of Energy Australia George Maltabarow.

"They are used for a small proportion of the time, so you don't recover the capital that you invest to supply, through the tariff, because the air-conditioner is not used enough."

The director of the Total Environment Centre, Jeff Angel, has suggested a levy of 10 per cent on new air-conditioners, with the money going into a demand management fund. "A levy and higher electricity prices would also send a message to consumers that air-conditioners are energy guzzlers," he said. He also criticised the energy companies for selling inefficient air-conditioners.

The Federal Government introduced higher minimum energy-efficiency standards in October, and they will be further tightened in April 2006.

"The bar is being raised," said Paul Ryan, of Energy Consulting. "The program is aimed at removing the least efficient from the marketplace."

Now the Government is proposing linking Australia's energy standards for air conditioners to those of South Korea, which produces the most efficient models.

But the problem is more complicated than raising air-conditioner standards.

Since the late 1980s, and with the building boom, tens of thousands of new homes have been built with little thought to issues of energy efficiency. One reason houses without shade-providing eaves are common in western Sydney is because they allow more house area on smaller blocks.

The state government's new BASIX standards will, by next October, require all plans for new dwellings and alterations to show a 25 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared with the average home. The greenhouse target will rise to 40 per cent from July 2006. But many energy-inefficient houses will still remain.

Another problem is the proliferation of appliances - DVD players, computers, set-top boxes, televisions, modems, clock radios, even telephones - that remain on but dormant most of the day.

Stand-by power accounts for about 10 per cent of electricity use, with the typical home having as many as 30 pieces of electrical equipment plugged in, according to data from by the Australian Greenhouse Office. Work is now underway to reduce this.

"We are an energy-intensive society," said Charles Britton of the Australian Consumers Association. "We should be as efficient as possible. Demand-side management is an important part of the equation and it has to be approached realistically. If it doesn't deliver, and you don't have the infrastructure in place, that is when there will be supply issues. It is an area of some caution."

Climate change altering fire season

Date: December 6 2004

By Robert Wainwright


Heavy rain across NSW in October and November will not save the state from a brief but intensive fire season, possibly in February or even March, says the Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Phil Koperberg.

Fire seasons were changing, he said, delivering a sobering assessment of the coming season. He likened conditions to those of 1994, when 800 fires ringed Sydney for three weeks after Christmas, killing four people, destroying 300 homes and reducing 800,000 hectares to ash.

"It's very easy for people to become blase about a bit of rain around the country," Mr Koperberg said.

He also revealed that he kept a diary in which he recorded a "rough description" of the weather.

"The other day I went back to 1994 and found that it rained in September and October of 1994, and yet by Christmas we had one of the worst fire seasons on record.

"I am not saying we are going to have another 1994. We won't, unless we really stuff up.

"Technology has improved, the competency of fire fighters has moved on, they are better equipped, reconnaissance is better. We'd have to be asleep for that to happen [again]."

But despite the recent rain, only 10 days of hot, dry weather were needed for Sydney to go back into a fire season.

Mr Koperberg said the biggest danger months for big bushfires in NSW was likely to be January and February.

"The traditional fire season is a thing of the past," he said.

"Ten to 15 years ago we talked about changing global weather patterns being in the distant future. Well it's here now, perhaps not with the intensity of another 10, 15 or 25 years' time, when we'll really know it, but there is change."

Mr Koperberg said there was no longer a traditional chronological pattern to the fire season. "We used to talk about the fire season starting on October 1 and fighting our first fire on October 2. What we see now is record high temperatures in September and record low temperatures in November ... Now there is no pattern.

"Once upon a time fire seasons were October and November. The big-ticket fires, apart from Hobart in 1967 and Ash Wednesday in 1983, were all early.

"Twenty years ago November was the fire month and things would slow down by Christmas as the humid air came through. Now it's the other way around. If you take the drought out of the equation, where we were getting grass fires in July, then fire seasons begin to impact later.

"There is a fair chance that the whole season just shifts along, and the weather we normally get in November moves to January. The weather we get in January, we might get in March."

Bit of bush know-how uncovers new cycle of science

Date: December 6 2004

By Darren Goodsir


It began ordinarily enough, as an orthodox science project.

Using a solar panel, the students planned to heat a freezing demountable classroom and save a load of greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

However, cheeky bush innovation and the students' propensity to recycle bits of farm machinery and an abandoned bike transformed the high school exercise into a weight control and discipline tool as well - and it could win them an environmental award.

In first term, 11 students in year 9 at Ariah Park, a small town about 100 kilometres from Wagga Wagga, inspired by their agricultural science teacher, Justin Dunn, set off on their task to warm the classroom naturally.

At times in winter temperatures plummet, requiring significant heating.

"It can be as cold as charity in there during winter, and frequently there are mornings where it can be below zero," said the head science and maths teacher, Moira Burns, who will travel to Sydney today with her students for the finals of the University of NSW's national Sustainable Living Competition.

The first stage involved building the heating device, a solar panel with narrow pipes, cased in black tape, sucking in warm air and blowing out the cold air from the classroom.

That was a significant enough achievement.

But one day one of the students was caught messing around with a discarded bike during class time - and it soon became part of the project.

To augment the limited power generated by the solar panels, the bike was repaired and then attached to the generator and - as a form of punishment - students were required to ride a few cycles.

Later a desk was perched on the bike so study was not interrupted as power was being generated.

"So we are killing the calories and cracking down on discipline at the same time," Ms Burns said.

"Everyone is thrilled to the back teeth about this. In terms of the class, they can see that they are as good as anyone in the state."

The competition, the largest of its kind in Australia, encourages students to devise inventive solutions to environmental challenges. About 3000 students have been involved. Although their invention was not completed in time for winter, the Ariah Park students are working on a reverse-cycle component to turn the bike-heater into an air-conditioner.

Working harder, living less: a mantra for those braving the new world

Date: December 6 2004

In the future, employees and bosses will learn to work with each other, writes Gerard Noonan.


Fifty years ago, futurologists in the US worried about the effect of technology on the average working person. "They looked to the 21st century and said the biggest problem we're all going to face is too much leisure time," says Robert Reich. "Well, it's just the opposite. In fact we now have people working longer hours than ever before."

Reich should know what he is talking about - though it is clear from his workaholic pace that the US guru on work practices doesn't exactly practise what he preaches. Author of 10 works on social and economic trends, including bestsellers The Work of Nations and The Future of Success, the former Harvard University don worked for three US administrations and was secretary of labor in President Bill Clinton's cabinet.

He's taken time out from his present hectic academic schedule at Brandeis University to visit Australia to launch a new liberal think tank funded by Unions NSW, the new name for the NSW Labor Council from January 1. Its brief is to look at work trends 20 years into the future, with a particular emphasis on getting a better balance in the relationship between work and family.

Reich says the situation is now far more stressful than in the 1950s and '60s because there are typically two adults in a family working far longer hours.

"So what happened? Why did technology lead to longer working hours?" asks Reich in an interview with the Herald in Sydney.

"Largely because of the nature of competition in the new economy. If you are not putting in long hours, the chances are your company may lose the competitive race because you're not there with the client or customer and staying up with technological changes.

"This puts enormous pressure on everybody to work better and faster and longer. Women came into the workforce in the United States largely because the wages of production workers began to decline, adjusted for inflation, and women were required to prop up real incomes. Together, you have a tremendous work-family dilemma: Who's going to take care of the kids? Is child care provided? Who is responsible for what at home?"

At a time of strong pressure from Australia's Federal Government to weaken union influence, Reich remains a supporter of unions, arguing that organised labour has best articulated the problem of how work and family issues interact.

He also sees evidence of a revival in union membership among workers in the service sector in the US.

"In the workplace of the future it's vitally important that management gets good information from employees who are closest to the production process, closest to the technology, closest to customers about how to improve product or process," he says. "Organised labour, as it is evolving, could provide that kind of systemic voice.

"There's no reason why organised labour should be thought of as an enemy of management or the relationship between labour and management be a zero sum game.

"There are many examples in the US where labour has become a partner of management in achieving higher degrees of productivity."

But Reich predicts the old labour-management relationship is probably not long for this world.

"By 'old', I mean the highly contentious one in which labour battles management and management battles labour, and trust is undermined.

"That model was appropriate for the industrial age but it is quite dysfunctional today."

Instead, it's about the building-up of what he calls 'relationship capital' - a trusted network of people willing to go the extra mile, who understand constraints and who have worked together for some time.

"So the company brand has behind it a reputation for excellence, founded upon a group of people who are loyal to the company, and their loyalty is founded upon the company being loyal to them. The best companies in the world are actually developing relational capital."

In this brave new world of work, there is an important role for unions in providing a stable workforce and a voice to those workers who are closest to technology, production and customers.

"What we're seeing in the United States is the advent of unions that are working closely with management and developing highly productive outcomes," Reich says.

"They understand what management needs and are developing trust and relationships back and forth."

Robin Hoods raid shops to feed poor

Date: December 6 2004


When 300 "shoppers" poured into a busy Rome supermarket and loaded their trolleys with fine wine and food, it was not because there were any special offers.

Instead the crowd, led by anarchist protesters who swigged champagne as they swept down the aisles, demanded a 70 per cent "discount" on everything they wanted.

They ignored the manager's refusal and wheeled trolleys laden with goods on to the street to distribute their contents to anyone who would take them. Police, who feared a riot, stood by idly.

The raid on the giant Panorama supermarket, on the eastern outskirts of Rome, was the most spectacular of 40 similar swoops on Italian stores in recent weeks by mobs claiming they were "reappropriating" the goods. There is considerable sympathy for the protesters among Italians fed up with high unemployment and economic austerity.

One pensioner who witnessed the Panorama raid complained that after paying his rent he had only €250 ($430) a month to live on. "There's nothing wrong with what they're doing," he said. "Bravo," said a woman.

"I can only go shopping once a month, and when the money runs out I have to tighten my belt."

The first supermarket raid was staged by activists in Milan protesting against the conditions of part-time workers, but anarchists hijacked the idea as a publicity vehicle.

Nor are supermarkets the only target. Last week anarchists extracted autoreduzioni, or "self-imposed discounts", of 60 per cent from bookshops in Bologna and Florence.

Also hit was the Da Celeste restaurant in Volpago del Montello, a town near Venice. A group of 44 people ate a €2000 dinner then walked out without paying. They left a €82 tip and a message telling the owner the unpaid bill was the price he had to pay for catering for a recent NATO meeting in Venice.

Celeste Tolon, the proprietor, said: "The appropriations are unfair to honest, hard-working people like myself. They should have picked on someone else."

The Telegraph, London

Kyoto protocol is insufficient: govt

December 6, 2004 - 7:14AM

The world would require measures more far reaching than the Kyoto agreement to address climate change, federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell said.

Parties to the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are meeting in Buenos Aires for the last time before it comes into effect in 2005.

Australia has refused to ratify the deal, but Senator Campbell said the world could do much more to patch up the changing climate.

"Kyoto was a start, it's got the world focused on it, but we are going to have to do a lot better if we are to address climate change," Senator Campbell told ABC Radio's AM program.

"What we do need to do at the conference in Argentina is work out how is the world going to address the beyond Kyoto task, and Australia will be deeply engaged in that."

© 2004 AAP

Protesters besiege oil platforms

December 7, 2004 - 5:54AM

Protesters besieged oil platforms run by Royal Dutch/Shell Group and ChevronTexaco for a second day, shutting down 90,000 barrels a day in oil production, company officials said.

Hundreds of protesting villagers from Kula community, including women and children, invaded two oil pumping facilities owned by Shell in the Ekulama oilfields and another belonging to ChevronTexaco at Robert-Kiri island in the swamps of the oil-rich delta, demanding to see top officials of both companies.

Shell pumps 70,000 barrels daily from the two stations, while ChevronTexaco pumps 20,000 barrels daily from its own station.

Nigeria, at 2.5 million barrels a day, is Africa's leading oil exporter, the world's seventh-largest exporter, and the fifth-biggest source of US oil imports.

A Shell spokesman in Lagos said the protesters have not made known their grievances but are blocking dozens of oil workers on the platforms from leaving. Representations have been sent to the villagers for negotiations, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

ChevronTexaco has reported the invasion to the authorities of Rivers state, in charge of the region, spokesman Deji Haastrup said.

"We have scheduled a meeting with the Rivers governor (Peter Odili) to discuss the situation," he added.

Protest leaders and officials of the two oil multinationals met with a governor's representative in the Rivers capital, Port Harcourt. They agreed to set up a committee to consider the villagers' demands for jobs and other benefits, Rivers spokesman Emmanuel Okah said.

The decisions reached by the committee will determine when the protesters will leave the oil platforms, he added.

Most of the protesters left the Shell facilities, leaving behind about 20 people to ensure they were not reopened, the company spokesman said.

Oil operations in the restive Niger Delta are frequently disrupted by violence by aggrieved, impoverished communities that feel cheated out of the oil wealth pumped from their land. Nearly all of Nigeria's oil exports come from the delta.

© 2004 AP

Severe storms to hit Vic, NSW, Qld

December 6, 2004 - 6:50PM

A line of storms stretching from the Victorian coast to southwestern Queensland has emergency crews on high alert on Monday.

The weather bureau issued severe thunderstorm warnings for much of Victoria and central NSW, urging residents to batten down and stay indoors as the storms gathered in a line from Cape Otway in Victoria's south-west to Cunnamulla in south-western Queensland.

Storm warnings have been issued for the Mallee, Northern Country, North Central, and Western and Central districts of Victoria; the Riverina, South West Slopes, Upper Western, Central Tablelands, Lower Western and Southern Tablelands of NSW and the southern portion of the ACT.

Centres affected in those districts include Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Albury, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst, Katoomba, Cobar, Bourke and southern Canberra.

Weather bureau severe weather meteorologist, Monica Long, said the line of storms, caused by a low pressure trough, could produce very heavy rain, flash flooding, large hail stones and damaging winds.

"It looks quite severe on our radar but the line has not moved much since we issued the (severe thunderstorm) warning this afternoon," she said.

The trough could cause wet weather in Victoria and NSW for the next few days, Ms Long said.

It was not yet clear if the storms would affect the greater Melbourne area, she said.

The weather bureau warning advised residents to secure loose objects near their homes, avoid sheltering under trees, switch off computers and electrical appliances and not to drive through flooded areas.

Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) spokesman Peter Cocks said there were early reports of heavy rain in Victoria's west but no reports of damage at this stage.

NSW SES spokesman Laura Goodin said the storms were affecting sparsely populated regions of western NSW but SES crews from Bourke to Albury and west to Cobar were on alert.

In Queensland, thunderstorms in the Maranoa and Warrego district were expected to be severe, bringing damaging winds, large hail and heavy rainfall.

The most intense thunderstorms this afternoon were about 60 kilometres west of Charleville.

The State Emergency Service advised people in affected areas to seek shelter and avoid driving, walking or riding through floodwaters.

© 2004 AAP

Pressure on bills to pay for power plants

Date: December 7 2004

By Anne Davies, State Political Editor


Electricity prices are likely to rise to pay for as many as three new power stations needed to meet NSW's energy needs beyond 2008.

The Minister for Utilities, Frank Sartor, released a green paper yesterday to stimulate discussion on how to cope with the expected 32 per cent rise in electricity demand in the next 15 years.

Population growth and the rapidly increasing use of air-conditioners will mean the state needs at least two and possibly three new power stations by early next decade to provide sufficient daytime power and prevent power cuts during peak demand in hot weather.

The paper admits that encouraging the private sector to invest in new power generation will come at a cost to consumers. "The NSW Government acknowledges that many of these options may place upward pressure on retail prices," it says, although it does not suggest how much.

Among a wide range of options, it also flags the idea of giving the electricity companies a free rein on charges by abolishing the present retail price controls. Although this would be politically risky, one of the big problems facing the Government is that NSW enjoys very cheap electricity compared to other states, and prices are heavily regulated.

"While this option would ensure that price regulation does not impede new investment, it would be necessary to demonstrate that competition is sufficiently developed," the paper says.

The paper also canvasses measures to send strong price signals to energy guzzlers. One option is to introduce timed meters for high-use customers. This would enable different prices to be charged for peak and off-peak electricity to homes and businesses. It also suggests steps in prices to make big users pay more.

Although the Government insists supply is adequate for the next four years, demand in summer is growing rapidly. More peak capacity will be needed after 2008-09 if the current extreme weather continues.

A gas-fired power station is the most likely solution to the peak load problem because - although it would cost more to run - a gas plant can be turned on and off quickly. But the paper also says additional "base load" capacity is needed, which is likely to mean a new coal-fired station. This is despite a commitment by the Premier, Bob Carr, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 95 per cent of 1990 per capita levels by 2007.

Mr Sartor said the use of clean coal would lessen environmental concerns over a coal-fired station. "The simple fact is you have to consider economic feasibility, technical feasibility and greenhouse gas impacts when making a decision," Mr Sartor said.

"Generally speaking, gas is economic for peaking plants. It would be difficult to see a gas plant provide supply of base load."

He said nuclear power was not being considered. But whatever action was taken, it was a big decision for the state, he said. "We have to act rationally and sensibly without massive impacts on consumers, while also addressing greenhouse."

The Government will be faced with trade-offs, the paper says. It says retail prices may have to rise if greenhouse gas emission targets are set which result in higher costs. But it also argues that investment in energy efficiency and demand-management can result in lower energy bills, even if the price per kilowatt rises.

One of the measures in the plan is a demand-management fund, to be financed by a small levy on consumers. Mr Sartor declined to call it a levy, saying: "We are talking about one cent a day per average household."

The Government's preparedness to even consider a new coal-fired plant horrified greens. The Australian Conservation Foundation's Monica Richter said: "The Premier has taken a national leadership role on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He must now get down to business by implementing the viable alternatives to another polluting power station for NSW."

Push towards renewable energy runs out of puff

Date: December 7 2004

By Anne Davies, State Political Editor


Australia is falling behind other countries in its pursuit of clean energy.

Forecasts suggest the proportion of renewable energy - mainly wind and hydro schemes in Australia, but also solar - is declining as the ever-growing demand for electricity is increasingly met by coal-fired power stations.

The chief executive of the Australian Wind Energy Association, Libby Anthony, said: "Australia's current energy policy will actually see the market share of renewable energy decline in real terms over the next 10 years." The proportion of energy generated from renewable energy has slipped over the past 20 years, from 20 per cent, primarily from Snowy Hydro, to below 10 per cent.

"Countries around the world have embraced clean renewable energies as a significant part of their strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Australia, the highest per capita greenhouse-gas polluter in the world, has an obligation to do the same," Ms Anthony said.

Wind will provide a third of new generating capacity in the European Union this decade, she said. And China has committed to source 17 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020.

In contrast, Australia's mandatory renewable energy target requires only a 2 per cent increase by 2010, which was based on outdated 1997 projections of Australia's energy needs by that time, Ms Anthony said.

The installed capacity of wind turbines was now 379 megawatts, she said. It is expected to grow by 20 per cent a year, with another 324 megawatts under construction, and 415 megawatts approved and at tender stage.

Ms Anthony said increasing the mandatory target to 10 per cent by 2010 "would have minimal effect on the economy and would deliver desperately needed jobs and investment to rural and regional Australia".

The target determines how many "renewable certificates" will be issued. Wind farmers can sell the certificates to large energy users, which must meet green targets either by installing green measures or buying certificates.

Ms Anthony said her association knew of 4200 megawatts of wind turbine capacity at the feasibility stage that were unlikely to proceed because there were too few certificates.

Others are sceptical about wind and other forms of renewable energy. The outgoing managing director of Energy Australia, Paul Broad, dismisses the contribution wind farms can make. "It's nickel and dime stuff," he said.

But Denmark showed it could be done, Ms Anthony said. It has 5000 wind turbines in giant wind farms. By harnessing North Sea winds it generates electricity for more than 1 million homes, the highest per capita wind energy provision of any country, Greenpeace says.

The Danish Government plans to triple wind energy production by 2040 by developing five offshore wind-turbine parks.

There is increasing concern internationally over the noise and visual impact of wind turbines. And in NSW a National Party MP, Duncan Gay, has taken up the cause of the Dooley family, near Crookwell, east of Young.

They are fighting plans for another large wind farm, which would leave the family farm surrounded on four sides by wind farms. "Col Dooley compares the sound of the existing eight wind turbines on a windy day to "a stock crate on a gravel road, with its decks down", Mr Gay said.

Nuclear spring: a potential bridge to a truly sustainable era

Date: December 7 2004


There is renewed interest in nuclear power, some leading environmentalists seeing nuclear as a bridge to the renewables era of solar, wind and tidal power.

Two weeks ago, when questioned on ABC TV's Lateline program about the State Government's plan for a new coal-fired power station, the Premier, Bob Carr, declined to rule out a nuclear option.

"We do need a transition; we need a bridge," Mr Carr said. "The arguments about nuclear power that have got to be met are waste disposal, reactor safety and nuclear proliferation.

"Now, I don't think it's beyond the ingenuity of people to deal with reactor safety."

But he said he could not see a proposal to generate nuclear power being approved in less than 10 years, as it would be as difficult as getting development approval for a new city airport.

Coal the key to state's appetite for consumption

Date: December 7 2004

By Gerard Noonan


Two power stations, one of them a controversial coal-fired one, are the most likely option to meet demand for electricity in NSW.

But rising power consumption could mean the state will need up to three new stations by early next decade to prevent electricity shortages during peak times.

A discussion paper released by the Energy Minister, Frank Sartor, yesterday makes it clear a new gas-fired power station will be needed by 2008-09 to cope with seasonal peaks in summer and winter.

At least one new base-load station, almost certainly using coal-burning technology, will be needed by 2012-13.

However, the paper says that if no new power stations are built until 2012 NSW will need generators producing an extra 2000 megawatts of electricity.

This suggests more than two or even three new stations will be needed - since a typical station in NSW now produces 600 or 750 megawatts of power.

The sensitive issue of where such stations would be built is canvassed, but no firm recommendations are made.

In the case of coal-fired stations, they need to be close to coal mines because of the cost of transporting the coal. But local air pollution issues and water supply are also factors, as is proximity to the transmission grid.

"Potential sites for new coal development are in areas surrounding the Hunter Valley and the Gunnedah region," it notes.

Gas-fired stations, able to quickly meet daily (sometimes hourly) peak demand from consumers, can potentially be built wherever a natural gas pipe can be connected.

The paper suggests the high cost of coping with greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired stations - even so-called clean coal technologies - means the traditionally more costly, but less polluting, gas-fired stations may become a cheaper option.

However, existing supplies of gas to NSW could service an expansion by just "a few thousand megawatts of capacity", far short of the 6000 megawatts of extra capacity the paper says will be needed by 2020.

The paper is unenthusiastic about wind generation, suggesting that while there are proposals for wind farms in the south of the state, "these regions are also valued for their landscape attributes".

The NSW Government has made it clear it does not intend to build any new electricity generation capacity itself.

However, to overcome the wariness of private operators to build because they do not trust the government on price setting, the paper suggests a new model where private interests build a new plant but sell the electricity through a joint venture with a state-owned generator.

Caught by oversupply from government-owned generators in the 1980s and '90s, and faced with a highly competitive interstate market, private operators have been reluctant to build and operate new base-load stations.

Sharp rise in utilities complaints

Date: December 7 2004

By Kirsty Needham, Consumer Reporter


Complaints to the NSW utilities ombudsman surged 37 per cent last financial year, with more than 18,500 households having their electricity supply disconnected.

The annual report of the Energy and Water Ombudsman showed 73 per cent of complaints were about electricity retailers. Disconnection and trouble paying dominated electricity cases.

"Things are getting tighter and tighter for a lot of people and they are being pushed over into financial difficulty," said the ombudsman, Clare Petre.

In one case a woman with a 12-month-old baby and a nine-year-old lived without electricity for three months after being disconnected for non-payment. The woman had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the electricity company a payment plan for the $1000 owed, and had also been turned down by community agencies she approached for help.

"There are increasing pressures on utilities and customers, particularly in relation to issues of supply, sustainability and pricing," Ms Petre said.

"Ensuring that essential services stay within the reach of all customers is a challenge for the whole community."

The number of electricity disconnections fell from 25,141 in 2002-03 to 18,514 as some companies introduced programs offering advice on how to reduce power bills and flexible payment options.

A high level of complaints about EnergyAustralia and Integral Energy reflected the fact the main Sydney electricity providers did not have any assistance programs in place until a few weeks ago, Ms Petre said.

Competition between electricity and gas retailers to sign customers onto long-term contracts prompted almost 1000 complaints about misleading marketing, transfer errors and hidden termination charges.

Australia accused of backing US-sponsored terrorism

Date: December 7 2004

By Matthew Moore, Herald Correspondent in Yogyakarta


The host of an Australian Government-backed meeting designed to counter the influence of terrorists has accused Australia of supporting "state-sponsored terrorism".

After addressing a meeting of 124 religious leaders from the region, the chairman of the moderate Indonesian Islamic group Muhammadiyah, Syafii Maarif, renewed past criticisms of Australia for backing "US imperialistic foreign policy, state terrorism".

Mr Maarif said he had already told the Prime Minister, John Howard, of his views that US foreign policy made it harder for mass organisations like his to sell a message of moderation.

In his opening comments, Mr Maarif praised the two-day "interfaith dialogue" organised by the Australian and Indonesian governments as a good way to demonstrate how "religion is good for society ... a powerful force for progress harmony and tolerance".

But he told reporters outside the meeting that although he supported the fight against terrorism, it was important to examine its root causes, which included US foreign policy.

"We cannot work in isolation. What is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine affects our way of thinking here in Indonesia."

Indonesia's President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, opened the meeting with an address to delegates, representing all major faiths, invited from 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations nations and Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

Dr Yudhoyono said this first interfaith meeting should become a regular event, as it offered a way to combat the "scourge of terrorism".

"To my mind, terrorism today must be regarded as the enemy of all religions ...

In the end the forces of light, reason and hope must overpower the forces of darkness, despair and violence," he said.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said the largely Australian-funded dialogue was just one way Australia was trying to combat terrorism.

"A terrible perversion of religion with a violent face threatens moderate believers and moderate states in both the East and the West," he said.

"Ultimately it is people of moderation who are going to be able effectively to curb the terrorists and others who commit violent acts in the name of religion."

Furious Greens haul Premier over the coals

Date: December 8 2004

By Anne Davies, State Political Editor


The Greens have accused the Premier, Bob Carr, of deceiving the people of NSW about his green credentials, saying a new coal-fired power plant was unconscionable. The Greens MP Ian Cohen said yesterday that despite the Premier recently hosting the international climate change task force in Sydney, "the coal industry in NSW continues to expand at the fastest rate in history".

The director of the Total Environment Centre, Jeff Angel, said environmental organisations had identified more than 6000 megawatts of clean power that could be produced at less than the cost of building new power stations.

"This is not nickel and dime stuff; this is serious contribution to our energy needs," he said.

Mr Angel said there were 1500 megawatts of wind farms in the pipeline for NSW. There were also several proposals for co-generation (gas and coal) and for plants using agricultural waste.

A further 450 megawatts could be generated through better use of existing plants, he said.

He called on the State Government to adopt a target of producing 20 per cent of the state's power from renewable sources, instead of the current 10 per cent achieved.

The green groups want to see at least $50 million a year spent on demand management, including measures such as installing solar water heating in public housing, encouraging use of energy-efficient appliances and getting business to cut its use of power.

Asked why he thought the Government was not prepared to back renewable energy, Mr Angel said it was too dependent on the dividends it received from coal-fired plants to encourage more sustainable practices.

The Federal Government claimed this week it was on track to meet its target under the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. But the executive director of the Australia Institute, Clive Hamilton, said the report from the Greenhouse Office showed this was true only because Australia had stopped land clearing.

"Rapidly declining land clearing emissions serve to offset the phenomenal growth in emissions from the other sectors, notably electricity and transport. The report estimates that in 2008-12 emissions from stationary energy (mainly electricity) will increase by 46 per cent over 1990 levels."

The acting chairman of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, James Cox, defended the watchdog's approach to electricity prices. He said he did not think electricity was underpriced and said the tribunal had recently agreed to 7 per cent increases for Energy Australia customers, with smaller rises in the next two years.

Climate change no joke for new green leader

Date: December 8 2004

Ian Lowe likes a laugh but warns Mark Todd that politicians must take him seriously.

There are two things that happen when you hit 40, says Ian Lowe, Peter Garrett's successor as the president of the Australian Conservation Foundation. "The first is that your memory starts to go," he says. "And the second thing is ... give me a moment, I'm sure it will come to me ..."

Ask around and you'll find that Lowe is known for his one-liners and good humour. But there's a darker side to the 62-year-old scientist, a side that fears a dimming mind might be for the best if the environment's decline isn't checked.

"What climate-change science is telling us is that we may be causing [a] steady change in rainfall and temperature but we also could inadvertently trigger a real catastrophe," he says. "The decision-makers still don't show any sign of recognising the urgency of the situation."

In Lowe's mind, exploring clean fuels and the more efficient use of energy are decisions that should have been made 10 years ago. The consequences of that slow-moving approach are profound.

The world is in the midst of its sixth major extinction event, drawing comparisons with the end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were wiped out, and the Permian period - 280 million to 230 million years ago - during which the biggest-ever mass extinction on Earth took place.

People must understand that water restrictions, creeping in around the country, aren't merely inconveniences but signs of potential disaster, Lowe says.

Against that background, the Australian Conservation Foundation - an organisation with more PhDs per square metre than most - isn't understating the importance of Lowe's elevation to the head of the group. Past presidents include Sir Mark Oliphant; the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip; and Sir Garfield Barwick.

"I'd be willing to be bold enough to say this is probably the most crucial appointment we've made," says the foundation's vice-president, Penny Figgis. "We really are at the decision point: we can keep treating the environment as the marginal interest of greenies or we can begin to understand that it is something that underpins everything we do from our way of life, our health and the economy. I can't think of a better person to lead that debate than somebody who has the science and the capacity to communicate."

Lowe, a member of the foundation for 21 years, might never have developed a green streak had he turned one way rather than another after graduating from the University of NSW. He studied engineering and science and admits had he decided to go off and build bridges he probably would never have developed his interest in the environment.

He opted for science and went on to earn his doctorate - "I was a bit of a technocrat back then" - from the University of York, funded by the British Atomic Energy Authority. Gradually he started to take notice of world events such as the oil crisis of the 1970s before he found himself a decade later organising a national conference on the greenhouse effect.

"I suppose I've become gradually more concerned about the urgency of the problem as I've become more aware of the science," he says.

Decision-makers, and the Federal Government in particular, are behaving as though "there are no costs of doing nothing".

Lowe is, however, heartened by surveys that suggest the public, at least, is aware of the need to act. A Newspoll survey last month showed that 84 per cent of people were concerned about the environment and almost 90 per cent believed individuals, government and business must all take responsibility for protecting it.

Lowe has as much at stake as anyone in ensuring the world is still there when he finishes his two-year stint as president of the foundation. According to Figgis, "Ian isn't a boffin, I can assure you." He plays cricket, holds a golf handicap of 19 and sings tenor in choral groups.

"Peter [Garrett] was a great communicator across generations but Ian's great strengths are his humour and his intelligence. And he's a communicator as well," Figgis says. "He's an interesting combination of the light and the deeply serious. I think he accepts that we're facing a critical decade."


Published on Wednesday December 8, 2004 by TomDispatch.com
No Escape from Dependency
Looming Energy Crisis Overshadows Bush's Second Term
by Michael Klare

When George W. Bush entered the White House in early 2001, the nation was suffering from a severe "energy crisis" brought on by high gasoline prices, regional shortages of natural gas, and rolling blackouts in California. Most notable was the artificial scarcity of natural gas orchestrated by the Enron Corporation in its rapacious drive for mammoth profits. In response, the President promised to make energy modernization one of his top concerns. However, aside from proposing the initiation of oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he did little to ameliorate the country's energy woes during his first four years in office. Luckily for him, the energy situation improved slightly as a national economic slowdown depressed demand, leading to a temporary decline in gasoline prices. But now, as Bush approaches his second term in office, another energy crisis looms on the horizon -- one not likely to dissipate of its own accord.

The onset of this new energy crisis was first signaled in January 2004, when Royal Dutch/Shell -- one of the world's leading energy firms – revealed that it had overstated its oil and natural gas reserves by about 20%, the net equivalent of 3.9 billion barrels of oil or the total annual consumption of China and Japan combined. Another indication of crisis came only one month later, when the New York Times revealed that prominent American energy analysts now believe Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, had exaggerated its future oil production capacity and could soon be facing the wholesale exhaustion of some of its most prolific older fields. Although officials at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) insisted that these developments did not foreshadow a near-term contraction in the global supply of energy, warnings increased from energy experts of the imminent arrival of "peak" oil -- the point at which the world's known petroleum fields will attain their highest sustainable yield and commence a long, irreversible decline.

How imminent that peak-oil moment may in fact be has generated considerable debate and disagreement within the specialist community, and the topic has begun to seep into public consciousness. A number of books on peak oil -- Out of Gas by David Goodstein, The End of Oil by Paul Roberts, and The Party's Over by Richard Heinberg, among others -- have appeared in recent months, and a related documentary film, The End of Suburbia, has gained a broad underground audience. As if to acknowledge the seriousness of this debate, the Wall Street Journal reported in September that evidence of a global slowdown in petroleum output can no longer be ignored. While no one can say with certainty that recent developments portend the imminent arrival of peak oil output, there can be no question that global supply shortages will prove increasingly common in the future.

Nor is the evidence of a slowdown in oil output the only sign of an unfolding energy crisis. Of no less significance is the dramatic increase in energy demand from newly-industrialized nations -- especially China. As recently as 1990, the older industrialized countries (including the former Soviet Union) accounted for approximately three-quarters of total worldwide oil consumption. But the consumption of petroleum in developing nations is growing so rapidly -- at three times the rate for developed countries -- that it is soon expected to draw even.

To meet the needs of their older customers and satisfy the rising demand from the developing world, the major oil producers will have to boost production at breakneck speed. According to the DoE, total world petroleum output will have to grow by approximately 44 million barrels per day between now and 2025 -- an increase of 57% -- to satisfy anticipated world demand. This increase represents a prodigious amount of oil, the equivalent to total world consumption in 1970, and it is very difficult to imagine where it will all come from (especially given indications of a global slowdown in daily output). If, as appears likely, the world's energy firms prove incapable of satisfying higher levels of international demand, the competition among major consumers for access to the remaining supplies will grow increasingly more severe and stressful.

To further complicate matters, many of the countries the Bush administration considers potential suppliers of additional petroleum, including Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, are torn by ethnic and religious conflict or are buffeted by powerful anti-American currents. Even if these countries possess sufficient untapped reserves to sustain an increase in output, as long as they remain chronically unstable, the desired increases are unlikely to appear. After all, any significant increase in day-to-day energy output requires substantial investment in new infrastructure -- investment that is not likely to materialize in countries suffering from perpetual disorder. At best, production in such countries will remain flat or rise sluggishly; at worst, as in Iraq today, it may even threaten to fall. Indeed, the persistence of political turmoil in countries like Angola, Colombia, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela has largely been responsible for the higher gasoline prices still evident, despite recent modest decreases, at the neighborhood pump.

If anything, the potential for conflict in such countries is likely to grow as demand for their petroleum rises. The reason is simple. Increased petroleum output in otherwise impoverished nations tends to widen the gap between haves and have-nots -- a divide that often falls along ethnic and religious lines -- and to sharpen internal political struggles over the distribution of oil revenues. Because the wealth generated by oil production is so vast, and because few incumbent leaders are willing to abandon their positions of privilege, internal struggles of this sort are prone to trigger violent clashes between competing claimants to national power.

In many cases, these clashes may take the form of attacks on the oil infrastructure itself, further jeopardizing the global availability of energy. As shown in Colombia and Iraq, where raids on oil pipelines and pumping stations have become a near-daily occurrence, such infrastructure -- stretched out over miles and miles of jungle or desert -- represents an unusually vulnerable and inviting target for terrorism. Not only do such attacks deprive the prevailing regime of vital revenues, but they also constitute an assault on the United States and the large multinational corporations that are deemed responsible for so many of the developing world's afflictions.

With oil demand regularly outpacing supply and disorder spreading in major producing areas, global shortages and resulting high prices are likely to become the norm, not the exception. Ideally, the United States could compensate for any shortfalls in the global availability of petroleum by increasing its reliance on other sources of energy. When producing electricity, for example, it is often possible to switch from coal to natural gas and back again. But most of our petroleum supplies are used in transportation -- mainly to power cars, trucks, buses, and planes -- and, for this purpose, oil has no readily available substitutes. Indeed, we have so organized our economy and society around the availability of cheap and abundant petroleum that we are severely ill-equipped to deal with the sort of shortages and supply disruptions that are likely to become the norm in the years ahead.

It is here that the performance of the Bush administration should come in for close scrutiny. In response to the earlier energy crisis of 2001, the President appointed a National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, to analyze America's energy predicament and devise appropriate solutions. The NEPDG issued its final report, the National Energy Policy (also known as the Cheney Report), in May, 2001. How the group arrived at its final assessment is a matter of some speculation, as the administration has refused to make its deliberations public, but its conclusions are incontrovertible: rather than stress conservation and the rapid development of renewable energy sources, the report called for increased U.S. reliance on petroleum. And because domestic oil production is in an irreversible decline, any rise in American oil usage necessarily entails an increased reliance on imported petroleum.

In a crude attempt to mislead the public about the nature of our oil dependency, the Cheney Report called for increasing U.S. energy "independence" by exploiting the untapped oil reserves of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and other protected wilderness areas. But ANWR only possesses sufficient petroleum to provide this country with (at most) 1 million barrels per day for an estimated 15-20 years, a tiny fraction of the 20 million barrels of additional oil that will be needed to supplement domestic output in 2025. What this suggests is that the overwhelming bulk of this additional energy will have to be acquired from foreign sources. To obtain all this imported energy, the Cheney Report calls on the President and his chief associates to place a high priority on acquiring additional petroleum from producers in the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea basin, Africa, and Latin America -- that is, from regions especially susceptible to instability and anti-Americanism.

As a result, we are more dependent on foreign oil in 2004 than we were in 2001, and all the indicators suggest that this dependency will only become more pronounced during Bush's second term. Yes, the administration has proposed modest investment in the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cells and other new energy systems; but, at current rates of development, these new technologies will not prove capable of substituting for oil on a significant scale during the next few decades. This means that we will face our looming energy crisis with no viable fallback measures in sight. We remain trapped in our dependence on imported oil. In the long run, the only conceivable result of this will be sustained crisis and deprivation.

When, and in just what form, the United States enters the coming energy crisis cannot be foreseen. Perhaps it will be provoked by a coup d'état in Nigeria, a civil war in Venezuela, or a feud among senior princes in the Saudi royal family (possibly brought on by the impending death of King Fahd). Or it could be thanks to a major act of terrorism or a catastrophic climate event. Whatever the case, our existing energy system, already stretched to its limits, will not be able to absorb a major blow like this without considerable readjustment and pain -- or worse. While President Bush is likely to respond to a new energy crisis, as he has in the past, with renewed calls for drilling in ANWR and the further relaxation of U.S. environmental standards, nothing he has proposed to date even suggests a viable exit strategy from perpetual crisis.

Michael Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and the author, most recently, of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).

© 2004 Michael Klare

Sydney Morning Herald

Global warming at critical point, report says

Date: January 25 2005

By John Garnaut

Australia and the US must be lured into a new, post-Kyoto Protocol agreement that halts global warming before it passes a calamitous tipping point, an international taskforce of business leaders, politicians and scientists warns.

The International Climate Change Taskforce, endorsed by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and whose members include the Premier, Bob Carr, says the risks of "abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change" will lift sharply if average global surface temperatures rise by more than two degrees. On current projections, the world could confront this danger point within a decade.

The taskforce's report, Meeting the Climate Challenge, released yesterday, urges Australia and the US to adopt a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and an emissions trading scheme.

"The plan builds on existing international treaties to provide a way for Australia and the US to rejoin the global efforts to tackle climate change," Mr Carr said. "They are the only two industrialised nations that remain outside of the Kyoto Protocol."

Developed countries are urged to lift renewable energy targets to 25 per cent - compared with Australia's 2 per cent - and promote the use of hybrid petrol and electric cars that cut emissions by one-third.

Governments should also heavily subsidise emissions-reducing technology, including for coal-powered generators, the report says.

Controversially, the report suggests transferring agricultural subsidies from food to biofuels such as ethanol, although there is mixed evidence as to whether the organic growth of sugar cane and wheat absorbs more carbon than that emitted by converting and burning the plant-based fuel.

Mr Blair has listed climate change policy as a top priority during his term this year as president of both the G8 group of rich countries and the European Union.

The taskforce, co-chaired by US Republican senator Olympia Snowe and British MP Stephen Byers, a close ally of Mr Blair, says environmental and human costs would increase dramatically if global surface temperatures rise more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, measured at 1750.

"Average temperature increases larger than this will entail substantial agricultural losses, greatly increased numbers of people at risk of water shortages, and widespread adverse health impacts," the report says. "[It] could also imperil a very high proportion of the worlds' coral reefs and cause irreversible damage to important terrestrial ecosystems."

Average global temperatures are estimated to have risen 0.8 per cent since 1750 and the effect of new emissions already in the atmosphere will push temperatures up further. An atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide of 400 parts per million (ppm) would cause temperatures to rise by two degrees.

CO2 concentration is already at 379 ppm, it says, up from 280 ppm in 1750.

The taskforce also proposes a scheme for developing countries to join the global program during or after the Kyoto Protocol's target period of 2008-2012.

Developing countries are asked to first reduce energy intensity in production, then reduce the use of carbon in their fuel mix and ultimately accept binding emissions targets.

The federal Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell, welcomed the report and said it confirmed many of the Government's policies. "[However] we strongly disagree with the recommendation about the national trading scheme due to the high cost it would impose on domestic and industrial power bills," he said.

Sydney Morning Herald

Govt defends approach to climate change

January 25, 2005 - 8:19AM

Environment Minister Ian Campbell defended Australia's efforts to tackle climate change despite a new international report calling for it to do more.

A report by the International Climate Change Taskforce, which includes NSW Premier Bob Carr, calls on Australia and the United States to develop strategies on climate change similar to countries which signed up to the Kyoto protocol.

The report urges Australia, which along with US has not signed the protocol, to work with the G8 group of nations to develop technology plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But Senator Campbell said Australia was already working on reducing greenhouse gases.

He also said the report's call for a 25 per cent move to renewable sources of energy within 20 years was technologically and economically undeliverable.

"It's fine to have it as a aspirational sort of statement but it's probably not deliverable unless you have a major breakthrough in storage technology and that's why the government's spending some $100 million as part of a $1.8 billion package to look for these technological breakthroughs," he told ABC radio.

"But apart from that we welcome the report.

"There are a number of bits of it we don't agree with, but much of it supports the commonwealth's focus on what happens beyond Kyoto or post Kyoto, where you really need significant breakthroughs in a comprehensive international agreement and also technological breakthroughs."

Australia Institute executive director Clive Hamilton said the report offered Australia the chance to take part in a global push to tackle climate change.

"The new framework that we've mapped out builds on Kyoto and the framework convention but recognises the political reality that the Bush administration (in the US) and Howard government have drawn a line in the sand and said we're not going to cross that line and ratify the Kyoto protocol," he told ABC radio.

"So the new framework proposed accommodates that concern, perhaps reluctantly on the part of some members, but recognises the political reality and takes at face value the claims of those two governments that they want to play an appropriate role in tackling global climate change."

© 2005 AAP

Sydney Morning Herald

Turning on the power

 January 29th, 2005

The drive for green energy is splitting once tight-knit communities, writes Darren Goodsir.


Former wharf leader John Coombs retired to the bush four years ago for a more sedentary life, far from the rough-and-tumble politics that so characterised his time on the docks. But since moving to his small property - overlooking undulating hills near the towns of Goulburn, Gunning and Crookwell, south-west of Sydney - Coombs, the secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia during the waterfront dispute in the late 1990s, has found himself at the centre of a hostile debate over the merits of green power, visual pollution and money.

Most of the arguments are about the so-called benefits of wind power. But just beneath the surface of this vexed discussion lies an equally compelling tale about the dramatic social and economic changes that are blowing through once-unified bush towns, vulnerable because of the hardship of drought.

"I've never encountered so much secrecy," says Coombs, now a Labor councillor on the Upper Lachlan Shire Council.

"There are confidentiality agreements in place, and people are suspicious of one another.

"And there has been nothing to guide us, as councillors, on how we should approach this issue; how we should be making big decisions on such developments ... and whether they are good for the community and the environment."

Last year, with a number of wind farm applications pending, Coombs agitated for his small council to back a motion asking for a state-run inquiry into wind farms - and their rapid proliferation. He wanted government-backed guidance on how councillors should assess the towering wind turbines and their potential effect on small bush communities. It was unanimously supported, not least because of its local relevance.

At present, there are only four wind farms in NSW, with a total of 26 turbines. The private wind companies pay farmers to have the turbines placed on their land. One of the first was installed in Crookwell in 1998, with eight relatively small turbines.

But it has been seen as a success - and, since its opening, the area has been targeted because of its elevation and exposure to prevailing winds. So much so that three of the 14 plants that are now the subject of detailed feasibility studies in NSW are in or near Crookwell.

It's an attractive site for the wind industry. One of the proposed farms would have more than 50 turbines.

At the first Upper Lachlan council meeting after the call for the inquiry was ratified, an application to approve a gigantic Delta Energy wind farm at nearby Gurrundah came up for debate.

It seemed a contradictory move, but the motion for approval was passed with only one objection, from Coombs - with two councillors, including the Mayor, Brian McCormack, excusing themselves from the vote. McCormack really had no option other than to be absent. The Gurrundah plant, which will become NSW's largest with 31 turbines ranging in size from 40 to 78 metres high, will be on his brother's property - which has one of the highest ridges in the region.

In the wake of the council decision, the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, Craig Knowles, announced he would take control from councils and be the consent authority for all future wind farms. Under these new rules, Knowles can intervene in any wind generation proposal - and it is mandatory for him to step in for those with 30 or more turbines.

While supporting the need for more wind power, Knowles said it was critical that there was consistency in all decisions.

The president of the Australian Wind Energy Association, Ian Lloyd-Besson, supports the minister's intervention, but says it was inevitable - given the need for greater sources of renewable power to be exploited - that more wind generation farms would be developed, especially in NSW.

"It's more a question now of how it is going to happen, rather than whether it is going to happen," he says. "But we are very much about detailed consultation with communities, and we want to see these being supported.

"NSW is well placed and stands to benefit quite significantly. It has good resources and good infrastructure.

"Of course, there is one thing you can't deny, and that is that wind turbines are big, and that is why we seek to site them sensitively in landscapes that are appropriate."

Conscious of the growing community backlash, the association last year decided to engage the Australian Council of National Trusts to conduct a "landscape assessment" and develop revised guidelines on better locations for wind farms.

The strategy has been well received, especially in the light of the reaction of the public to suggestions that sandhills near Kurnell, the birthplace of white Australia, had been identified by the electricity infrastructure provider, TransGrid, for its potential for wind generation. While TransGrid was careful to say that no plans for a wind farm were being contemplated, the mere fact the location was suggested as attractive gives an insight into the industry's desire to expand.

Just this week, the International Climate Change Taskforce for G8 countries backed a call for 25 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.

So, with so much pressure for green power, regardless of community concerns, it seems the push to erect more wind turbines will be hard to stop. What the State Government's actions seem to suggest though is that more can, and should, be done on where they are located - and how locals and environmentalists can be brought more effectively into the decision-making process.



Sydney Morning Herald

Nuclear power given glowing approval to help curb global warming

February 2nd, 2005

By Stephanie Peatling

Nuclear energy should be considered as part of the solution to global warming, one of Australia's most senior scientists says.

But Graeme Pearman, the former CSIRO chief scientist for atmospheric research and now a government consultant, doubts it can be discussed as a potential solution because of the emotion surrounding the issue.

"It is a great pity that because of the way environmental issues have evolved, [nuclear energy] cannot be logically put into the debate," Dr Pearman said yesterday.

"There are such strongly held views that it's hard to have a logical debate.

"It should be on the list of possibilities but I don't see it happening."

Dr Pearman's comments, made at the Australian Institute of Physics Congress in Canberra, echo those of Britain's Professor James Lovelock, who attracted international attention last year when he said that only a massive expansion of nuclear energy could stop global warming from overwhelming civilisation.

Nuclear power stations can generate electricity but produce only a tiny amount of the greenhouse gas emissions that are created when fossil fuels such as coal are used. However, community mistrust of nuclear power has been significant, particularly since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

A conference on climate change that begins in Britain today will see the release of a new report by the World Health Organisation.

The report says a two-degree rise in average global temperatures could put between 2 billion and 3 billion people at risk from water shortages and disease.

Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has made climate change a priority for his term as head of the G8 group of countries.

Mr Blair has not ruled out examining nuclear energy as an option to help Britain make substantial cuts in the amount of greenhouse gases it produces.




Unlimited clean energy from the vacuum. No dependence on foreign oil from politically unstable areas. No pollution. No degradation of the biosphere. No radioactive waste disposal problems. No dependence on strategically vulnerable centralized power and distribution systems.

And a cure for cancer and all other cellular diseases.


 An Electrifying Breakthrough!

It seems that William Gazecki is doing a documentary film about the illegally suppressed free energy devices!




It was he who produced the wonderful documentary, "CROP CIRCLES, QUEST FOR THE TRUTH"

It is easier to ridicule than investigate, but not as profitable. - ancient and long-forgotten Earth saying.


Big Oil won't take this lying down


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