About 1000 Latrobe Valley residents gathered at Kernot Hall in Morwell on March 2 to protest against government and corporate mishandling of the fire in the Hazelwood coalmine. Residents directed their anger at government inaction and misinformation, and corporate negligence by GDF Suez, the multinational operator of the mine and power station. Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley explained to the meeting the efforts and risks being taken by the firefighters.
The Socialist Alliance Victoria released this statement on March 2. *** The mine fire that has been burning since February 9 is an immediate and serious threat to the health of residents in Morwell and other towns near the Hazelwood mine. Immediate health threats include: elevated levels of carbon monoxide, a toxic gas; fine particulate pollution in the PM2.5 and PM10 size range; ash fallout over the area, potentially containing many toxic compounds; carcinogenic compounds in ash and particulates.
Outside the city of Port Augusta in South Australia, the firm Alinta Energy runs the ageing brown coal-fired Northern power station. Environmentalists and local campaigners want the plant replaced with state-of-the-art solar power generation. But Alinta would rather solar power were used to pre-heat water for the existing plant, which would then stay in operation for further decades.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is living up to his new nickname, “Naptime”, as the Hazelwood coalmine fire continues its terrible impact on the town of Morwell in the Latrobe Valley. The edge of the town is only a few hundred metres from where the fire has been burning since February 9. The plume of toxic smoke and ash from the fire has been blanketing the town.
The Tony Abbott government has done something no other government in the world has done before, asking UNESCO to take one of the nation’s unique natural areas off the World Heritage list. In Tasmania, 170,000 hectares of forest was given World Heritage status in June last year. Environmentalists have long considered the areas, which mostly border existing World Heritage areas, worthy of protection. Among them are well-known forests such as the Styx, Weld and Upper Florentine Valleys.
A fire burning in a coal seam at the Hazelwood coalmine in Victoria's Latrobe Valley caused the local Air Quality Index to reach nearly five times the amount considered “very poor” on February 19. Schools and kindergartens have been closed down in the town of Morwell, which is less than 500 metres from the edge of the mine. Residents have been complaining of headaches and other problems, and many have left the area.
The Wilderness Society releases this statement on February 20. *** More than 100 people protested against Whitehaven’s proposed Maules Creek coalmine outside the company’s Sydney office on February 20. About 50 people protested outside Whitehaven’s Brisbane office while Greenpeace’s threatened species protection unit entered the Leard State Forest in north-west NSW to document endangered species at the proposed site for the coalmine.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently toured drought stricken areas of north-west New South Wales and southern Queensland, promising that his government was close to finalising subsidies to farmers affected by the drought. The National Climate Centre says in the past two years “most of Queensland and New South Wales inland of the Great Dividing Range as well as much of South Australia have received less than 70% of their long-term average rainfall, with a substantial area having received less than half the average for the period.”
The federal Coalition government is conducting a review of Australia's Renewable Energy Target (RET), which aims to have 20% of Australia’s energy produced from renewables by 2020. The recent appointments of prominent climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry heavies make the review panel look more like a lynch mob for renewable energy. Dick Warburton, who will head the review, is on the public record denying climate science.
approaches its 1000th issue, more than 20 years after it first hit the streets, we will be looking back at some of the campaigns it has covered and its role as an alternative source of news. This week we look at climate change.
When Green Left Weekly first hit the streets in 1991, the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was the biggest climate-related worry for most people. Twenty-three years later, most people accept that climate change is, to quote Kevin Rudd, the biggest moral challenge of our generation.
A rupture of the TransCanada PipeLines (TCPL) gas line occurred in the middle of the night on January 25 near the village of Otterburne. A huge fireball erupted into the night sky and burned for many hours. The explosion tore a large crater in the ground. Several thousand homes in 10 small communities were left without gas heating during temperatures that dipped to minus 30C. It took days for full service to be restored. The pipeline brings gas from Alberta to the US across the Manitoba-Minnesota international border. It feeds parts of southern Manitoba along the way.
In this piece reprinted from Counterfire, Lindsay German looks at what the severe flooding in Britain tells us about the system. * * * 1) Climate change is a reality, and those who deny it are the equivalent of those who persisted in believing the earth was flat, against all scientific evidence. Sea levels are rising worldwide, weather is becoming more unpredictable and this is affecting food production, where people live and how they carry on their livelihoods.