Environment

The Canadian province of Alberta is well known as a climate-destroying behemoth. The tar sands developments in its north are the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. Less well known are the ambitions of its neighbouring province, British Columbia. It shares similar fossil fuel reserves and ambitions as Alberta. Vast coal and natural gas reserves are being opened at breakneck speed. Construction is underway or planned for accompanying road, rail, pipeline and supertanker transport routes.
The world’s worst ever oil spill is also the biggest methane leak in human history, US government scientists have said. The US Geological Survey’s “flow team” has estimated between 4.5 billion to 9 billion cubic feet of natural gas have escaped from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig since it exploded in April, Associated Press said on June 19. John Kessler, an oceanographer at the Texas A&M University, told AP the leak was “the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history”. Scientists think methane makes up 40% to 70% of what is spilling from the damaged BP rig.
In July, Socialist Alliance election candidates will be taking a trip to the Northern Territory to personally witness conditions under the federal government's intervention into Aboriginal communities. SA youth candidates — and Resistance members — Jess Moore, Zane Alcorn and Ewan Saunders will join Indigenous activists, students, community groups and campaigners from across the country in Alice Springs for an important gathering of intervention-affected Aboriginal communities.
As climate change compels us to reduce carbon emissions, urban gardens that provide locally produced food are becoming an increasingly important model. The African Food Project is an urban, organic farm that grows traditional African vegetables for the African community around the outer western suburb of Blacktown.
Despite a promise before the last election, the Brumby state Labor government has introduced legislation to extend the urban growth boundary for Melbourne. Planning Amendment VC 67 expands Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the 284,000 houses the government expects will be needed if Melbourne’s population reaches 5 million before 2030. About 70 people from the Green Wedge Coalition, Protectors of Public Lands and Planning Backlash protested against these plans on June 22.
Organisers are expecting about 400 people to descend on Adelaide for the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference over July 4 – 8. The conference is held annually for students and activists involved in environment and social justice movements. Over the four days, workshops will be held on topics as diverse as climate change, guerrilla gardening, Indigenous rights, campaigning for renewable energy on campus and many more. SoS gives participants the confidence, practical skills and motivation needed to campaign for a cleaner and healthier Earth.
On June 25, federal trade minister Simon Crean signed a deal to export up to 20 million tonnes of dried brown coal to Vietnam. The deal was signed with ironically-named Victorian company Environmental Clean Technologies (ECT). Fifty people protested outside the venue in Southbank where the deal was signed, despite the rain and only a few hours notice of the event.
Newly installed Prime Minister Julia Gillard has offered a truce and fresh negotiations with the mining industry over the government's proposed Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). Watching the industry's advertising campaign, you'd think the RSPT spelt the end of civilisation as we know it. According to one BHP Billiton ad, the RSPT will mean “fewer projects, jobs and opportunities for our future generations”. The ad's title, above an all-Australian image of young blokes playing footy, reads: “Australia loves to compete, but the Super Tax could take us out of the game.”
On June 11 at the close of climate talks in Bonn, Germany, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer tried to put a positive spin on the outcome. “This all in all is a big step forward making much more possible in Cancun”, he said, referring to the next big climate conference that takes place in Mexico in November. However, big step or not, the conference outcomes kept the world sprinting headlong towards a climate catastrophe.
Attempts by Tahmoor mineworkers to negotiate with mining giant Xstrata have collapsed yet again after the company refused to budge during mediated talks in May. For 20 months, the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union (CFMEU), has been trying to negotiate an agreement.

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