Environment

Put Rudd on a boat so that he can see what it feels like to be a refugee trying to run from imperial slaughter, on a leaky boat in shark-infested waters How can these arseholes be so heartless? — lock people up in bureaucratic darkness They say they're Christian, but where’s the compassion? They put Aboriginal people back on rations It’s the Lib-Lab; hypocrisy reigns supreme, they've got their redneck corporate Australian dream they want to make you think you're playing on the same team as them as they are skimming off your share of the cream
The US's worst-ever environmental disaster took yet another bad turn after British Petroleum's (BP) latest efforts to stop the torrent of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well failed. Public discontent is growing, with increasing calls for a government takeover of the operation and seizure of BP’s assets. The Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and releasing between 19.7 million and 43 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Dutch prosecutors fired the opening salvo on May 31 in a notorious case involving a Swiss-based oil trader which dumped hazardous waste in Ivory Coast, the British Morning Star said on June 1. The dumping was allegedly to save itself the paltry sum of €400,000 (about A$576,000). The article said prosecutor Luuk Boogert accused oil trader Trafigura AG and local authorities of putting “self-interest above people’s health and environment” at the criminal trial in Amsterdam. The ship had docked at Amsterdam en-route to Ivory Coast.
Community group Save Our Rail held a lively picket outside a 700-strong meeting of the anti-rail lobby Fix Our City (FOC) at Newcastle Town Hall on June 3. FOC is a business and developer lobby group whose explicit aim is to have the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) “urban renewal report” implemented. The HDC report’s main proposal is to cut the Newcastle at Wickham station. Save Our Rail drew 150 people to the counter-rally. It had the support of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, which brought several large union banners.
The Rudd ALP government was elected on a promise to take serious action on climate change. Yet it hasn’t acted and Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions — already the developed world’s worst per person — are on the rise again. In late May, the Department of Climate Change announced emissions had risen in the December 2009 quarter, rebounding from a dip caused by the global economic crisis. Most of the rise came from the energy sector, said the May 28 Sydney Morning Herald.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has banned its members from working in uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle, AAP said on May 31. The union says uranium is the new asbestos in the workplace. The ban will apply to ETU members in Queensland and the Northern Territory and breaching it could lead to expulsion, said ETU Qld secretary Peter Simpson.
The most serious controversy that has emerged in the climate movement this year is probably about the role of natural gas in a transition to a zero-emissions society. The national climate summit in March did not debate gas, but decisions taken there have influenced the debate. A decision of that summit was to campaign to “replace Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power station, Hazelwood, with clean energy by 2012”.
In recent weeks, the big mining companies have spent millions on propaganda against plans to make them pay more tax. But the results of a June 1 Newspoll showed they have hardly made a dent on public opinion. Both big parties are losing ground, the poll said. Labor’s primary vote dropped two points, to 35%. The Coalition went down by the same margin, from 43% to 41%. But the bombshell was the record Greens vote — up four points to 16%. This is not a new trend. Support for the Greens has risen steadily over the past decade.
At the G20 Economic Forum in Pittsburgh in September, President Barack Obama said his administration would combat climate change by phasing out the US government’s grandiose subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. But a report released on April 13 by Synapse Energy Economics (SEE) said Obama hadn’t followed through on his promise to cut dirty energy handouts.
Israel faces unprecedented pressure to abandon its official policy of “ambiguity” regarding its possession of nuclear weapons. Israel’s equivocal stance on its atomic status was shattered by reports on May 24 that it offered to sell nuclear-armed Jericho missiles to South Africa's apartheid regime in 1975. The revelations are deeply embarrassing to Israel given its long-standing opposition to signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has argued instead that it is a “responsible power” that would never misuse nuclear weapons technologies if it acquired them.

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