Dodgy reporting distorts data on new coal plants

Recent reports of 621 coal plants being constructed worldwide are wildly inaccurate, according to a recent Guardian article. What’s more, the amount of electricity produced by coal globally has fallen each year since 2013.

The figure, which came from a parliamentary assessment based on out-of-date and unreliable data, was then further distorted as it was misreported to refer to power stations, rather than coal-fired power units (smaller modules, several of which make up one power station).

A look at the most up-to-date figures from the well-respected Global Coal Plant Tracker database run by US-based CoalSwarm, shows that in July construction was only occurring at 300 coal plants worldwide; 183 new power stations and 117 extensions of existing plants.

On top of this, big coal players such as China and India are cancelling several planned construction efforts due to many plants currently running as low as 43% capacity. Whilst Australia decides whether or not to subsidise Adani’s controversial export coal mine in Queensland, many of India’s domestic plants are struggling, including those owned by Adani.

Global coal production has dropped every year since 2013. According to CoalSwarm’s director, Ted Nace:

“A distinction needs to be kept in mind between capacity and electrical output…Even though there are more power plants, the actual production of electricity from those plants ~ and likewise the amount of coal used worldwide ~ has fallen every year since 2013, with a small drop in 2014 and larger drops in 2015 and 2016.”

The Guardian seems skeptical about whether these more accurate and up to date figures will be widely reported, given the way that the false figures were propagated by the majority of the press and several pro-coal public figures.

However, for those willing to look at the facts, its clear that the world is beginning to say farewell to coal.

Re-post ∼ The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts in The Guardian

Land returned to Aboriginal Owners thanks to donation collaboration

A large area of land in north-west Tasmania has been returned to the local Aboriginal community thanks to a $325,000 donation from Graeme Wood, the founder of travel website Wotif. This donation, combined with funds from the Indigenous Land Corporation, the Bob Brown Foundation, the Tasmania Land Conservancy have enabled the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania (ALCT) to be purchased from Geoff King, whose family have farmed the land for over 100 years.

 

Two Aboriginal women, Bron and Luanna, reconnect with the land at Kings Run. Photo: Loic Le Gully

 

Mr King had expressed a desire for the land to be returned to its Indigenous Owners before his death. In recent years he and his wife had stopped running cattle on the land, which runs between Arthur River and Marrawah, and had instead focused on conservation management and ecotourism. This shift occurred after a visit from Nick Mooney, a wildlife biologist who pointed out that Kings Run was on the migratory route of the orange-bellied parrot. There are only 150-200 of these parrots left in the world.

 

“The parrot feeds on a number of species along the foreshore. I realised when my cattle came down here, one of the first things they did was go down to the foreshore and eat those plants.”

 

Kings Run also houses Indigenous burial sites, hut depressions and habitats for other threatened species, including the Tasmanian Devil and the wedge-tailed eagle.

Eddie Fry, Chair of the Indigenous Land Corporation, said that the land purchase will have lasting impact for Tasmanian Indigenous people.

 

“Acquiring Kings Run increases the Indigenous estate in Tasmania and provides the Aboriginal community access to what is land of significant cultural and heritage value,” Mr Fry said.

 

Chairman of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, Clyde Mansell, praised the collaboration that enabled the block to be purchased, hailing it as an example of what can be achieved when like-minded bodies work together to redress land dispossession.

Re-post ∼ Wotif founder’s donation seals the deal to return Kings Run to Aboriginal owners on ABC News.

NSW farmer compares widespread use of herbicides to ‘genocide’

A fifth generation NSW farmer, Charles Massy has always had an intimate relationship with the land he works. But his experience of the drought years, earning a PhD in human ecology as a mature student and listening to the wisdom of his Aboriginal friends has convinced him that the white man’s ‘mechanical mind’ understanding of natural systems is severely flawed. 

 

Farmer Charles Massy at Severn Park, the NSW property his family has farmed for five generations.

 

Massy is the author of Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth, in which he makes a poetic as well as scholarly case for a revolution in the way we think about the soil beneath our feet.

He links the widespread use of glyphosphate (Roundup) to a whole slew of autoimmune diseases and disorders such as Autism and ADHD, which he says are intimately linked to immune function and therefore gut health.

 

Glyphosphate is disrupting the balance of natural ecosystems according to Charles Massy.

 

Massy believes that healthy soil equals healthy, nutrient rich food, and he has therefore become a practitioner and vocal proponent of biodiverse planting and holistic grazing, which have transformed the ecosystems on his farm.

 

“If people ate truly nutrient-rich food out of healthy soil, you would slash the national health bill straight away. The big chemical companies and big food companies know exactly what they are doing. It is now causing millions of deaths – tell me why that is not genocide?”

 

But it’s not just the benefits to humans that interest Massy. He would like to see humans get out of the way of nature and let the ‘self-organising regulating system’ of the Earth recover equilibrium. For an example of how this can be done in the unique Australian landscape he points to pre-colonial times and the way Aboriginal people nurtured and nourished the land and lived in “one of the greatest ever sustainable partnerships between humankind and the ecosystems they occupied”.

When the soil is nurtured in this way, what emerges is:

“a burgeoning mass of life and activity that is 10-fold that above the ground; fungi bacteria, and other organisms have begun to create and sustain an entirely different, living absorbent soil structure; the very heart and essence of healthy farming and landscape function. The secret is to simply restore healthy landscape function and allow nature to do the rest.”

 

Repost ~ Farmer wants a revolution: ‘How is this not genocide?’ | The Guardian

The Social Progress Index: a GDP alternative for the 21st Century

The Social Progress Index has been developed to provide accurate and detailed data on fifty social and environmental outcomes, in an effort to improve upon traditional, purely economic, measures of success such as GDP. These fifty outcomes are grouped into three main ‘dimensions of social progress’: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.

 

The 2017 Index, which was released in June, shows Denmark as the country having the highest overall social progress, with Australia coming in joint 9th along with New Zealand.


The above graph of social progress relative to GDP shows that there is a lot of ‘noise’ around the trend line, meaning that statistically, GDP and social progress do not necessarily go hand in hand. This is particularly true once countries reach a certain level of GDP, where the curve begins to level out and further increases in GDP produce little or no improvement in wellbeing according to social indicators. This is why its creators believe that the Social Progress Index is important, because GDP as a measure leaves out so many factors which influence human wellbeing, such as environmental sustainability, freedom from discrimination and access to education.

 

 

Accurate data on how communities are performing in different areas gives leaders the ability to take a more strategic approach to improving quality of life by prioritizing their investments in areas of greatest need, just as having accurate measures of GDP helped the US government to lift itself out of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

 

Read more ~ The Social Progress Index website and The Social Progress Imperative website

Protein powder made from crickets off to a strong start

WA entrepreneur Paula Pownell has been given the go-ahead to start selling the crickets, grown by her business Grubs Up Australia, as food.


Although public interest and support for her project has been high, Paula expects her innovative ideas for processing the bugs, such as protein powder and bars, to go down better than whole crickets. This Perth Science Fair attendee seems to agree.

 

Eating bugs for the future here with Grubs Up Australia at Perth Science Festival! #GRUBSUP

Posted by Perth Science Festival on Friday, August 11, 2017

 

Several countries, such as Canada, America and Vietnam, have already adopted crickets as the food of the future due to the ease of producing them and their sustainable life cycle. Ms Pownall uses a vertical farming technique to save space and feeds her crickets on fruit and vegetable scraps, turning all of their manure into fertiliser.

“We go from hatching to harvest within six to eight weeks and within that time we have pretty much a zero waste system,” she said.

She hopes to gain interest from the fitness market for her products, due to the high protein content of crickets, claiming that they contain 69% protein, in comparison with most proteins on the market which are only contain around 30%. They also have 9 essential amino acids and are high in Folate and Vitamin B12.

 

Ms Pownall has an agricultural background and also plans to look into the potential of crickets to be used as animal feed.

Re-post ~ Edible crickets: WA farm gets green light to sell insects for food by Tyne Logan and Anthony Pancia for ABC News

Collaboration sees Aboriginal people back as custodians of their lands

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation are taking an active role in the management of six state and national parks and reserves which are within the Country which was returned to the Dja Dja Wurrung people in a recognition agreement in 2013.

The Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board, will manage the parks and reserves in partnership with Parks Victoria. They have appointed CSIRO to lead the creation of a Joint Management Plan, which will have Dja Dja Wurrung’s 20-year vision for people (Jaara) and country (Djanderk) at its centre.

 

A gathering of Dja Dja Wurrung people, at Hepburn Regional Park, one of the six parks being jointly managed by the Dhelkunya Dja Land Management Board.

 

Graham Atkinson, chairperson of the board, who was instrumental in negotiating recognition of traditional ownership with the state government says:

“Our Country Plan acknowledges that we must transmit our cultural heritage to younger generations. The Dja Dja Wurrung people have kept their connection to country alive through oral history, as well as through researching historical publications written at the time of European settlement.”

Dr Ro Hill, who will be leading the CSIRO team as they develop the joint management plan, recognises the importance of ‘weaving together’ traditional and scientific knowledge in order to benefit from both. He also believes that some of the ways of seeing the land enshrined in traditional knowledge, such as a focus on larger, more visible species, may be make the parks management strategy more accessible to the public. In the same vein, he notes that the holistic way of understanding how humans and the landscape are connected has influenced national parks management worldwide, as exemplified by Parks Victoria’s ‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ campaign.

Re-post ~ Returning good health to country and spirit by Mary-Lou Consdine in ECOS

Well-managed refugee resettlement can be win-win in rural areas

Refugee advocate Ataus Samad from Multicultural Queensland’s Advisory Council believes that, with the right support and incentives, refugees and migrant workers can be resettled into rural and regional areas, for the benefit of all concerned.

 

null

Sweet potato farmer Jean Ntakarutimana and his family, who are happily re-settled in Gracemere, QLD.

 

Jean Ntakarutimana and his parents on the farm with their new employer, Eric Coleman

 

This was certainly the case for Jean Ntakarutimana who struggled to find work and settle into Australian life after being transferred from a Tanzanian refugee camp as a teenager. Ntakarutimana now works on a sweet potato farm in central Queensland, a move which has been so successful that he has now brought his extended family to live and work with him.

 

“We’re happy to be here, the rent is cheap, everything is easier,” Mr Ntakarutimana said.

 

The arrangement has also brought benefits for Eric Coleman, the owner of the sweet potato farm, who enjoys the happy nature and hardworking ethos of the family.

 

“I think the best thing about Johnno and his dad is they come from an agricultural background, so it’s not actually foreign to them but I think the employment agencies are probably running them into places like Brisbane and trying to get them jobs in an environment that’s totally foreign.”

 

He would like to see employment agencies put more time and funding into providing English lessons, driver licences and tickets to make the prospect more attractive for potential employers.

 

Ataus Samad agrees:

 

“If we want to develop our regional and rural areas, we need people. We need to create an environment that will encourage people to settle,” he said.

 

By working closely with refugees and migrants, as well as with employers, Mr Samad has been able to successfully transition groups of refugees into rural life using an employment-first approach.

Re-post ~ Refugee resettlement in regional Australia brings success but needs more incentives by By Inga Stünzner on ABC News

Queensland and Northern Territory lead the way on racist place name changes

Both Queensland and the Northern Territory have made moves this month to review and change place names which could be offensive and hurtful to Aboriginal people.

 

Ten racist place names in northern Queensland will be re-named. Infographic: Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

 

In May Queensland’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines responded to community concerns about one place name by removing it from its databases. This sparked a departmental review which identified nine other place names which will be changed.

The Northern Territory has quickly followed suit, with NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner asking the place names committee to carry out a review and make changes where necessary. Minister Gunner has also publicly committed to more inclusive signage including Aboriginal place names as well as their frontier history versions.

 

“It’s very clear to me that we don’t have a proper inclusion of the first people in our very basic culture. And I want to work on that,” he said.

 

Jonathan Richards, who is an adjunct research fellow in history at the University of Queensland, believes that the argument for changing place names, as well as removing statues of pro-slavery figures, is clear cut. He believes that some people’s desire to maintain offensive historical names and monuments is partly due to a reluctance by Australians in general to acknowledge the truths of colonial history. He believes that telling the real stories behind names such as ‘Murder Creek’ and ‘Skull Hole’ is critically important.

 

“”I think certainly there are statues and place names that it’s fine to keep, but I think people really need to stop and think, ‘How would they feel?’ You wouldn’t for a minute have a statue of an enemy, yet Aboriginal people are constantly being told to get over it.”

 

University of Queensland race relations research fellow Fiona Barlow believes that the name changes may improve Aboriginal people’s health.

 

“There’s been multiple studies now that have shown that repeated exposure to everyday racism has negative effects on our health and wellbeing… Renaming these places… sends a symbolic message about what we value as Australians and it could have a genuine positive affect on health.”

 

Read more ~ Racist place names in Queensland’s north to be wiped off maps by Meghna Bali in ABC News

Read more ~ Northern Territory commits to changing racist place names by Stephanie Zillman in ABC News

Costa Rica setting the bar for sustainability

Costa Rica has broken its own record for sustainable energy production and had another UNESCO Biosphere Reserve declared within its borders, all before the end of July 2017. Phew!

Aiming to be the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021, Costa Ricans have set themselves high standards in sustainability. Over the last 30 years they have already achieved producing around 93% of their energy from sustainable sources such as wind, geothermal, solar and hydroelectric power. However, in the first six months of this year they upped that figure to an impressive 99%!

Adding to the year’s environmental achievements, The Savegre River, an area of great biodiversity in the Zona de los Santos, was declared as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Biosphere Reserves are areas dedicated to exploring how sustainable development might practically work by ‘combining core protected areas with zones where sustainable development is fostered by local dwellers and enterprises’. The naming of this new reserve means that Costa Rica is now home to a total of four Biosphere Reserves.

 

A pair of Cappuchin Monkeys laze happily in the Savegre River Biosphere Reserve. The area is home to 54% of the mammal species native to Costa Rica, 20% of the country’s flora and 59% of its birds. Image – Paradise Products

 

According to the Costa Rica Tourism board, tourism has had a huge part to play in encouraging the adoption of sustainable practices at all levels of society. The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) encourages entrepreneurs to think sustainably and rewards their efforts with a five-leaf system which can be displayed on their publicity materials, setting them apart from other businesses.

 

Re-post ~ Costa Rica Achieves Two New Records in Sustainability Effort | Market Watch

Read more ~ Costa Rica Achieves Two New Records in Sustainability Effort | Newswire Canada

Population concentration in major cities is more extreme in Australia than elsewhere

A new map graphically illustrates how Australia’s population is massively biased towards major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

“Australia has a weirdly large share of big cities for its size.”

 

In fact, an analysis carried out in the year 2000 showed that Australia had a greater share of urban population living in cities of over 750,000 people than any other major country, and that it has very few small cities for a country of its size.

This trend has continued, according to the latest census data, which shows that populations in major cities are still growing nearly twice as fast as elsewhere. This is despite the many potential benefits of life in smaller, regional cities such as cheaper house prices, less congested roads and greater life satisfaction.

The transport issue is something of a conundrum for city planners, as in most major Australian cities sufficient infrastructure was not put in place before development and high land prices made it a much more difficult proposition. Decision makers are now left wondering whether investment is worthwhile now, before things get even worse, or whether internet-led developments such as remote working and internet shopping will give people all the benefits of a city life wherever they are and mean the end of the big city boom in decades to come.

 

Re-post ~ Clever Aussie map raises serious questions by Jason Murphy on News.com.au