Senator Ricky Muir made a surprise appearance at the special screening of the movie of “Frackman” at Bairnsdale last night. The movie tells the story of one man’s battle – with a lot of friends – against the multi-national giant coal seam gas (CSG) companies. Senator Muir’s appearance was a surprise to almost everyone in the 150 plus audience. “I’m here to listen” said the Senator who told us how he had made contact with the NoCSG people in the Seaspray area. Senator Muir discussed the limited opportunities a senator in the Federal parliament had over the CSG question and mentioned the petition by Senator Lazarus in Queensland calling for a Royal Commission to look into the social effects of CSG mining. This petition, to be found on facebook, has already gathered 50,000 signatures and was aiming for 75,000. Muir also mentioned in passing that both he and Lazarus were part of what the Federal government calls a “feral’ Senate. The movie Frackman will be screened again in Lakes Entrance next month. The event was organised by GasfieldFree Bairnsdale. Contact Debbie Carruthers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Koonwarra & Nerrena Declaration Day! Saturday 6th June Koonwarra Hall. More details to follow soon Contact Margery: email@example.com
Gasfield Free Seaspray Yes2 Renewables Public Meeting 6.30pm Friday 12th June Seaspray Hall 6.30pm for dinner, 7pm meeting starts. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or Kerrin 0400 155 476
Gippsland Alliance meeting & old gas well tour Saturday 13th June 11am sharp. Meet at Seaspray Hall, Seaspray. Meeting, Lunch, followed by old gas well tour. RSVP a must to: email@example.com A hot lunch will be provided, this will cost $5 per person
Mercury contamination in the Gippsland Lakes has been in the news this week. An announcement by several Gippsland doctors stated that they had found mercury levels in locally caught fish well above WHO standards. These levels may be a health hazard and “Pregnant women and young children who eat fish regularly are at risk”, they said. The Doctors called for further studies and the monitoring of mercury levels in fish. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-19/fish-caught-in-gippsland-lakes-could-have-high-mercury-doctors/6401428
Three previous studies have warned of potentially hazardous amounts of mercury in the Lakes and urged further action. The last study to examine mercury levels in fish was done in 1997. These studies and commentary can be found on the home page of the Gippsland Environment Group (see links) What needs to be realised is that burning brown coal for power generation is one of the major sources of contamination. It is estimated that Hazelwood power station alone emits 435Kgs of mercury and mercury compounds per annum. http://nofibs.com.au/2015/04/17/why-is-it-so-hard-to-close-down-victorias-dirtiest-coal-power-stations-asks-takvera/
Almost all of this, along with that produced by the other stations, eventually finds its way into the Lakes system. The threat of contamination and the threat to the fishing and tourist industries is another strong reason why coal power in the Latrobe Valley should be phased out as quickly as possible.
A CSIRO article by Alistair Hobday and Jason Hartog entitled Sea temperatures and climate change in Victoria clearly illustrates that the ocean is warming in the Gippsland region. This warming is pronounced. They note that in “…eastern Victoria, offshore water temperatures are influenced by the East Australia Current (EAC), which flows south. This current does not penetrate into Bass Strait, as the Bass Strait flow is generally from west to east. The seasonal cycle of the EAC along the east coast is visible as warm water pulses pushing south in the summer, and then a retraction of warm water to the north in winter.”
The article identifies a 0.8C increase in our sea temperatures above the long term average. Whilst this “…doesn’t sound like much, it can have a real impact on Victoria’s marine ecosystems and fish distributions. Marine species have their own set of conditions they prefer to live in, like temperature and pH. Some biota will move (if they can) – also known as shifting their range – in search of these conditions if things get too hot at home. Others may adapt well to warming seas; while some will not survive in the changing conditions.”
An example of this is “…the Common Sydney Octopus (Octopus tetricus), usually found in NSW and southern Queensland seas, has been spotted in Victorian waters in recent years. It’s no wonder some marine animals are being spotted further south of their usual range: possibly looking for cooler waters?” A number of other species can be added to this example including four species of shark and a number of otherwise unidentified jellyfish species that are now found in the Gippsland Lakes. All this is just another example that shows that concerted action on climate change is needed now. The full article can be accessed here.
Gasfield Free Bairnsdale (GFB) have just held their second declaration of gasfield free districts including Broadlands, East Bairnsdale, Nicholson, Eagle Point and Newlands Arm. The declaration was held at the picnic shelter at Eagle Point. Representatives of the areas collected their gasfield free signs representing 98% and over of the surveyed landholders who stated they did not want any CSG or unconventional gas developments on their land. GFB co-ordinator Debbie Carruthers invited Ignite Energy to “go fly a kite” as did many of the participants. Speakers included Ross Scott of Gippsland Environment Group who spoke on the importance of a healthy Lakes system, Ursula Alquier of ‘Lock the Gate’ and East Gippsland Shire Mayor Peter Neale who offered words of encouragement. After the speeches and presentations a number of the participants posed for a photo besides Lake King. Over 100 attended. Well done everyone.
The Victorian Bioenergy Network, in partnership with Agribusiness Gippsland Inc. is organising a two day bioenergy event on the 18th and 19th June in Gippsland. This event will focus on activities and opportunities in eastern Victoria for bioenergy projects and related developments. This is of particular interest to local government authorities, regional businesses, community organisations and anyone interested in looking to reduce heating, cooling and power costs, utilise waste streams or explore options for developing renewable energy alternatives to mains electricity, LPG and briquettes.
Day 1 will be held in the Latrobe Valley and whilst the program is still being developed, we do have a number of speakers confirmed. They will be covering topics including the business case for bioenergy, grants and financing options, bioenergy technologies and their application in various biofuel production systems, and practical experiences and lessons learnt from developing recent bioenergy projects in eastern Victoria. Day 2 will be a field trip to visit a number of bioenergy installations in the Latrobe and Wellington Shires. A program and event booking details will be forthcoming in a couple of weeks, once most of the speakers and the field trip itinerary have been confirmed. Liz Hamilton Victorian Bioenergy Network firstname.lastname@example.org
The Forest Fire Severity & Biodiversity Forum held in Bairnsdale on 12 March drew a good crowd of about 70. The two speakers were Dr Chris Taylor from Melbourne University and Phil Ingamells of the Victorian Nation Parks Association (VNPA).
Dr Taylor’s studies centred on how Mountain Ash plots of various ages responded to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. The Mountain Ash is a fire sensitive species and because of the height of the forest it is difficult for a fire under most conditions to scorch the crown. Taylor’s studies found that regrowth stands of between 5 and 40 years old were highly susceptible to crown fires in extreme weather conditions. This has implications for the logging industry. Is logging increasing the intensity of severe fires? Taylor concluded by noting that the frequency of both severe fires and the disturbance of the bush of the bush had greatly increased and that management must adapt to the changed circumstances.
Phil Ingamells spoke of the role of the VNPA and emphasized that the two priorities of the Black Saturday Royal Commission were the preservation of life and property and secondly the preservation of the environment with which he and the VNPA concur. He questioned the value of the 5% target of control burning and pointed out that this has been achieved only once in the history of controlled burning. Having a set target meant that a lot of country that did not need burning was burnt and a lot of country was burnt more frequently than it should. The loss of hollow trees for a diversity of habitats was also emphasized. Ingamells made a number of suggestions with regards control burning and fire fighting including control burning close to communities and purchasing a number of “Elvis” fire fighting helicopters to station across the state. He finally mentioned the affect climate change was having on fire severity and frequency. “The affects of climate change” he stated “are perilous. There is more fire in the landscape now than there has been for the last 50,000 years”.
Lily D’Ambrosio MLA, Minister for Energy and Resources
Dear Ms D’Ambrosio,
I am writing to you with regards the parlous situation we find ourselves in with regards climate change and your portfolio. There are many reports that suggest we are currently heading for worst-case climate scenarios in Australia. e.g. See a recent report from the UK’s prestigious journal The Economist http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21642247-predictions-wide-brown-lands-future-get-ever-more-dire-droughts-and-flooding-rains?fsrc=scn/tw_ec/of_droughts_and_flooding_rains
It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot burn all our carbon resources without destroying the planet. This is known as the ‘Carbon Budget’ – a term you are no doubt familiar with. The US citizen first to raise the ‘Carbon Budget’ question was Bill McKibben. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719 His calculations have been refined and reproduced many times.
The upshot of this is we need to reduce our carbon emissions as quickly as possible. I suggest the following.
- Give up on onshore unconventional gas (CSG) completely. Just ban it.
- Abandon all projects aimed at further coal development.
- Turn Morwell and the Latrobe Valley from a depressed area into a growth centre by pouring funds into it. (e.g. I believe offshore wind generation employs twice as many workers as offshore oil & gas)When this has been achieved begin the process of closing down the brown coal generators and rehabilitating the open cut mines.
The time to start this process is now.
Lisa Neville Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water
Russell North MLA Morwell
Tim Bull MLA Gippsland East
Darren Chester, MHR Gippsland
May I respond to the letters of Neil Barraclough (BA 9/1) and J. McCracken (BA 12.1)
The science of Climate Change is basic physics. I suggest those interested consult Wikipedia on the ‘Greenhouse Effect’. For more detail try a) the French mathematician Fourier whose work discovered the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ about 1827 b) James Tyndall who identified carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane as the main greenhouse gases about 1859 and c) Svante Arrhenius who calculated in 1895 that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere would increase the average temperature of the earth six degrees. The latter calculation has since been refined.
A practical illustration of how the “Greenhouse Effect” works can be made by comparing the temperatures of a clear winter night with a cloudy one. The cloud acts as a blanket keeping the heat in and the land is much warmer. So too the greenhouse gases (including water vapour) keep the earth warmer – by Fourier’s calculations about 30 degrees.
Measurements of various phenomena (including atmospheric temperatures, ocean temperatures at various depths, sea level rise, ice melting) over the last hundred years all indicate that global warming is occurring as predicted. This is supported by a vast amount of data that has been compiled by weather bureaus and scientific organisations around the world and has been complemented by satellite data over the last 30 years. I recommend the Bureau of Meteorology report ‘State of the Climate 2014’ at http://www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate/
Against this overwhelming evidence McCracken and Barraclough quote a couple of climate change deniers in an attempt to bolster their very weak case. Barton is a retired geologist and not a climate scientist. Readers can find more about Marohasy and her fallacious attacks on Bureau of Meteorology statistics at http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-sceptics-conspiracy-australia-record-heat.html
McCracken distortions on the German wind energy are laughable. In December 2014 Germany provided a record 8.9% of their energy from wind power. For further details see http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/u-k-germany-smash-wind-power-records-17562
The longer we delay decisive action on climate change (the carbon tax was in some ways a token effort) the more likely many of the freedoms we cherish will be lost to an emergency wartime style government. For that alone future generations may well condemn the climate change deniers and their followers.
May I reply as briefly as I can to Neil Barraclough’s letter (BA 19/12) and make the following points:-
- I was disappointed (and still am) that an organisation calling itself the East Gippsland Wildfire Taskforce (EGWT) could have a day forum of presentations when the question and influence of climate change on catastrophic fires was “only touched on briefly”. Neil does not address this question in his letter.
- The article Neil criticised was written from one of my press releases issued in the middle of the state election campaign. My press release was not questioning or criticising the bona fides of the speakers at the forum but was critical of the approach of the EGWT forum in general.
- Best science (I am talking CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, NASA et al) clearly indicates climate change is making bushfires more frequent, fire seasons longer and that big fires are getting worse.
- Neil suggested that my knowledge may have been improved by a visit to some burnt areas. I did exactly that in 2003. My experiences and impressions, as well as Neil’s own, are “anecdotal accounts” of which he seemingly disapproves.
- It is unusual to provide footnotes in a brief press release – especially during a political campaign – and in my 14 press releases (see below) I only occasionally did so. These releases were used on at least 20 occasions in the media and no footnote was reproduced by any journalist as far as I am aware. At least half of these releases emphasized both the threat of heatwaves and catastrophic fires.
- Arguments about the phasing out of logging and plantations hinge on questions about carbon sinks and how we are going to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Neil also implies that there will be no work in the bush when logging is phased out whereas I insist there should be more. The critical question is that the jobs should be there first.
- Neil finishes his correspondence with a colourful quote from Voltaire with the implication that I believe in “absurdities” (climate change?) which I have been pushing for my own ends – whatever they may be. Perhaps Neil can tell us? It may be perceived that many at the EGWT forum have vested interests far above any that I may have.
- The science of climate change is founded on basic physics – the greenhouse effect – and the acceptance of this is the major difference between Neil (and possibly a substantial part of the EGWT forum) and myself.
- The pity of all this is that we agree that catastrophic fires are a huge problem and that a large number of actions are necessary to protect both life and property.