Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Novel Coronna Virus Epidemic - update and mapping


According to the World Health Organisation Coronna Viruses (C0V) are: 

a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). 

A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. 

Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. 

Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness...

The current Novel Coronna Virus (COVID-19) was first reported on 31 December 2019.

Worldwide there have been between 64,518 confirmed cases* of novel coronavirus and 1,383 reported deaths. The fatality rate is currently 2.3%.

Although highly infectious it appears that relatively quick responses from public health authorities around the world is limiting its spread.

Only 586 cases of COVID-19 to date have been diagnosed outside the country of virus origin. Two deaths have been recorded.

There have been no deaths from this viral infection in Australia.

Australian Government Dept. of Health:

As at 06:00 hrs on 14 February 2020, we have confirmed 15 cases of novel coronavirus in Australia: 

5 in Queensland 
4 in New South Wales 
4 in Victoria 
2 in South Australia 

6 of the earlier cases have recovered. 

The others are in a stable condition.

All of these cases came into contact with the virus outside of Australia.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical MedicineThe Conversationmodelling suggests that the 2019-nCoV outbreak could peak in mid to late February if current trends continue.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine mapping at https://vac-lshtm.shinyapps.io/ncov_tracker/:

20 January 2020



14 February 2020
NOTE 

* According to the World Health Organisation China is now reporting clinically diagnosed cases in addition to laboratory-confirmed cases, which has increased the number of recorded COVID-19 infections in that country by 13,332 people as of 13 February 2020.


Tuesday, 11 February 2020

So how is News Corp faring in the NSW Northern Rivers region?


The total resident population of the NSW Northern Rivers region is est. 302,649 people.

News Corp dominates print media in the region and, given that this multinational is losing cross-platform readership in Australia, here are the Northern Rivers region numbers News Corp admits to in July 2019.

TOTAL NEWS CORP MONTHLY AUDIENCE REACH

The Northern Star (Lismore) – newspaper printed Monday to Sauturday – No print reach published, 178.6k digital & 140.4k mobile monthly reach self-reported. Average print readership per issue likely to be around 28,000.

The Daily Examiner (Grafton) – newspaper printed Monday to Saturday – No print reach published, 42.6k digital & 32.5k mobile monthly reach self-reported. Average print readership per issue likely to be less than 10,000.

The Lismore Echo – free weekly community newspaper home delivered – 45,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Ballina Shire Advocate – free weekly community newspaper home delivered – 27,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Richmond River Express-Examiner (Casino region) – weekly community newspaper – 20,000 monthly reach self-reported.

Coastal Views (Lower Clarence Valley) – free weekly community newspaper home deivered – 16,000 monthly reach self-reported.

By contrast non-News Corp news outlets, the free weekly community newspapers the Byron Shire Echo and Clarence Valley Independent self-report a reach of 53,000 & 13,500 per print issue respectively, with the Byron Shire Echo having a self-reported 128.6k monthly digital reach as part of the Echo NetDaily regional news website.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Renewable energy power generation continues to be predicted as cheaper than Morrison Government's favoured fossil fuel alternatives


Renew Economy, 6 February 2010:

An updated study on current and future generation costs by the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator confirms that wind, solar and storage technologies are by far the cheapest form of low carbon options for Australia, and are likely to dominate the global energy mix in coming decades.

The first report, GenCost 2018, identified that wind and solar were by far the cheapest forms of new generation technologies, clearly cheaper than coal, and even when combined with storage, remained easily the cheapest form low carbon electricity options.

A draft of the updated study, GenCost 2019-20, has been quietly posted on the AEMO website and confirms that wind and solar and storage remain the cheapest technologies, now and into the future, and much cheaper than the technologies promoted by the Australian government – gas, carbon capture, and nuclear.

The study is jointly funded by the CSIRO and AEMO, although CSIRO took carriage of the report, along with advisors Aurecon, who succeeded GHD which did the first version.

Its capital cost estimates – which assume continue cost reductions for solar, wind and dramatic falls for batteries, remain little changed from the 2018 version, although wind cost reductions are lower than expected last year…..

Read the full draft report:

GenCost 2019-20: preliminary results for stakeholder review Draft for review, Paul Graham, Jenny Hayward, James Foster and Lisa Havas December 2019.

That neither expert opinion nor the Australian Government's international obligations matter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his hard right cronies is demonstrated by the fact that they are prepared to spend up to $4 million on a feasibility study for a 1GW coal-fired power plant at Collinsville in Queensland, with coal presumably sourced from a nearby open-cut coal mine owned by Glencore.

Glencore stategically places most of its political donations with state governments of the day. 

Australian Newspaper Cross-Platform Audience Numbers for the 12 months to December 2019 are not good news for News Corp


This Roy Morgan survey of Cross-Platform Audiences covers the number of Australians who have read or accessed individual newspaper content via print, web or app from December 2018 to December 2019.

Print is calculated as net readership in an average 7 days and digital as net website visitation and app usage in an average 7 days. 

Of the 14 prominent mastheads in this cross-platform survey all had experienced readership decline in the 12 months to December 2019, with the exception of the Financial Review (up 14.1%), The Sydney Morning Herald (up 4.1%) and The Age (up 1.2%).


The worst decline in audience numbers occured in the News Corp mastheads.

Percentage Change In Cross-Platform Audience

Adelaide Advertiser  -4.4%

Canberra Times  -14.1% 
Courier-Mail  -1.4% 
Daily Telegraph  -15.5% 
Financial Review  14.1% 
Herald Sun  -7.7% 
Mercury  -3.5% 
Newcastle Herald  -5.3% 
Sunday Times  -4.0% 
Sydney Morning Herald  4.1% 
The Age  1.2% 
The Australian  -4.3%
The Saturday Paper  -7.6% 
West Australian  -6.6%

In the period December 2018 to December 2019 the print versions of all 14 mastheads experienced a degree of readership decline.

News Corp has reported a decline in global revenue and profits in the last quarter ending 31 December 2019, with revenue falling by 5.6% to $2.8 billion. 

According to Mumbrella, advertising revenue was down 5% across the business, with News Corp putting the blame largely on a “weakness in the print advertising market, primarily in Australia”.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Fact of the Day


There are est. 197 countries around the globe & of these Australia is the 14th highest emitter of greenhouse gases, is still the highest per capita emitter in the OECD & is the 5th biggest miner of fossil fuel carbon. 

For a developed country of less than 26 million people Australia has a carbon dioxide monthly average in the vicinity of 405.59 ppm in the atmosphere over its land mass and national waters - which is only 1.81ppm below the global monthly average produced by a world population of 7.8 billion people in 2018.

Due to the amount of forest currently unable to function as high level carbon sinks because of the 2019-20 bushfires, Australia is expected to add an additional 2 per cent to the atmospheric carbon dioxide ppm total in 2020.

[Source: The Australia Institute, July 2019, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Global Monitoring Division, December 2018, UK Met Office, January 2020  & countries-ofthe-world.com

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Australia's 2019-20 bushfire season expected to increase total global atmospheric greenhouse gases by est. 2 per cent this year


According to NOAA Climate.govThe global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2018 was 407.4 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

With the ability of Australia's east coast forests to act as carbon sinks severely impacted by bushfires and air pollutants released by these fires to date circumnavigating the earth, it was to be expected that the amount of carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere will rise sharply in 2020.

UK Met Office, media release, 24 January 2020:

A forecast of the atmospheric concentration of carbon-dioxide shows that 2020 will witness one of the largest annual rises in concentration since measurements began at Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, 1958.

During the year the atmospheric concentration of CO₂ is expected to peak above 417 parts per million in May, while the average for the year is forecast to be 414.2 ± 0.6ppm. This annual average represents a 2.74 ± 0.57 ppm rise on the average for 2019. While human-caused emissions cause the CO₂ rise in concentration, impacts of weather patterns on global ecosystems are predicted to increase the rise by 10% this year. Emissions from the recent Australian bushfires contribute up to one-fifth of this increase.

Professor Richard Betts MBE, of the Met Office Hadley Centre and University of Exeter, said: “Although the series of annual levels of CO₂ have always seen a year-on-year increase since 1958, driven by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, the rate of rise isn’t perfectly even because there are fluctuations in the response of ecosystem carbon sinks, especially tropical forests. Overall these are expected to be weaker than normal for a second year running.”

Weather patterns linked to year-by-year swings in Pacific Ocean temperatures are known to affect the uptake of carbon-dioxide by land ecosystems. In years with a warmer tropical Pacific, many regions become warmer and drier, which limits the ability of plants to grow and absorb CO₂ and increases the risk of wildfires which release further emissions. Along with other weather patterns and human-induced climate change, this has contributed to the recent hot, dry weather in Australia, which played a key role in the severity of the bushfires.

Professor Betts added: “The success of our previous forecasts has shown that the year-to-year variability in the rate of rise of CO₂ in the atmosphere is affected more by the strength of ecosystem carbon sinks and sources than year-to-year changes in human-induced emissions. Nevertheless, the anthropogenic emissions are still the overall driver of the long-term rise in concentrations.”

The CO₂ concentrations at Mauna Loa are measured by the Scripps Institution for Oceanography at UC San Diego and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Fire emissions are monitored by the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED).

The 2020 CO₂ forecast is available here.

As far as I can tell, it is likely that before 2020 draws to an end the atmosphere above the Australian land mass and coastal waters will probably contain at least est. 406.138 to 411 parts per million of carbon dioxide.

A carbon dioxide concentration of 400 parts per million is considered unsafe - a danger warning - and Morrison Government denialist-based climate change policy is making sure that we are now well and truly exceeding that figure.

The average surface temperatures over the Australian continent and its surrounding oceans have increased by nearly 1°C since the beginning of the 20th century.

This global rise saw land surface temperature in the NSW Northern rivers region rise by somewhere between 1°C and 1.4°C by 2014, with most of that warming occurring since 1950.

How hot will this region become in 2020?

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Who is Responsible for the Australian Bushfire Crisis?


A Rational Fear at https://youtu.be/aEOBu0r47YY

Given the last seven years is anyone surprised that Australia has slipped once again in the international perceived corruption rankings?



Transparency International's Corruption Transparency Index ranks 180 countries by the perceived levels of public sector corruption. 

In 2019 Australia was one of only three countries highlighted as examples of the 21 countries countries who scores had markedly declined between 2012 and 2019 - Australia dropping 8 points from 85 out of 100 in 2012 (when it was the 7th least corrupt nation) to 77 out of 100 in 2019. 

It should be noted that the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison federal Coalition government came to power in September 2013. 

Transparency International's 2019 report points the finger at Australia's poor performance with regard to rules around campaign financing, donations and grants.

Stating of counties such as Australia that; unfair and opaque political financing and undue influence in decisionmaking and lobbying by powerful corporate interest groups, result in stagnation or decline in control of corruption. [my highlighting]


It would appear that it is not just "the Twitter crazies" who are concerned about the possibly higher levels of corruption in Australian federal, state & local governments and the public service.

It comes as no surprise that the report rated New Zealand (along with Denmark) as the perceived least corrupt nation. Once again shaming its near neighbour and ally Australia by comparison.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Chromium-6: bushfire temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees can endanger human health long after the flames have gone out


"Fire-induced oxidation of Fe oxide-bound Cr(III) may represent a largely unexplored, yet globally-significant pathway for the natural formation of hazardous Cr(VI) in soil." [Burton E.D. el al, April 2019]

Echo NetDaily, 15 January 2020:

Scientists from Southern Cross University have made a startling discovery about the lethal threat of soils scorched by bushfires. 

The team, led by Professor Ed Burton, has found the naturally occurring metal chromium 3 can be converted by extreme bushfire heat into the highly toxic and cancerous chromium 6. 

Professor Ed Burton of Southern Cross Geoscience is looking at the levels of a toxic element in bushfire affected soil. 

Chromium 6 is the substance spotlighted by renowned American environmentalist Erin Brockovich, who blew the whistle on high concentrations in the water supply of her home town in southern California.

Professor Burton’s breakthrough research has confirmed bushfire temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees can endanger human health long after the flames have gone out. 

‘We’ve seen bushfires create conditions in the surface soil that transform the safe, naturally occurring chromium-3 into the toxic, cancer-causing chromium-6,’ Professor Burton said. 

‘Chromium-6 can cause lung cancer and leach into waterways.’ 

Professor Burton, an expert on the geochemistry and mineralogy of soils, sediments and groundwater systems, said frontline firefighters were immediately at risk but the contamination of water within catchment areas posed a wider threat. 

‘We know that firefighters have higher incidences of chromium in their urine and are more susceptible to cancer than other groups....

See the following peer-reviewed articles concerning the carcinogen Chromium-6:

Burton, E.D., Choppala, G., Karimian, N., Johnston, S.G. (2019) A new pathway for hexavalent chromium formation in soil: Fire-induced alterations of iron oxides. Environmental Pollution 247, 618-625; and 

Burton, E.D., Choppala, G., Vithana, C., Hockmann, K., Johnston, S.G. (2019) Chromium(VI) formation via heating of Cr(III)-Fe(III)-(oxy)hydroxides: A pathway for fire-induced soil pollution. Chemosphere 222, 440-444.

It should be noted that wildfires can also affect and possibly increase the mobility of other minerals naturally found in the soil. 

Initial research suggests that an example of this may be the carcinogen, arsenicAdditionally, past research suggests the potential of higher mercury content in freshwater fish after wildfire events.

Monday, 20 January 2020

As the black crows of the NSW logging industry begin to gather for an assault on remaining forests, this from Australian Labor Party Leader.......



THE HON ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
TERRI BUTLER MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER
MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH
ECOLOGICAL AUDIT NEEDED FOLLOWING NATIONAL DISASTER

The Morrison Government should convene a meeting of state and territory environment ministers and commence an Australian Natural Asset Audit, amid estimates that up to one billion animals have perished in the nation’s bushfire disaster.
The Government must also guarantee continued funding for the nation’s Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, which will cease to exist from July next year because it does not conform to the Government’s rewritten guidelines for CRCs, which favour commercial research.
Australians love the bush. Many of us live in the bush and our precious wildlife is deeply ingrained in Australian sense of identity.
With more than eight million hectares burned so far this bushfire season, we must turn to land management specialists and scientists to assess the scale of this ecological disaster and advise governments on a national approach to recovery efforts.
The Melbourne-based Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre is building disaster resilient communities across the country by bringing together all of Australia and New Zealand’s fire and emergency services authorities with leading experts across a range of scientific fields.
In 2013 the Labor Government provided $48 million to fund the centre for eight years through to June 2021 based on warnings by scientists that climate change would increase the severity and frequency of extreme weather events.
Despite its strong record of success and ongoing need for national collaboration over natural disasters, the centre is ineligible for further funding under the Morrison Government’s current CRC Guidelines.
This bushfire season, up to 26 lives have been lost and at least 1800 homes have been destroyed.
Our key focus must be to support affected communities, victims and families of those who have lost their lives.
But Australians have also been shocked by graphic and heart-rending images of dead and injured wildlife as well as farm stock.
It is critical that as part of the recovery we understand the impact of the tragedy on the National Estate, including our wildlife, and that we better understand how to reduce bushfires and protect our precious natural habitat.
As part of whole-of-government approach to rebuilding our communities, the Federal Government must act now to better protect Australia’s unique natural assets.
The bushfire emergency is a national crisis that requires a national response.
Labor is proposing:

1. An Australian Natural Asset Audit
  • The Morrison Government should immediately commence Australian Natural Asset Audit to understand the true impact that these devastating bushfires on our national icons and natural assets. The audit would assess the loss of our native animal and plants species that have been wiped out an unprecedented rate during the bushfire crisis engulfing Australia, and would assess habitat loss and impacts on environmental assets.
  • The Commonwealth should mobilise Australian scientists and land management professionals to immediately begin the mammoth task of assessing the ecological and biodiversity damage to Australia’s natural assets. The audit would enable the government to bring together Australia’s best ecologists and on the ground practitioners, including rangers from our national parks, local and state government environmental management staff, farmers and indigenous leaders from impacted areas.
  • The audit should be used to inform short, medium and long-term recovery efforts, including urgently supporting the Threatened Species Scientific Committee on immediate actions to increase the recovery, management and protection of Australia’s threatened species, including any new listings required, and to recommend proactive measures for the next bushfire crisis.
2. Start national recovery planning now: The Commonwealth should urgently convene a meeting of the environment ministerial council to commence recovery planning now
  • Immediately start recovery planning through the joint environment ministerial council with the states, to assess animal hospital services, demand and funding and short to medium-term recovery measures in key habitats for existing critically endangered species.
  • The Government should also take steps to activate a coordinated national group of Landcare volunteers in an Australia-wide effort to recover and regenerate our key natural assets and to protect the economic benefits and jobs that flow from our international reputation as a natural wonderland.
3. Immediately guarantee funding for the Cooperative Research Centre
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison must provide funding certainty to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.
  • The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has less than 18 months of funding left and is currently ineligible for renewed funding under the Morrison Government’s amended CRC Guidelines.
  • The Centre predicts a return on Commonwealth investment of 7:1 through reduced loss of life and injury, reducing government costs and reducing insurance costs.
For example, the town of Gracemere in Queensland was saved in 2018 as a result of science-based predictive capacity developed by the Centre.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Everytime someone says of Australia 'It's not climate change, it's drought and too much dry fuel in the forests' remember these basic numbers


The Guardian, 13 January 2020:

Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, with average temperatures 1.52C above the 1961-1990 average. Our second hottest year was 2013, followed by 2005, 2018 and 2017. 

New South Wales – one state hard hit by the bushfires – broke its record by a greater margin, with temperatures 1.95C above average, beating the previous record year, 2018, by 0.27C. 

At a very basic level, rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere change the earth’s radiation balance, allowing less heat to escape. 

Australia also had its driest ever year in 2019, with rainfall 40% lower than average, based on records going back to 1900. NSW also had its driest year....

There have been two other meteorological patterns that helped generate the extreme conditions Australia has been experiencing, and both these “modes of variability” were in “phases” that made conditions worse. 

The Indian Ocean dipole was in a “positive phase”, meaning the Indian Ocean off Australia’s north west was cooler than normal and the west of the ocean was warmer. 

Positive dipole events draw moisture away from Australia and tend to deliver less rainfall. 

But there is evidence that the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are also impacting the dipole and another phenomenon, known as the southern annular mode (SAM). 

A 2009 study found that positive dipole events “precondition” the south of the country for dangerous bushfire seasons and that these events were becoming more common. 

A 2018 study in the journal Nature Communications found the number of extreme positive dipole events goes up as climate heating continues. 

An animated history of average maximum temperatures and rainfall in Australia since 1910 can be found here at https://youtu.be/okmjuh0pNCU


The Australian Bureau of Meterology has produced two charts which display the stark transformation in temperature and precipitation across the continent over the past century.

The first chart shows the anomaly of mean temperature for each calendar year from 1910 to 2019, compared to the average over the standard reference period of 1961–1990.

The colours range from dark blue (more than 3 degrees Celsius below average), through blues and greens (below average), yellow and orange (above average), and then brown (more than 3C above average).





The Bureau has also produced a second chart showing rainfall in each year since 1900.

The colours range from dark red (lowest on record) to white (average) and dark blue (highest on record).


Monday, 6 January 2020

The Morrison Coalition Government has decided that the Australian Parliament will only sit for 72 days in 2020


In 2020 the Parliament of Australia will only sit for 72 out of the 365 days in the year.
A full-sized calendar can be downloaded here.

Parliament comes back from its 61 day annual recess on 4 February 2020 and both the Senate and the House of Representatives sit for 11 days that month, followed by 8 days in March, 7 days in May, 11 days in June, 7 days in August, 8 days in September, 8 days in October, 9 days in November and 3 days in December.

Senate Estimates will add an additional 4 days to the parliamentary workload.

Neither the Senate nor the House will sit at all in April and July.

The current Parliament has 132 bills to consider as a legacy of the very few days - 49 in all -  it sat in 2019.

In an increasingly complex world one wonders just how long federal governments can indulge in such limited calendars and democracy still function.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

The words of an Australian prime minister who still hasn't grasped the reality of climate change


As Australia literally burned from the mountains to the sea*, with thousands fleeing the flames after being told to evacuate ahead of extreme fire conditions expected on the east coast for Saturday, 4 January 2020 .

This was Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott John Morrison, speaking at a press conference on the afternoon of 2 January 2020:

“Let me be clear to the Australian people, our emissions reductions policies will both protect our environment and seek to reduce the risk and hazards we are seeing today. At the same time, it will seek to ensure the viability of people’s jobs and livelihoods, all around the country. 


“What we will do is ensure our policies remain sensible, that they don’t move towards either extreme, and stay focused on what Australians need for a vibrant and viable economy, as well as a vibrant and sustainable environment.”


NOTE

* According to Canadian field geophysicist and disaster researcher, Mika McKinnon, by Friday 2 January 2020 the combined size of burned areas across Australia was getting close to 40,000 sq km or 10 million acres - roughly the size of Switzerland. While the smoke plume was 5.5 million sq km or 1.3 billion acres - half the size of Europe.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

2019 Bushfire Season In Australia


How it was and is......


























































This is a random collection of images found on Twitter and Google Images of bushfires occurring in Australia between September and December 2019.