Category Archives: Environment

Monsanto pinged in Roundup cancer trial

    In the first of many pending lawsuits to go to trial, a jury in San Francisco concluded on Aug. 10 that the plaintiff had developed cancer from exposure to Roundup, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide, and ordered the company to pay US$289 million in damages.

    The plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, had used Roundup in his job as groundskeeper in a California school district. He later developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages to cover pain, suffering and medical bills due to negligence by Monsanto, plus an additional $250 million in punitive damages.

Continue reading Monsanto pinged in Roundup cancer trial

A world drowning in plastic

A recent cover story in the New Scientist has the odd title Fixing planet plastic: How we’ll really solve our waste problem (pay-walled). Odd because the article tells us there is no perfect solution except avoidance, and that plastic is so useful that if we didn’t have it we would have to invent it.

The article tells us:

    the early 20th century, humanity has produced an estimated 8300 million tonnes of the stuff. Around three-quarters has been thrown away, and 80 per cent of that has drifted into the environment or gone into landfill. Eight million tonnes a year end up in the ocean – 5 trillion pieces and counting.

Continue reading A world drowning in plastic

Adani casts a long shadow over Batman

Bill Shorten probably knows Labor can’t win the byelection in the Melbourne seat Batman while supporting the far-away Adani coal mining project at Carmichael in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland. So he looks set to oppose the mine.

However, Queensland LNP senators Matt Canavan and Ian Macdonald and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry have invited Shorten to come to Townsville to explain his position there, and ultimately that is what he must do. Continue reading Adani casts a long shadow over Batman

Turnbull future proofs the Reef!

Malcolm Turnbull has announced a $60 million package to rescue the Great Barrier Reef. If you believe him!

Here are two headlines, the first from an article from last year by scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science:

The second is from the New Scientist (probably pay-walled):

Continue reading Turnbull future proofs the Reef!

Wivenhoe legal sharks start to rip and tear

This year is shaping earily like 2010-2011. There was heavy rain around South East Queensland late in 2010, followed by a flood of the Brisbane River, backing up the Bremer River into Ipswich, so both cities suffered significant inundation and flood damage. A Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry was convened, and over 500 pages later came to the conclusion that the flood engineers had acted inappropriately and in breach of the Flood Manual, setting up the conditions for a class action. Three of the four engineers were recommended to be referred to Crime and Misconduct Commission.

In this post I mainly want to link to three comprehensive posts at the time at Larvatus Prodeo and summarize what I treated at length there. I think, modestly, they are essential reading if you want to understand what happened. The class action lawyers certainly have not, and are spruiking complete rubbish to the media. Continue reading Wivenhoe legal sharks start to rip and tear

Cherry picking electricity prices in Qld election

It’s the season for cherry picking on electricity prices as an election is called in Queensland. This can happen because no-one, not journalists, not ABC radio hosts, and unfortunately not ‘experts’, reads Queensland Government media releases. The offending politicians from the opposition LNP are getting a free ride, with statements like ‘Prices increased 70% under Labor’ (Tim Nichols on TV) and, ‘We will put downward pressure on electricity prices’ without saying how.

I’ve assembled a fair bit of information in two posts – Queensland powers up for a warm summer and Electricity bills – Queensland acts because it can. In this post I’ll summarise what I think has happened, and then mention some of the cherry-picked claims being made. There is some new information in the post. Also there is a particular problem with Steve Austin on Mornings on local ABC radio. I don’t mind the bloke, normally, but on electricity he’s lost the plot.

I’ve provided some links here, but there are many more in the earlier posts. Continue reading Cherry picking electricity prices in Qld election

Where will we be in 250 million years time?

A bit longer than 250 million years is when we had the Great Dying, the Permian–Triassic extinction event, when up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct. A mere 65 million years ago saw the extinction of the dinosaurs and the dawn of the Cainozoic Era. From a screenshot of this YouTube, this is how the continents were placed around the globe:

Continue reading Where will we be in 250 million years time?

Adani – a mirage that will dissolve into mist?

The Adani board has given the nod to the $16.5 billion Carmichael projects which would generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, with pre-construction works starting in the September quarter of 2017.

Yet there are some cautionary voices:

Continue reading Adani – a mirage that will dissolve into mist?

Snakes alive

For something a bit different, for many years our neighborhood has had a carpet python that visited the back yards from time to time, where it cleaned up any vermin and then moved onto the next house. At over two metres it was sizeable – we know it has devoured a possum or two. Recently when it appeared in a yard nearby, hanging about in a small tree, we thought it might be dead after it stayed motionless for a couple of days:

Continue reading Snakes alive

Murray Darling Basin perspective

Back in November 2010 I did a post on Climate change and the Murray Darling Basin at a time when a plan for the Basin was proposed, but not yet settled. The post still gets a steady trickle of visitors.

The Murray Darling Basin Plan was passed into law in November 2012, when Julia Gillard was prime minister, and Tony Burke the minister responsible. There has been a recent kerfuffle, when Barnaby Joyce said an extra 450 GL of water probably would not be forthcoming. The reaction from SA premier Jay Weatherall and his ministers, and Senator Nick Xenophon seemed to imply the South Australia would be left high and dry. Turns out that’s not really the case. Continue reading Murray Darling Basin perspective

Can we survive the 21st century?

Stephen Hawkins thinks we will probably go extinct on this planet if we don’t find a new one within 1000 years. Science writer extraordinaire Julian Cribb wonders whether we will make it past 2100.

His book Surviving the 21st Century: Humanity’s Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them poses the ten existential challenges facing Homo sapiens, and answers each one. It is a book of solutions, severally and collectively. Continue reading Can we survive the 21st century?