Environment

Hugo Chavez on climate change: Rich countries must pay

By Shua Garfield

“We are destroying our planet. We need to realise that and we need to act”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations in his September 24 speech. “The effects of this climate change are now visible … These are scientific facts. There are … studies by NASA [showing] a 0.8 degree increase in temperature in the last 30 years. The last 2 decades of the 20th century were the hottest in hundreds of years and also the melting of the ice caps continues to increase.”

BHP Billiton: The big polluter

By Alex Loverh

Environment and social justice campaigners will be confronting top executives of BHP Billiton, the largest mining conglomerate in the world, at their AGM scheduled to occur in Brisbane on November 26. The campaigners will be focussing on BHP Billiton’s abysmal record in the areas of Indigenous rights, environmental sustainability and climate change.

Solar power plant falls victim to profit motive

By Shua Garfield

Australia has just experienced its hottest August on record. During that month, some parts of New South Wales experienced fierce bushfires over a month before the “normal” start of the bushfire season. In the face of this climate chaos, it might be hoped that there would be some good news about Australian government action to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. Unfortunately, Direct Action is unable to provide that.

Climate change: Rich nations put profits before global agreement

By Shua Garfield

“If we continue at this rate, we’re not going to make it.” That was the verdict of Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at the end of “informal consultations” held last month in the German city of Bonn to try to resolve issues complicating agreement on a new international treaty to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Uranium: Labor approves another toxic mine

By Shua Garfield

On July 14, federal environment minister Peter Garrett approved the construction of the Four Mile uranium mine, 550 km north of Adelaide. Along with the three uranium mines currently in operation — Olympic Dam and Beverley in South Australia and Ranger on the Northern Territories — and the Honeymoon mine now under construction in SA, Four Mile will bring Australia’s total number of uranium mines to five.

How Venezuela fights the environmental crisis

By Zoe Kenny and Shua Garfield

The corporate media’s recent focus on the global economic crisis has all but eclipsed a much greater crisis — global climate change and the general destruction of the world’s environment. But if the environment “goes bust”, the implications for humanity and millions of plant and animal species are well known and horrifying. Unfortunately, the response of the developed capitalist nations, including Australia, has been far from adequate.

Amazon peoples fight oil companies

By Zoe Kenny

While the UN was busy promoting its latest carbon trading scams and encouraging people to attend “celebrations” for World Environment Day, the people in the town of Bagua in northern Peru were fighting a life-and-death struggle to save their environment from corporate plunder — a struggle that achieved a partial victory.

Niger delta: Indigenous people fight Western oil companies

By Shua Garfield

Seventy million cubic metres — equivalent to at least one quarter of the UK’s natural gas consumption — is burnt every day in gas flaring in the oil wells of the Niger River delta. Gas flaring in Nigeria accounts for roughly half of sub-Saharan Africa’s industrial greenhouse gas emissions. The gas flares burn 24 hours a day, sometimes for years, releasing sulphur and nitrogen dioxides, benzene, xylene and dioxins. For the 30 million inhabitants of the delta, this means skin and respiratory ailments, low birth weight and deformed babies and the death of plants and wildlife. Particles from the flares cover everything nearby with a fine layer of soot. The rain that falls almost every day is highly acidic.

Rudd's carbon reduction fraud

By Shua Garfield

The Australian government is playing “Russian roulette with the climate system, with most of the chambers loaded”, according to CSIRO climatologist James Risbey. In an April 8 submission to the Senate select committee on climate policy, Risbey outlined the disastrous consequences if the government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets for its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) — 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 60% below by 2050 — were emulated by the rest of the world.

'Clean' coal scam undermines climate action

By Shua Garfield

On April 23, the Senate select committee on climate policy heard what should have been taken as a striking ultimatum: To avoid catastrophic climate change, there must be an immediate moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants, and existing coal-fired plants need to be shut within 20 years. Yet less than two weeks after CSIRO climatologist James Risbey explained this to the Senate committee, the government announced more than $2 billion extra assistance to the coal industry. Most of this money was directed towards trying to achieve “clean coal”.