73% of Australians want Indigenous recognition in constitution – study | Australia news | The Guardian

Reposted from the Guardian:

The vast majority of Australians believe that the constitution should be changed to recognise Indigenous people, and remove clauses that discriminate on the basis of race, a study by the Australian National University found.

The telephone survey of more than 1,200 people aimed to record public opinion on injustice and social disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders.

It found that 82% of Australians supported the removal of clauses in the constitution that discriminate on race.

And 73%, or nearly three out of four Australians believe that Indigenous Australians deserve special reference in the preamble of the founding document.

Tanya Hosch, the campaign director of Recognise, which advocates on the recognition of Indigenous Australians, said that “the strong levels of support from Australians reflect what we have heard in our own extensive community engagement across the country in the past few years.

“Australians want to fix this lack of recognition and want to fix the race discrimination in our highest legal document.”

The prime minister, Tony Abbott, has indicated that he would hold a referendum on the issue in 2017, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being counted in the census.

“It’s important to get this right. Yes, we want to do it. But we want to get it right and it’s more important to get it right than to rush it,” Abbott told reporters on Friday.

“We’ve got the joint parliamentary committee, chaired by Ken Wyatt, deputy chaired by Nova Peris and that committee will be reporting in the next couple of months and that will give us a strong foundation on which to build.”

Constitutional recognition has strong bipartisan support.

via 73% of Australians want Indigenous recognition in constitution – study | Australia news | The Guardian.

Pope: Earth’s water must be protected, available to everyone – The Washington Post

The Washington Post: VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is encouraging the world to ensure its water supplies are protected and available to all.

Francis noted the United Nations was marking Sunday as an occasion to draw attention to water’s importance.

He quoted St. Francis of Assisi, who inspired his choice of name as pope, in praising water for its usefulness and purity.

Francis intends to detail his views on the environment soon in an encyclical, a Vatican position paper reserved for important matters.

Speaking to the public in St. Peter’s Square, the pope called water “the most essential element for life” and said “humanity’s future depends on our ability to care for it and share it.”

He encouraged governments to ensure that water supplies are protected and accessible to all.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

via Pope: Earth’s water must be protected, available to everyone – The Washington Post.

Diálogo Chino | Brazil blocks State Grid plans to employ 11,000 Chinese on mega dam project

The Brazilian government is refusing to sanction a proposal by Chinese state-owned power company State Grid to send 11,000 of its employees to Brazil to work on the construction of a 2,100-kilometer power transmission line beginning at the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant. Local labor laws forbid companies from hiring foreign workers as long as qualified Brazilians are available.

The dispute is the latest episode in the ongoing drama of the controversial megaproject that has been implicated in an unprecedented corruption scandal and is expected to force the displacement of over 20,000 indigenous people.

Belo Monte‘s so-called linhão or “big line”, one of the longest in the country, will require the installation of 4,500 towers and 25,000 kilometers of cabling, requiring investment of around US$1.6 billion. But work cannot begin until the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) has issued an environmental permit.

With Brazil in the throes of a record-breaking drought, stagnant growth and potential energy crisis, job creation and energy capacity are sensitive issues but this chapter is expected to be a short one for State Grid as the first step in the process for beginning work is already underway – IBAMA has authorized public consultations on the additional line.

“This industrial policy was designed to create jobs in Brazil,” Professor Nivalde de Castro, coordinator of the Electric Sector Study Group at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro told Diálogo Chino. But China’s entry into Brazil’s energy sector  is not necessarily a threat.

According to Castro there is still a lot of room for new companies – especially Chinese ones – to participate in Brazil’s energy market, as long as they do so indirectly: “Chinese companies are strongly encouraged to open subsidiaries” Castro added, explaining that by doing so, China can provide finance for the sector without harming local industry and Brazil can keep imports down.

The new transmission line tenders scheduled for this year alone will offer opportunities for almost US$7 billion in investments.

But according to Castro, the question is whether China will remain interested in investing if it has to comply with Brazil’s industrial and financial policy and operate through subsidiaries.

Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Eduardo Braga, has discussed plans to speed up overdue energy infrastructure projects – including power plants and transmission lines. While the specific projects under consideration are still unknown, it is likely that the linhão will be a priority given the centrality of Belo Monte to Brazil’s energy expansion plans.

At 11,233 MW of installed capacity, Belo Monte will be the second largest hydropower plant in Brazil, and a considerable part of its output will be transmitted to Brazil’s industrial Southeast, which accounts for almost 70% of the country’s energy consumption.

Ultra High Voltage technology will deliver 800 kilovolts (kV) of direct current to a system that interconnects almost the entire country and extends for almost 117,000 kilometers, according to data from the National Electric System Operator (ONS).

State Grid paid US$1bn to purchase seven transmission lines from Plena Transmissoras (a joint venture of Spanish and Brazilian companies), and also bid successfully for the main transmission system through a partnership with Eletrobras, the largest energy company in Brazil – which, like its Chinese peer, is controlled by the federal government.

The IE Belo Monte consortium is composed of State Grid (51%) and two Eletrobras subsidiaries: Furnas (24.5%) and Eletronorte (24.5%). At the bidding, the consortium asked for annual revenues of around US$140 million. Under the rules of transmission line bids in Brazil, bids compete against each other to offer the lowest cost to the national grid.

State Grid’s chairman of the board, Liu Zhenya, had stated that Brazil and China have some similarities in their interconnected energy systems with power supply sometimes extending more than 2,000 kilometers away from the country’s load centers. This, he said at the bidding event, can generate demand for the construction of long-distance distribution channels with high capacity and low levels of energy loss.

State Grid has already faced problems in Brazil with the construction of the transmission line that will connect to Teles Pires, a 1,820 MW hydroelectric plant whose construction is nearing completion. The plant, located in the Amazon rainforest, will not be operational until a 1,005-kilometer transmission line connecting it to the national grid is finished. But the line has been delayed because of problems acquiring an environmental permit as it would interfere with important indigenous and archaeological sites, according to the daily newspaper O Estado de São Paulo.

via Diálogo Chino | Brazil blocks State Grid plans to employ 11,000 Chinese on mega dam project.

Government bows to oil industry with new tailings rules – Vue Weekly

Imagine, for a moment, that you happen to be in charge of a jurisdiction that claims to have world-class environmental standards and regulations. As part of that rhetoric and reputation, imagine that six years ago you put in place a set of regulations that you claimed set strict and enforceable guidelines and rules for dealing with, and eventually eliminating, oilsands tailings. Now, imagine that not one single oilsands operation was able to meet the requirements and expectations of that policy. In fact, instead of shrinking, tailings lakes became even more of a problem. What would you do?

Would you make a strong statement about how environmental policies are only as good as the enforcement mechanisms behind them, and then proceed to fine and punish the industry to the extent of the law?

Would you state unequivocally that the government is very concerned about the growth and expansion of toxic tailings lakes, and that if companies cannot develop and deploy technology for safely dealing with those tailings, they will simply be forbidden from producing more?

If you were Alberta, you would simply state that the goals contained in the old legislation were clearly too ambitious, refuse to fine or penalize anyone, and ultimately scrap the legislation. You would then set about writing new regulations that made things much easier for the oilsands industry, wouldn’t really require them to do anything about tailings in the near future and contained no meaningful enforcement provisions.

That is exactly what the government of Alberta did last week with the introduction of its new Tailings Management Framework. After having suspended Directive 74, the 2009 regulation that set hard targets for dealing with tailings in Alberta with clearly articulated penalties for non-compliance, the government needed to come up with something to replace it.

What they have done, however, is essentially acceded to everything the industry wanted to see in tailings regulation. Under the new framework, companies are given a discretionary three to 10-year period at the beginning of their life during which they can accumulate tailings without limit. At that point, the total volume of tailings they are allowed is capped. In other words, the mines are allowed to keep their tailings volume constant after their initial accumulation. Then the mines have until 10 years after they close to fully reclaim all of their tailings. In other words, under the new framework, we will not see any significant reclamation for decades to come.

The framework also gives the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) some flexibility in dealing with mines that surpass their allowed tailings volume, suggesting that the AER will be allowed to permit a certain percentage deviation in volume, while not actually detailing what that percentage will be.

Perhaps most concerning, however, is the lack of specificity in the Framework around enforcement. What will happen to mines that surpass the allowed volume of tailings? The regulation speaks of a compliance levy, but  it does not say how that levy will be calculated and provides no guarantee that it will be enough to serve as a deterrent. There needs to be some guarantee that the cost of the levy will be higher than the cost of investing in cleaning up tailings, or industry will simply choose to pay the levy and tailiings will continue to grow.

Connected to that is the concern that mines do not have to completely reclaim their tailings until 10 years after they close. Mines can have a life span of 50 years—that’s a long time to wait for meaningful reclamation.

via Government bows to oil industry with new tailings rules – Vue Weekly.

Rage against Rhodes heritage shifts up a gear – University World News

“After a week of student protest, the University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor has given the clearest indication yet that he believes the controversial statue of Cecil John Rhodes should be moved from its “pride of place, at the focal point of the campus”. But this will do little to quell the spread of protests against the lack of transformation to other campuses, write Reitumetse L Pitso, Shaun Smillie and Poppy Louw for Times Live.

Using the hashtag #Rhodes So White, students in Grahamstown also staged a demonstration last week about the slow pace of transformation and lack of inclusiveness at Rhodes University. The chairman of the Higher Education Transformation Network, Lucky Thekisho, said racial equality was an issue at other universities. He singled out the North West and Stellenbosch universities.

UCT students began protesting 10 days ago after political science student Chumani Maxwele threw a bucket of faeces over the statue of Rhodes. Maxwele has told The Times he wants to end the division between black and white students at UCT and to eradicate the eurocentricity he claims is still rampant at the institution. University of Cape Town, or UCT, vice-chancellor Max Price has said he is in favour of the relocation of the statue, which he described as a symbol of UCT’s colonial past, and announced intensified student participation in the process in the next four weeks.”

Full report on the Times Live site

via Rage against Rhodes heritage shifts up a gear – University World News.

Roots Up’s Dew Collector greenhouse provides veggies and water in Ethiopia Roots Up Greenhouse – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

The dome-like greenhouse is activated when temperatures increase in the noon sun, causing water to evaporate and rise. With the humidity contained, the top point of the structure catches this evaporation before it’s able to escape into the atmosphere. As night falls, the greenhouse top is then opened by pulling the ropes attached to the latch, exposing the collected droplets to cool air.

Those droplets then cool and condense, falling into a storage cistern. The collected water can then be used for watering plants, or as safe drinking water. This system can be repeated each day, allowing plants to thrive while excess moisture is captured and saved for future use.

Related: The Globe (Hedron) Is a Geodesic Greenhouse for Urban Farmers

Instead of solely being used as a greenhouse, this can also be used as a rainwater collector, ensuring that precious raindrops are saved and stored, instead of absorbing into the ground.

Roots Up plans to launch its first series of Dew Collector greenhouses in Northern Ethiopia, in conjunction with the University of Gondar. The Dew Collector is just one part of the company‘s mission to help create a self-reliant farming community in Northern Ethiopia.

+ Roots Up

via Roots Up’s Dew Collector greenhouse provides veggies and water in Ethiopia Roots Up Greenhouse – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

How Local Communities Are Dismantling Corporate Rule | EnergyFanatics.com

In the following three short videos, Peak Moment TV interviews community rights educator Paul Cienfuegos about effective ways to prevent big corporations from destroying local family farms and our freedom using the power of Natural Law and civil law.

The power of Natural Law is something that I have been promoting for the past few months, because it is playing a very important role for helping us restore our freedom (without violent revolutions) and preventing corporations from destroying our local communities. To learn more about the power of Natural Law, read my empowering article titled Why You Need to Study Natural Law.

If you are sick and tired of the government and corporations destroying your local family farms, local stores, local communities, and the environment, I highly recommend watching the three videos in this article, so that you can see how local communities throughout the USA are standing up against corporate fascism.

Here is a summary of the interview from YouTube.com:

via How Local Communities Are Dismantling Corporate Rule | EnergyFanatics.com.

PIK PR: Global warming brings more snow to Antarctica – makere@ualberta.ca – University of Alberta Mail

Press Release, Potsdam Institute

Although it sounds paradoxical, rising temperatures might result in more snowfall in Antarctica. Each degree of regional warming could increase snowfall on the ice continent by about 5 percent, an international team of scientists led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research now quantified. Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, their work builds on high-quality ice-core data and fundamental laws of physics captured in global and regional climate model simulations. The results provide a missing link for future projections of Antarctica’s critical contribution to sea-level rise. However, the increase in snowfall will not save Antarctica from losing ice, since a lot of the added ice is transported out into the ocean by its own weight.

“Warmer air transports more moisture and hence produces more precipitation – in cold Antarctica this takes the form of snowfall,” lead author Katja Frieler explains. “We have now pulled a number of various lines of evidence together and find a very consistent result: Temperature increase means more snowfall on Antarctica,” says Frieler. “For every degree of regional warming, snowfall increases by about 5 percent.”

To narrow down future snowfall on Antarctica to a robust estimate, the scientists from Potsdam collaborated with colleagues in the USA and the Netherlands. “Ice-cores drilled in different parts of Antarctica provide data that can help us understand the future,” says Peter U. Clark from the Oregon State University, USA. “Information about the snowfall spanning the large temperature change during the last deglaciation 21,000 to 10,000 years ago tells us what we can expect during the next century.” The researchers combined the ice-core data with simulations of the Earth’s climate history and comprehensive future projections by different climate models, and were able to pin down temperature and accumulation changes in warming Antarctica.

Double paradox: Warming brings more snowfall, more snowfall enhances ice loss

via PIK PR: Global warming brings more snow to Antarctica – makere@ualberta.ca – University of Alberta Mail.

Canadian government pushing First Nations to give up land rights for oil and gas profits | Martin Lukacs | Environment | The Guardian

Canadian government pushing First Nations to give up land rights for oil and gas profits | Martin Lukacs | Environment | The Guardian.

Our Renewable Future Post Carbon Institute

Or, What I’ve Learned in 12 Years Writing about Energy

(7000 words, about 25 minutes reading time)

Folks who pay attention to energy and climate issues are regularly treated to two competing depictions of society’s energy options.* On one hand, the fossil fuel industry claims that its products deliver unique economic benefits, and that giving up coal, oil, and natural gas in favor of renewable energy sources like solar and wind will entail sacrifice and suffering (this gives a flavor of their argument). Saving the climate may not be worth the trouble, they say, unless we can find affordable ways to capture and sequester carbon as we continue burning fossil fuels.

On the other hand, at least some renewable energy proponents tell us there is plenty of wind and sun, the fuel is free, and the only thing standing between us and a climate-protected world of plentiful, sustainable, “green” energy, jobs, and economic growth is the political clout of the coal, oil, and gas industries (here is a taste of that line of thought).

via Our Renewable Future Post Carbon Institute.