Look After Your Planet
It seems that nearly every day we hear something about Global Warming. Australia’s drought is now the worst in our history. Intense storm cells lashing parts of South East Queensland, frequent Category 4 and 5 tropical storms worldwide, fierce bushfires, melting glaziers, flooding, the list goes on. With the ever increasing threat of global warming, we need to know how we can look after the planet as it is the only one we have. If we don’t make changes now, what hope will our young children have for their future on this planet?
Electricity causes 35 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse pollution which makes it the biggest single source of Australia’s anxiety
Here are a few tips on what we can do to help cool our planet.
o Switch off the TV, VCR, microwave and stereo at the power point instead of leaving them in stand-by power mode.
o Purchase appliances with the highest Energy Star rating.
o Run air-conditioning units only when needed and adjust the temperature control to 25 degrees.
o Defrost the freezer regularly and set the temperature to -18°C.
o Only use your dishwasher when it is full.
o Consider solar lighting for your porch and garden. Decorative solar garden lights are now available in inexpensive kits.
o Dry washing on a clothesline. Your clothes will smell fresh, look better and wear longer.
o Replace light bulbs with compact fluorescents. They provide just as much light and they use 75 per cent less power.
o Install movement sensors in outdoor areas, they provide security while saving money and energy.
o Turn off your hot water system when you go on holidays.
o Switch off the light when you leave the room.
Greenpeace believes the problem that we face is that the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) for energy, which is changing the climate. The fossil fuel industry is resisting change, funneling millions of dollars into advertising and campaigns to oppose global warming solutions.
What’s worse, our governments are listening to them!
Climate change is caused by human activity; it is the warming of our planet. It’s the worst environmental and economic problem we face today. Most scientists and governments around the world now agree that climate change will damage or destroy many natural ecosystems and human communities.
Our atmosphere is made up of a balanced blanket of gases. The gas blanket traps in the earth’s heat and sustains life on earth. This is known as the greenhouse effect. Industrial activities create more greenhouse gases, disrupting the natural balance and increasing greenhouse warming.
It’s like we’re putting a thicker blanket over the planet, causing it to overheat.
Our greenhouse gas pollution comes from burning coal and gas to make energy. Deforestation also releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. After that, changes in our climate may become rapid, unpredictable and irreversible.
Coal provides nearly 90 per cent of Australia’s electricity and is also destroying the environment. Coal use also causes significant health problems. Studies around the world show worrying incidences of asthma, lung diseases and cancers. We must stop our use of coal powered electricity! Clean, renewable energy is the solution to climate change and to a better planet.
Just as we rely on coal in Australia, we feed other countries in our region. We export about three times as much coal as we currently use. The Newcastle port has more coal leaving from there every day than our entire country uses.
The world relies on crude oil and it’s running out!
The world’s transportation and commercial industries rely heavily on oil. Unfortunately, in recent years, we’ve been consuming much more oil than we’ve been discovering. Some scientists are suggesting that the Earth may have reached its peak oil.
“Peak oil” is the point at which we consume more petroleum per year than we produce, and when peak oil happens worldwide, it will no longer be worth the time or money it takes to find new oil reserves. Some people believe there will be a war as the result of a battle to gain control over the world’s last oil reserves. Saudi Arabia possesses both the world’s largest oil reserves and produces the largest amount of the world’s oil. The Middle East has about 50 per cent of the known remaining world oil reserves.
The truth is, peak oil could affect you more than you realize. The average Australian consumes six and a half litres of oil every day, three quarters of that is being used for transportation.
Australia passed peak oil as a nation in 2000, and now imports 30% of all its oil. By 2010, it’s estimated that that figure will be closer to 50%.
It’s hard to say exactly what will happen once peak oil hits across the globe. Some scientists say that it will be the end of civilization as we know it, while others claim there will really be no difference at all due to recent advances in energy technology.
No one can say exactly when the world’s peak oil will occur, estimates say sometime around 2015. The United States Energy Information Administration believes the world supply of oil shale to be 2.6 trillion barrels of usable oil–that’s approximately 66 years worth of fuel at current consumption rates.
The problem is, by relying on oil shale and other such sources of petroleum, we’re merely delaying the problem. If we don’t investigate other types of energy, we’ll have the same problem we do now in half a century. Although we can stretch our supply for a while longer, we will eventually run out of oil.
There are currently efforts underway to reduce or eliminate oil consumption. Auto companies are developing hybrid cars that run partly off rechargeable batteries, and a new fuel called “biodiesel”
Individual actions make a difference, too. Try cutting down on petrol consumption by using public transportation or carpooling with friends and coworkers. When possible, ride a bike or walk to your destination–you’ll be keeping the planet and the economy healthy and also yourself too!
Australia is the owner of the world’s largest uranium reserves. Most of the energy in Australia is supplied by burning coal or petrol. Currently, 78 per cent of Australia’s water is boiled by coal. Coal, is a fossil fuel and creates greenhouse emissions. Nuclear energy is a way to boil water without producing greenhouse emissions.
All of the uranium mined in Australia is exported. Every country that buys uranium from Australia must sign an agreement that the uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes (like generating energy).
Why aren’t we using our own uranium?
A great debate has recently opened up in Parliament on Australia’s nuclear policy. John Howard has suggested an inquiry into Australia’s energy uses, including the proposal of going nuclear.
Those who are for a nuclear Australia argue that the introduction of nuclear energy is cleaner. It could possibly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the environment. Nuclear energy could also provide a cheaper solution to rising petrol prices and could create jobs for thousands of people.
Scientists say that only five per cent of emissions would be cut by 2050, which is well below the target number that has been set to reduce climate change. The opposition doesn’t forget the nuclear disaster of the Chernobyl power plant meltdown in 1986. They argue that such a disaster could happen again. Others worry that if Australia goes nuclear, our uranium supply could run out in less than 60 years.
Personally I am against the idea of Nuclear Power in Australia. It has some benefits but the overall risk of a nuclear disaster and the possibility of it falling into the wrong hands to make nuclear weapons are too much of a risk. There must be a better and safer solution.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster on April 25th -26th 1986 is the world’s worst nuclear power accident. It occurred at Chernobyl in the former USSR now know as Ukraine. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was located 80 miles north of Kiev. It had 4 reactors and whilst testing reactor number 4 numerous safety procedures were disregarded. At 1:23am a chain reaction in the reactor became out of control creating explosions and a fireball which blew off the reactor’s heavy steel and concrete lid.
The Chernobyl accident killed more than 30 people immediately, and as a result of the high radiation levels in the surrounding 20-mile radius, 135,000 people had to be evacuated.
Health Effects from the Chernobyl Disaster-
The five years (1981-1986) before the accident, the average thyroid cancer rate in young children aged between birth and 15 years old was 4-6 incidents per million. The incidents rose from 4-6 per million to 45 incidents per million between 1986 and 1997.
There have also been reports of increases of specific cancers in certain populations living in contaminated areas and among those who helped with the cleanup of the accident.
30 lives were lost during the accident or within a few months after it. Figures from the Ukraine Radiological Institute suggest that over 2,500 deaths were caused by the Chernobyl disaster.
There have been significant increases in psychological health disorders and incidence such as:
o Helplessness and despair leading to, social withdrawal and loss of hope for the future.
o Other disorders attributable to mental stress
The stress and trauma of the people involved during the evacuation and their concerns about their children’s health came from the result of the lack of public information available after the accident. There is much understandable skepticism over official statements as people were not told the truth until several years after the accident.
Following the accident 116,000 people had to be evacuated and between 1990 and 1995 an additional 210,000 people were resettled. A new town was named for the personnel of the Chernobyl power plant.
Villages had to be decontaminated and major work had to be carried out on infrastructure of water and gas. The closure of Reactor 4 and the “freeze” on construction of new reactors reduced the availability of electricity supplies.
Demographic indications in ‘contaminated’ areas suggest that these areas are experiencing a decline in birth rate. The work force has moved to uncontaminated areas resulting in a shortage of labor and professional staff.
The affected areas suffered major disruption to normal life and economic activity in agriculture and forestry production.
After the Chernobyl accident radioactive material was widely dispersed and was measured over a vast area. The effects have been felt over the whole of the northern hemisphere.
In some local ecosystems within a 10 km radius of the reactor lethal doses were reached particularly with trees and small mammals. However in 1989 the natural environment of these ecosystems began to recover but there is still the possibility of long term genetic effects.
With today’s ongoing risk of terrorist attacks worldwide and the growing threat of an attack in Australia, it seems going nuclear could be a disaster waiting to happen. Nuclear power does have its advantages but in an unstable world as we live in today I’m not sure it is a good idea. However we need to do something now to help fight the growing concerns of global warming and climate change. Our children deserve the rights for us to find a solution so they can live in stable and safe environment in the future.
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