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September, 2019

Flu and pregnancy clinic share same roof

The NSW Opposition has accused the state government of potentially harming pregnant women, by locating a swine flu clinic next door to an ante-natal unit at a Sydney hospital.

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Nurses at Bankstown Hospital in Sydney’s west have spoken out about the location of the clinic, which has seen patients with swine flu symptoms sharing the same waiting rooms as pregnant women.

Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell says the Bankstown hospital’s arrangements fly in the face of the government’s own swine flu advice concerning pregnant women, who are particularly susceptible to the virus.

Both the NSW and federal governments, and health authorities, have warned pregnant women to try to avoid public places, for fear they may contract the virulent influenza strain.

Only this week an unborn child in Queensland was killed by the virus, when a 36-week pregnant 19-year-old woman lost her unborn baby because of swine flu complications.

“Pregnant women, according to everyone from the health department to the government, are at greater risk of influenza generally and swine flu in particular given what is happening in their bodies,” Mr O’Farrell told Macquarie Radio yesterday.

“This is an absurdity and it flies in the face of all the warnings, all the alleged protocols that (Premier) Nathan Rees and (Health Minister) John Della Bosca say exist.

“What we want the state government to do is to say how many other hospitals are engaging in similar, unsafe and reckless at risk.”

Cricketers get flu scare

Meanwhile Australia’s Ashes stars suffered a swine flu scare after one of the journalists covering Ricky Ponting’s squad was diagnosed with symptoms similiar to the illness currently sweeping across England.

There have been an estimated 100,000 new cases of swine flu reported in England since last week and 840 patients are in hospital with the virus, so Cricket Australia were quick to act when News Limited reporter Ben Dorries found he may have been infected.

Dorries became ill during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s this week and a British doctor suggested during a telephone consultation that he could have swine flu, although that has not been officially confirmed.

He has been asked to stay away from the team for the next three days but Cricket Australia said that no member of the squad had shown any symptoms of swine flu.

Dorries has not been staying in the team’s hotel over the past 10 days and his main contact with players would have been at press conferences.

He was prescribed Tamiflu and has since remained in London while the Australians travelled to Northampton for this week’s tour match.

A statement issued by Cricket Australia said: “Australian team medical staff have asked that Ben quarantine himself away from the Australian team and other cricketing media for the next three days.

“These measures are being taken as a precautionary step. There is no indication that anybody associated with the Australian team has the same symptoms.”

At a glance: How nuclear waste is stored

In an interview from Melbourne University’s Upclose podcast, Mr Sevior said the Scandinavians, the Nordic countries have a very well developed series of proposals for handling their waste.

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“A nuclear power plant requires around 30 tonnes of fuel per year. At the end of this period of time, at the end of one year it is what’s called spent nuclear fuel and is highly radioactive.

“So what happens then is it’s placed into cooling ponds and it’|s allowed to cool for five years. In this first period of time a lot of the radioactivity dies away till it’s less than 1/10 of what it was when it first was emitted.

“Subsequently, it is placed in either dry storage, then the proposal is to place it into long term geologic storage.

“Now the long time geologic storage developed by the Nordic countries, involves a number of different stages.

“So first stage, is you take the nuclear fuel, and you place it inside a cast iron insert.

“Take the cast iron insert and place it inside a copper canister. You take the copper canister and you place it inside benonite clay.

“And then you take the whole assembly and bury it 500 metres under ground. So the idea is to develop a series of multiple barriers in case something goes wrong with one.

“The next one will succeed in containing the waste. Now each of these barriers are separately designed to be stable for a long period of time.

“For example the copper canister, the innermost or the second most barrier to the waste has been observed to not corrode over a very long time period of time, so for example copper and brass canons from Roman times found at the bottom of the Mediterranean Ocean, have been found to not corrode over a 2,000 year period.

“So you can extrapolate that and say if you put copper in an aqueous environment and remove all of the oxygen, it basically doesn!|t corrode. So what you do then with the benonite clay is arrange that scenario.

“The benonite clay when it absorbs water, ground water, when buried deep underground, swells and expels all of the oxygen.

“So you can actually provide this anaerobic environment, this oxygen for the environment to keep the copper from corroding.

“In addition the benonite clay itself is a substantial barrier should the copper corrode. benonite clays have been observed to contain organic products like pieces of trees for over 500,000 years later, so the piece of tree is still there 500,000 years later.

“Finally you place this thing 500 metres underground in granite rock. The bacteria you find in this granite rock has been observed to retain the fission products, the radioactivity products, that might leap from the benonite clay.

Nuclear waste problem ‘still unresolved’

David Noonan, Nuclear free campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation is against nuclear power

“All the concerns with nuclear power plants and nuclear waste are all unresolved as they have been in the past”, he told SBS.

The issues of waste management, inherent risks of weapons, proliferation and terrorism are all increasing in the world now.”

“No country has a disposal site for high level nuclear waste. Countries that claim to be making some progress — whether that’s Sweden or others in northern Europe — are totally unrepresentative of the nuclear industry.

“They may hold 3-4 per cent of nuclear material, nuclear reactors and nuclear output, but with this public relations claim that nuclear has a role in the future, they are looking to expand nuclear into the developing world, and they will expose those communities to the high level nuclear risks that the west has been unable to resolve,” Mr Noonan said.

“It’s over 50 years into the nuclear experiment and none has demonstrated the long term isolation of this nuclear waste, no one has been able to deliver a community consensus on whetter that may be done.

At a glance: Coastal erosion & Australia

The Australian governments could be given the power to force people in coastal areas to move from their land due to climate change, a report released in late October said.

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FULL REPORT: Managing our Coastal Zone in a Changing Climate: the Time to Act is Now

A report into the effects of climate change on the coastal regions was issued by the House of Representative’s Standing Committee on Climate Change, Water, Environment and the Arts.

The 18 month inquiry said that rising sea levels, more frequent storms, cyclones and floods along the coastline are putting beach front properties at risk.

As a result the inquiry has canvassed the option of forced retreats with the “the possibility of a government instrument that prohibits continued occupation of the land”.

Queensland is noted as the most at risk as rising sea levels will potentially affect billions of dollars of beachfront housing.

The report does not go into whether landholders would be fully compensated for the forced retreats and, if so, who would pay.

Another option raised in the report is forcing coastal residents to pay a regular levy to compensate those amongst them who have to move due to climate change.

It concluded that action to combat the effects of climate change on the coast was urgently needed, as was national leadership.

It is estimated that 80 per cent Australians live near the coast.

What is coastal erosion?

Coastal erosion is the permanent loss of land along the shoreline.

The coast is constantly adjusting to changes in wave and tide processes and sediment supply, so it is important to distinguish between short-term changes in the coast and long-term coastal erosion.

Short-term shoreline change

Short-term shoreline changes do not constitute coastal erosion.

There changes occur over periods of days to several years. It is most obvious during storms when high wave energy actively removes sand from beaches.

During storms waves reach a backshore area and erode sand from it. The important function of this backshore is to act as sand reservoir during storms. In the following months normal weather and wave patterns may cause sand to be replaced on beaches.

Long-term coastal erosion

Long-term coastal erosion occurs over years to decades. The varying coastline is observed to gradually move landward.

This recession of the shoreline represents long-term erosion.

For the past two decades sea level rise has been singled out as a likely cause of erosion throughout the Pacific, the Australian Bureau of Metereology says.

But while rising sea level is one possible factor, climatic variability may also be a significant cause of coastal erosion.

Currently interannual changes in weather patterns can alter the wind, wave and sea level patterns on islands throughout the Pacific.

Natural causes of erosion

*Changes in wave climate such as an increase in wave height, change in the angle of wave approach or increased frequency of high magnitude waves.

*Reduction in the amount of sediment delivered to the coast from reef.

*Rising sea level.

Human-induced causes of erosion

*Sand extraction from beaches that reduces the sand volume of the coast.

*Coral mining.

*Insertion of structures such as seawalls which locally alter wave processes and change sediment transport patterns.

*Removal of mangroves.

US believers going green for Lent

From giving up their cars to abandoning their Facebook pages, many US Christians are being called on to help reduce global warming and turn their backs on Internet distractions over Lent.

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“It\’s an insult to God, it\’s a sin to spoil the environment, to hurt creation,” said Episcopalian pastor Reverend Sally Bingham, who is coordinating ‘The Regeneration Project,’ an interfaith group of some 4,000 congregations looking for a religious response to global warming.

‘Green’ lent

During Lent, which began this year on February 25 and will end on April 11 the day before Easter, Christians are called to observe sacrifice and penance marking the time Jesus endured temptation when he wandered for 40 days in the desert.

The idea of a “green” Lent was launched last year by two British Anglican bishops, who called for a “carbon fast,” Bingham told AFP.

“We sent an email to the 30,000 people on our mailing list and we suggested tips to try to be as environmentally friendly as you can be,” she said.

Top tips for being green

Among the tips: giving up your car, turning down the heat or buying local.

“This year, I gave up meat. Last year, I turned off my heat. I had to wear a ski parka inside my house. My children would not visit, they thought I\’d gone crazy,” Bingham said.

Another Catholic group, the St Paul Newman Center in Fresno, California, is organizing a “Lent program on global warming.”

“Lent is a time we focus on how we can really connect to God\’s presence in our life and do something that is sacrificial. For us, it\’s a look at how we care for the environment while sacrificing some comforts for ourselves,” said Mary Hetherington, who helps teach the program.

The courses promote a “low-carbon diet” to reduce carbon emissions by 5,000 pounds (2,268 kilograms) in 40 days.

Among the lessons: dry your clothes on a clothesline instead of in a dryer, thus saving the equivalent of 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of carbon emissions.

“Try a media fast,” suggests The Regeneration Project. “It can be very rewarding to turn off TV, computers and radios a few nights a week and sit down to a board game with your family.”

Detox from the digital world

An Italian bishop in Modena has called for giving up texting during Lent in order to “detoxify from the virtual world and become one again.”

Across American universities, students are also giving up social networking websites like Facebook.

“The fundamental idea is to say if something is a distraction from prayer and fasting then to the extent possible, it should be given up,” explained Paul Griffiths, a professor in Catholic theology at Duke Divinity School.

“It\’s not a sin, it\’s a distraction,” he told AFP, adding that cyber asceticism is part of the traditions of the Catholic church, even though the Vatican has a YouTube channel and a website in eight languages.

The online discussion group “Give up Facebook for Lent” gives tips on how to avoid going online without missing virtual visits by “friends” on the 75 million-strong social networking website.

Nola Bozeman, a 42-year-old housewife in Apex, North Carolina, used to log on to Facebook every morning.

“It was becoming an obsession,” she acknowledged. But she has now decided to deprive herself of the Internet.

“I thought if I spent half the amount of time I spend on Facebook in prayer or service, it would draw me closer to God.”

Arnie\’s Youth Corps will keep California green

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the creation of a youth environmental corps tasked with protecting California\’s verdant ecology, while training for future employment in the emerging ‘green economy.

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At least 1,000 young Californians in the program, aged 16 to 24, will be paid with funds from President Barack Obama\’s recently-approved federal stimulus plan, Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

“President Obama and I share similar priorities right now when it comes to helping the economy rebound and creating a greener California and America,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

Green jobs for youth ‘at risk’

“In California we will utilize federal economic stimulus funds and public-private partnerships to help stimulate our economy while initiating actions to improve our environment,” said Schwarzenegger, who stressed that the jobs are targeted toward youth considered “at-risk” of failing academically, foundering in the work place or getting into trouble with the law.

“Green jobs are exactly what our economy and environment need right now — and the California Green Corps targets that need, while helping at-risk young adults realize a brighter future,” the governor said.

The program will consist of a minimum of 10 regional Green Corps throughout California — at least one regional in each of California\’s nine economic regions.

The program, which gets off the ground as a 20-month pilot program, makes use of at least 10 million dollars in federal economic stimulus funds from the US Department of Labor and an additional 10 million from public-private partnerships, the governor said.