Below is a list of only some signatures from international organisations and individuals endorsing the campaign No War on Venezuela. Full list on web page. Action plan for Melbourne organised by the Australian-Venezuelan Solidarity coalition on Saturday 23 February, 11am at Trades Hall.
40+ Cities Plan Activities During #23Feb
Weekend of International Actions
Old trees contribute more to carbon storage than previously thought in a new international study that included researchers from the University of Melbourne. The study demonstrated that tree growth rates increased continuously with size, and in some cases, large trees appeared to be adding the carbon mass equivalent of an entire smaller tree each year. The significance of this study is that big old trees are better at absorbing carbon from the atmosphere than previously thought. (Candobetter.net Editor: And that's not all that old tree do - see their more immediate effects on climate and weather here.)
The study was published in the journal Nature this week. Contributing author, Associate Professor Patrick Baker, an ARC Future Fellow at the Melbourne School of Land and Environment, University of Melbourne, said,
“Our research shatters the long-standing assumption that tree growth declines as individuals get older and larger. However, the rapid carbon absorption rate of individual large trees does not necessarily translate into a net increase in carbon storage for an entire forest.”
Coauthor, Dr Adrian Das, an ecologist at the U.S Geological Survey said, “Old trees, after all, can die and lose carbon back into the atmosphere as they decompose. But our findings suggest that while they are alive, large old trees play a disproportionately important role in a forest’s carbon dynamics. It is as if the star players on your favorite sports team were a bunch of 90-year-olds.”
Researchers compiled growth measurements of 673,046 trees belonging to 403 species from tropical, subtropical and temperate regions across six continents, calculating the mass growth rates for each species and analyzing the trends.
The study was a collaboration of 38 researchers from research universities, government agencies and non-governmental organizations from the Argentina Australia, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Panama, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“What makes these results so compelling is the sheer scale of the datasets that we had available to work with,” said Associate Professor Baker.
Associate Professor Baker and Will Morris a PhD student in the School of Botany were involved in providing and analysing data from the thousands of trees from Thailand.
These extraction costs include threats to human water supplies, which some believe could threaten civilisation and human survival in large US populations, including New York, increasing fuel required to extract more fuel from more difficult places, massive earth subsidence and drastic landscape change, destruction of farmland, poisoning of soil, disturbance of pastoral and agricultural production and, most strikingly, destruction of democracy and property rights. France has outlawed fracking for these reasons. 
I contacted Fawzi Aloulou, the specialist spokesman for the following EIA report with questions about this. I asked him, whether he had information about the amount of energy and the financial cost of extracting this natural gas from the shale? I put it to him that, as he would be aware, we have gone from an earlier situation where liquid petroleum gushed from the ground and gas was blown off into the atmosphere to one where great lengths have to be gone to to get an energy return on investment.
I wrote to him: "The EIA figures don't show the changes in the costs of extraction for crude and other liquids over time, nor for [fracking shale]." I added that candobetter.net would like to publish the EIA reported findings but we feel that they need more comment re the energy and financial cost side.
Dr Fawsi thanked me for my interest in the EIA's work but replied, "We don’t publish the financial cost of extracting natural gas from shale for a simple reason: cost keeps changing over time as function of depth of the shale, depletion rate and technology improvement."
To this I responded with, "Surely an annual report could average them out?"
Dr Fawsi replied, "That’s a good guess. However, our cost estimates are model-generated and we do not post them in public domain."
My further question as to where I might find an objective source on this major factor in energy production has so far received no answer. But I am interested to know that the EIA does model the problem. There is probably nothing more important to the American and global public likely to be affected by increasing environmental and social turmoil associated with trying to keep up petroleum-type resources to maintain economic growth in an era of dwindling traditional fuel source forms.
Below is Dr Fawsi's report. At this point in time no-one I know can say what the amount of gas produced would look like if these graphs also revealed and deducted the amount of gas and other resources that were used up to produce these apparently stunning surpluses. For more on these unmentioned factors have a look at our pages on fracking and coal-seam gas.
EIA report that North America leads the world in production of shale gas
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, LCI Energy Insight, Canada National Energy Board, and Facts Global Energy
Note: Canadian data uses "marketable production," which is comparable to dry production.
The United States and Canada are the only major producers of commercially viable natural gas from shale formations in the world, even though about a dozen other countries have conducted exploratory test wells, according to a joint U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)/Advanced Resources International (ARI) study released in June. China is the only nation outside of North America that has registered commercially viable production of shale gas, although the volumes contribute less than 1% of the total natural gas production in that country. In comparison, shale gas as a share of total natural gas production in 2012 was 39% in the United States and 15% in Canada.
Shale gas dry production in the United States averaged 25.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2012, while total dry production averaged 65.7 Bcf/d. In Canada, total dry natural gas production from the two major shale plays—the Muskwa-Otter Park shale formation in the Horn River Basin of northern British Columbia and the adjacent Montney Basin that spreads over British Columbia and Alberta—averaged 2.0 Bcf/d in 2012, while total Canadian production averaged 14.0 Bcf/d. Gross withdrawals from Horn River and Montney averaged 2.5 Bcf/d in 2012, and reached 2.8 Bcf/d by May 2013. The potential for higher production from these two plays is currently constrained by limited pipeline infrastructure.
Source: Canada National Energy Board (NEB)
Note: Graph depicts "raw" natural gas production, a measure used by the NEB that is comparable to gross withdrawals. Raw natural gas production is the volume of natural gas produced at the wellhead.
China was ranked as the largest holder of shale gas resources among the 41 countries assessed for technically recoverable shale resources in the study released by EIA/ARI this past June. The Chinese government has not officially reported on shale gas production, but some independent Chinese energy analysts have claimed commercial production of at least 0.003 Bcf/d of shale gas, mainly from the Sichuan Basin.
Map of China with EIA/ARI shale gas/oil assessment, as explained in the article text.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration and Advanced Resources International
Principal contributor: Aloulou Fawzi
 "In Gaslands it has been suggested that, if completely developed, the huge Marcellus shale formation in the United states, under the current very poorly regulated, chaotically individual and uncoordinated system of drilling, could permit as many as 400,000 new wells. This might endanger the supply of water to New York, which would be catastrophic."
 Articles on social, vital and environmental costs of fracking
 Whilst official pronouncements try to normalise fracking as inevitable in the United States and Canada, the French experience highlights the coercive and outlandish application of this technology. More debate is needed and for debate, organisations like the EIA should release more information about these costs.
"France says "No" to fracking based on US experience
France has just passed its anti-fracking law in parliament. The law rescinds rights previously granted and puts any schale-mining for gas on hold pending new and safer technologies. Source: JT, Edition du Mercredi 13 Avril 2011, http://jt.france2.fr/20h/
This parliamentary decision is yet more evidence that the Napoleonic system in France and Europe is far more democratic - in protecting peoples' rights and communal (and national) assets and vital resources - than the anglophone systems in their various forms in Britain and her current and ex-colonies. America, Canada, Australia are among the least democratic countries in the world, with vast and growing differences between the haves and the have-nots, in legal systems which cannibalise and destroy their own community, citizens and resources. The reason that these countries are not yet obviously reduced to the poverty of Haiti is that their citizens started out with more resources per capita. As commonwealth is transferred more and more into private hands in those systems, people who have to date been able to survive, will not survive. The growing numbers of homeless and hopelessly endebted are indicators of the social unsustainability of the current economic and legal systems in Australia, America and Canada. In France and the rest of Europe, it is virtually impossible for citizens to be left without shelter unless they voluntarily opt out - as some homeless do - albeit with every attempt made to shelter them each winter.
High on the list of reasons against fracking in France was the risk of contamination of water supply and its impact on agriculture and human health." Source: First published as /?q=node/2348#comment-6275
Injunction to prevent suffering to native animals fails in Australian World Heritage National Park
Councillor Katie Milne of Tweed Shire Council, NSW, failed in her attempt to prevent the staging of a 3 day long international car rally through Tweed and Kyogle Shire national parks, state forests, World Heritage areas, nature conservation areas, major koala colonies, core koala habitats and habitat where over 12 nationally-threatened species live. In September 2008, the Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett dubbed the area as the ‘Green Cauldron’, one of 8 national iconic landscapes.
On 27th August, 2009, in Milne v. Rally Australia Pty Ltd, Federal Court Justice Stone was assigned to hear the case in Sydney for 3 hours. The Judge had only just received the last of the reports an hour before the hearing and admitted she had not had time to read all the material.
Fastest case in the history of Tweed Shire?
“It was the fastest case in the history of Tweed Shire. The Judge was able to somehow determine the case in about 10 mins flat after we began," commented Cr Milne. "We didn’t even have a chance for all the issues to be heard. The rally has assigned 600 police for 5 days including training, but they couldn’t even assign a Judge for a proper full day trial to hear all the evidence."
She said, "We knew we were gone when the Judge said, 'Times up, you’ve got one more issue you can raise’.'"
"We had barely started. We had only just got past our argument when the judge dismissed both our ecologists’ reports."
Ecological expertise wasted
Ecologist Dr Stephen Ambrose was there to present his report which challenged Repco's assertion that there would be no significant impact on any nationally-listed threatened species. Dr Ambrose had presented a 12 page resume of his qualifications, his published papers, committees he had chaired and court cases he was involved with. He had supplied a huge dossier of issues including a comparative study and a raft of arguments refuting Dr Phillip’s methodology and many assumptions made. For instance, he claimed that there is a higher probability of mortality as animals actually frequent roadside verges.
Councillor Milne said it was frustrating that he had been available as a witness but the court wouldn’t interview him.
"Dr Ambrose was the key ecologist in the V8 Homebush Supercar case. He is a bird specialist and familiar with the problems a rally is likely to cause. There is a population 35-45 Black Breasted Button Quails near the Mebbin locality Byrill Creek stage of the rally route and it is believed that the loss of one or disruption to their breeding cycle could be fatal to the viability of the entire population."
She added that another ecologist, Mr Mark Graham, who also presented a damning report "had extensive and specific local experience of the area, having coincidently carried out a 3 month ground survey of the endangered Giant Barred Frogs on the Byrill Creek route. The spray of dust can settle on their eggs and larvae and totally destroy their breeding cycle."
Arcane-seeming technicalities defeated community’s try for justice
“The Judge said we had not presented the argument in the manner required by the Courts. It was our ecologist’s case that this was not possible. She made no attempt to ascertain the validity of the arguments with Dr Ambrose. The whole crux of the ecological case was not even argued. It was absolutely appalling” said Cr Milne.
She went on to say that Repco Rally Australia had employed Dr Stephen Phillips (Biolink Pty Ltd) to conduct an ecological report on the impacts on species living on the rally route in autumn. As a result many species that were not visible at that time were visible in spring, breeding season for many species. Had Dr Phillips found any significant impacts to any of the nationally-listed threatened species, the matter would need to be referred to the Minister for the Environment for assessment as these are matters of national environmental significance.
"In the first report released by Repco in April 2009, Dr Phillips actually did recommend that the rally be referred to Minister Peter Garrett. However Repco claimed in the Court that this was a mistaken release of a draft document. Dr Phillips was not in court to confirm or deny this." Cr Milne said that regardless of whether the document was a draft or not, Dr Phillips had actually stated that the rally should be referred to Minister Garrett up until July and therefore the community had believed this would happen. While Dr Phillips may have changed his mind in his July report, it shows that the matter was in contention and that a precautionary approach should have been taken. The matter of referral to the Minister should have been debated by the ecologists but never was. "It feels like we haven't even had a proper hearing and it feels extremely unjust," said Cr Milne.
Late timing issue a non-sequitur and not our fault
Cr Milne said “The late timing of filing for this injunction was being used as if it was something we were responsible for. The fact that the community has been asking the Environment Minister Garrett to make a decision on this right from the start, and that the Minister had failed to do so, did not seem to worry the Judge at all. Nor did the fact that the community was misled up until July by the Repco report and that a Development Application was also promised up until July, seem to worry the Judge.”
"When were we supposed to take an injunction?" she wondered. "We only had between July and August after the special legislation Motor Sports Bill 2009 was brought into force. The community have done everything in their power to seek a legal outcome including commissioning not one, but two, ecological reports. Minister Garrett has joined with the State government and local Council to ignore this community and this World Heritage environment completely."
She said, "Rally Australia's claims that 'this is going to be the most environmental friendly rally in the world' is a joke. How can this rally be 'environmentally friendly' when it needed to bypass State environmental laws to be held? Many of our environmental laws have had to be extinguished to force this otherwise illegal event through. This race will set a new environmental standard but it’s an absolutely appalling one, one that allows such extreme sports races to run between World heritage corridors and through National Parks and Conservation areas."
Non-profit organization well-provided for in legal counsel
Repco Rally had five lawyers present in court at a cost of $40,000 in three days. “They won on legal technicalities, not on issues”, said Councillor Milne. She added that she was surprised that a non profit organisation could afford such representation. "They have threatened that they will vigorously pursue costs. The costs order case is going to be rushed through as well, in less than a week for this Wednesday", she concluded.
This rally is intended to become a bi-annual event until 2027.
Not a good look for the Fédération internationale de l'automobile
These political and environmental impacts must also be doing great harm to La Fédération Internationale de l'automobile and the road safety and green reputation it promotes on its pages:
"Formula for the Environment: As the governing body of motor sport and the representative of more than 100 million consumers worldwide, the FIA has been actively putting the environment on the top of its dual agendas. Formula for the environment outlines the FIA’s environmental efforts, from proposals for global emission benchmarks by policy makers to forward thinking environmentally relevant initiatives in motor sport such as the introduction of energy recovery systems in Formula One, highlighting what the FIA is doing to reduce the impact of motoring on the environment." Source: http://www.fia.com/en-GB/mobility/policy/Pages/FIAPolicyCentre.aspx
Residents of the community are reportedly devastated.
One has written to candobetter: I am so sad!! Today I drove on most of the rally routes and saw so many beautiful animals, right by the road. Many kangaroos mostly, wedgetail eagles, low-flying little birds, lots of snakes, very sad looking cows and sheep and horses all looking at me as if to say 'please save me, take me away from here' .... the grief is so deep inside me right now....I am utterly inconsolable."
The making of a new law to disempower environmental laws and local government powers in order to hold the rally means that democracy has been extinguished in Tweed Shire. Environmental damage and loss of democracy always seem to go together. This is surely a matter which should concern judges all over the land.
How to make donations to court costs
Something just as bad could easily happen to a place you love, now that it has happened in Tweed Shire. Downsizing democracy is a pernicious trend in Australia. Australians need to fight these trends as hard as they can and prevent communities from being destroyed by financial costs. Perhaps there will be an appeal. People can make donations towards the $40,000 court costs. It has been suggested that if 200 people can donate $200 each the shire will be able to pay.
Bank details are:
No Rally Group
BSB 062 580
See also: Repco Rally route - the calm before the storm of 26 Aug 09, URGENT! Contact Peter Garrett re Injunction to stop Repco Rally of 29 Aug 09.