The Anzacs

March 2019

It's no secret Australia has been doing badly with far too many extinctions of wildlife, but there's an upside: there are two solutions. We must do both of them.

We modern Australians must embody the spirit of the Anzacs in our care of the Australian environment, that is, fight for it. Even though they perhaps never knew the vocabulary for environmental, evolution and ecosystems, most of them had a strong feeling for those concepts from personal experience in their lives. 
We must also work to understand and translate into our own cultural concepts the bond of the Indigenous people before us to this country, its features and wildlife and their deep commitment to protect and save Australia. Because that's what has been so badly lacking in the current NLP government's management of environmental issues and it's what we need to do. 
This country is so incredibly uniquely beautiful. It's a stunning concept, a great continent isolated for all time in the so called south of the world, with all its wildlife found nowhere else on the globe and its beautiful ecosystems and environment all intact! That of course is what it used to be like.
The complexity of detailed beauty of our unique iconic wildlife in ecosystems and environments is unimaginable. It's been developed that way by evolution working over millennia making every detail interdependent on every other detail a million times over. We're not used to thinking of it this way, but those wilderness areas sustain us just as they did the Indigenous people before us . We love them. I know this because I love them and need them myself. They belong to us the Australian people and they must be saved in all their detailed beauty and wonder. We love them. That's much of what makes us Australian.
This is what the ANZACs fought for. It's what they remembered and longed for from overseas. Although they didn't know the vocabulary for it that we have 
now days most of them knew the environment from personal experience and if we read the letters and writing written overseas and sent home it's easy to trace the key concepts there. Even the mention of small things, eg the smell of eucalypt leaves around campfires in the bush. 
And it can all still be saved now. That's what they would want. It's what we want. We can save it if we care enough. Like the indigenous people before us our survival depends on the continued survival of our country and its natural world, these beautiful complex ecosystems . 

We must redevelop current initiatives with ecosystem priorities, saving as much of it as we can. Our hearts and spirits and ongoing existence are bound up with such areas. We may not always fully have realised it but our characterisation of the various levels of endangered, vulnerable etc has been our way within our culture of saying how much they meant to us and our distress when any were lost and we had to admit they were extinct.
Please. We need them. I need them. They belong to us the Australian people and they must be saved in all their detailed beauty and wonder. Loving them is what makes us Australian. 
This is what the ANZACs fought for. It's what they remembered and longed to get home to from overseas. We are their descendants. We must save it for us and our children and grandchildren. 
We can do it, can definitely do it if we care enough. We must be Indigenous and also be modern ANZACs too. Fight for what we love as Australians.

Helen Dowland

Ship funding 

January 2019

Transport, Planning and Infrastructure Minister, Stephan Knoll’s penny-pinching , bean-counting funding cuts roll on, and this time it is the wonderful ships Falie and One and All that will suffer. 

Never mind hundreds of young people have learnt valuable skills on these ships, and been able to realise what they are capable of when working as an integral part of a team. Mr Knoll harps on about making “tough decisions” but his short-sighted and unimaginative approach is of concern. 

When the next state election rolls around, it will not be a tough decision for the thousands of voters who will have been severely inconvenienced by this slash-and-burn Liberal Government. It will be a one-termer . 

Alex Hodges


August 2018

Hydroponics for the future.

A vision of the near future. Northern South Australia and into the Northern Territory, becoming the food bowl of Australia and many other countries. The development of vertical cropping of vegetables in huge sheds is the way forward. The ratio of land used to food production output is incredibly efficient. Water use (Artisan) is also small in quantity per Kilo of food produced.

Trends are showing plant-based food is the only sustainable way to feed people now and into the future.

The burgeoning population, food production, land and resources along with climate change are already at breaking point. To survive we must adapt to a different reality.

Visualize acres and acres of structures for growing hydroponic food with recycling of the water and solar panels on top to support the installations.

To facilitate these Vertical Farms, road and rail infrastructure could be put in place by electrifying the north south rail and using electric road vehicles. Solar farm installations in the abundant sunny centre would boost the power required to assist and support the farming, transportation of goods and add to the national grid. 

Desert and sunlight with water underneath must be the epitome of a food producer’s dream come true in light of recent developments.

Examples of the future already in action were shown recently on the ABC program Catalyst, of August 14th.

Companies early into the large hydroponic era of food production will reap the benefits of forward thinking. Those featured in the TV show were Modular Farm System Co. are a complete indoor vertical farming system and Flavorite, “Sophistication and innovation — it is a tried-and-true approach to farming that is paying significant dividends in the paddocks around Warragul in West Gippsland.”

These systems are game changers and early birds will reap the rewards.

Phil Cornelius

Greenhouse gas was pumped into basalt rock and turned into limestone in just two years for permanent sequestration. 

By: Henrik Bendix

Scientists started pumping CO2 into the basaltic rock in Iceland in 2011. After just two years, 95 per cent of the greenhouse gas had been converted in solid calcium carbonate, also known as limestone.

Scientists have developed a fast and secure type of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and successfully demonstrated that the greenhouse gas CO2 can be converted into solid limestone in just two years.

CO2 is dissolved in water and pumped into volcanic basalt rocks. Here it is transformed into calcium carbonate--limestone--where it can be safely stored as solid rock and help to combat climate change.

“Within two years, 95 per cent of the CO2 we injected had been converted into calcium carbonate--a very stable material,” says co-author Knud Dideriksen, assistant professor at the Nano-Science Centre and Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The study is published in the journal Science.

New method: fast and safe.

One of the problems with existing CCS techniques is that CO2 gas can easily escape from the ground, says Dideriksen.

"It means that you have to monitor the places where you inject CO2 to make sure it doesn’t escape," he says.

But this problem is tackled by dissolving CO2 in water.

"We dissolved the CO2 [in water], making it heavier than the liquid already down there. The solution dissolves the [basalt] rock and reacts with the CO2 and rapidly forms calcium carbonate," says Dideriksen. "Our method is a fast, effective, and safe way to inject CO2."

Well-known methods take thousands of years.

The speed with which the new method converts CO2 into a solid rock is promising, says senior scientist Niels Poulsen from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), who has studied CCS techniques for many years. He was not involved with the new research.

“[The chemical reaction] can take somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 years in a sandstone reservoir. In the basalt, the CO2 is converted so quickly that it doesn’t have the opportunity to escape through cracks in the rock. It’s incredible that it can happen so quickly,” says Poulsen.

Dideriksen agrees.

The pilot project CarbFix lies 25 kilometres from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. Here, thousands of tons of dissolved CO2 have been pumped underground and transformed into limestone.

“The CO2 was converted much faster than we ever hoped. Calculations showed that it could take eight to ten years, but it went much faster. Of course, we’re very happy,” he says.

CCS under way in Iceland

At a test site east of Reykjavik, scientists have pumped up to 230 tons of dissolved CO2 into the calcium-rich basaltic bedrock.

The water easily penetrated the porous, fine-grained rocks, down to a depth of 400 to 800 metres. They added a tracer to the dissolved CO2so they could see if any of it escaped later on.

Eventually the pump broke down as it had become completely in-filled with calcium carbonate. The scientists took a bore sample of the newly formed calcium carbonate to confirm that it was formed by the pumped CO2 and they were astounded by how fast the whole process had been.

Reykjavik Energy are already adopting the technique and plan to inject 10,000 tons of CO2 per year, says Dideriksen.

Ideal CCS for Industry

CCS has the potential to reduce global warming by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing CO2 emissions from industry.

“In Denmark we’re moving quickly towards carbon-free energy mix. So I don’t think that CCS is necessary for our energy production, and the same goes for other developed countries,” says Poulsen.

“But many developing countries are still dependant on coal, and we have a lot of high emission industries that we cannot do without such as the steel, cement, aluminium, fertiliser, and paper industries. It could be interesting if we could store a part of this CO2,” he says.

“The U.S. is working on a method to capture CO2 straight from the atmosphere. That would allow us to deal with emissions from traffic. And if you have a power plant running on a biofuel such as wood chips or pellets, then we can reduce the atmospheric content of CO2 by injecting and storing the CO2. There’s a future for this,” says Poulsen.

Trapping Carbon


Scientists Are Trapping CO2 And Turning It Into Stone.

David Nield

Freelance technology journalist

23 NOV 2016

Researchers have turned carbon dioxide (CO2) into solid rock by injecting volcanic basalt rock with pressurised liquid CO2, and letting natural chemical reactions trigger the transformation.

The technique, which takes two years to achieve, gives scientists another option for capturing and storing the excess CO2 humans are pumping into the atmosphere – and could one day be scaled up to take significant levels of carbon out of circulation.

The research was conducted by a team from the the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and builds on a similar experiment in Iceland earlier this year, which dissolved CO2 in water and injected it into a basalt formation.

In the latest study, undiluted CO2 was used, and much more of it was stored at once: 1,000 tonnes of fluid carbon dioxide.

The PNNL team had already shown that the chemical reactions could happen in lab conditions, but until now, they didn't know how long the reactions would take in a real-world setting.

"Now we know that this mineral trapping process can occur very quickly, it makes it safe to store CO2 in these formations," says researcher Pete McGrail. "We know now that in a short period of time the CO2 will be permanently trapped."

In their field study, the researchers injected the fluid carbon dioxide into hardened lava flows some 900 metres (2,952 feet) underground, near the town of Wallula in Washington State.

At that depth, minerals including calcium, iron, and magnesium make up part of the basalt formations. These minerals become unstable, and then dissolve in the acidic conditions created by the CO2.

The dissolving minerals react with the carbon dioxide to form the carbonate material ankerite, which is similar to limestone, and binds with the basalt.

You can see the end results marked by the white areas in the sample shown in the image above.

While turning CO2 into rock isn't a new idea, scientists are working to make the process quicker and more efficient – as original estimates predicted the reactions could take thousands of years. 

Basalts are found all around the world, including North America and Iceland, which is one of the reasons the technique could be an effective way of dealing with excess CO2.

But before we get too excited about sending all of our excess carbon underground, there are still some issues to resolve.

Capturing carbon remains relatively expensive, and scientists aren't sure how well these experiments will ultimately scale up, particularly as more and more existing basalt formations turn into carbonate.

Then there's the question of accurately gauging how much storage capacity the basalt actually offers.

Scientists have recently found that our calculations of another carbon storage method – soil's natural capacity to absorb and store CO2 – had been overestimated by as much as 40 percent.

So we need to wait for further tests to be carried out before declaring all our carbon worries over, but it's a promising area of research, and it gives us an end result that's difficult to beat: CO2 in a safe and solid form deep below the ground, where it can't do any harm to the atmosphere or oceans.

"[The CO2] can't leak, there's no place for it to go, it's back to solid rock," explains McGrail. "There isn't a more safer or permanent storage mechanism."

The findings are published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.