Can Nuclear Energy Solve the Energy Crisis?

Image from prn.fm
Image from prn.fm
Image from Readandenjoy.me
Image from Readandenjoy.me
Image from world-nuclear.org
Image from world-nuclear.org

Nuclear power, sourced from the nucleus of atoms, pose the most controversial alternative energy sources in the world today.

Compared to coal, nuclear energy has some serious advantages, primarily its lack of methane or carbon dioxide production: the two main greenhouse gases, and non-dependence on fossil fuels. This shouldn’t be ignored, but nor should the negative effects nuclear energy has on the environment. Nuclear energy runs on uranium, the mining of which is anything but a clean process. One of the biggest problems for nuclear energy is the disposal of highly radioactive waste, and the pollution caused by transporting nuclear fuel.

Rarely do the public question an issue so unanimously. Undoubtedly, the first thought associated with the word ‘nuclear’ is the horrific results of nuclear weapons or breakdowns, such as the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Complex disaster in 2012. Any support nuclear energy gains from being a better alternative to coal is lost once events like Fukushima make the news. One survey published in 2014 by Deanne Bird, Katherine Haynes, Rob van der Honert, John MacAneny, and Wouter Poortinga showed that in 2010, 42% accepted nuclear power if it tackled climate change, but after Fukushima, a 2012 follow-up survey showed that 40% were not willing to accept nuclear power, even knowing that it is cleaner than coal. It is no surprise then, that only 12% of Australians would accept a nuclear power plant being built near their residence. The public mood towards nuclear energy is scared and distrustful, and for good reason.

Nuclear power plants are major targets for militant attacks. Whether they aim to cause a nuclear explosion or commandeer nuclear plants to make weapons, there are serious safety concerns around nuclear power. A recent Red Cross survey showed that 84% of Australians would feel safer without nuclear weapons in the picture. Radioactive threats do not only stem from attacks, however. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear explosion in history, demonstrated that human errors and design flaws are just as dangerous. Whatever the cause, radioactive pollution causes cancer, infertility, blindness, and birth defects; and environmental effects like soil sterilisation.

Safety issues aside, there are a range of reasons why nuclear energy is not a viable alternative energy solution. The cost of construction is incredibly high and prone to budget blowouts of around 50-70%. Construction costs average $5750-$7550: four times more expensive than gas, and more expensive than wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Although operation costs are low, they are still more expensive than renewable wind and geothermal technology, and at best the same cost as the most expensive form of solar energy.

Globally, nuclear energy produces 2000 metric tonnes of waste annually, and is incredibly difficult to hold safely for long periods of time. Over time, waste does decay to safe levels of radiation, but this takes hundreds of years. As one Australian Green’s policy, advocated by Senator Scott Ludlum, comments, “future generations must not be burdened with toxic nuclear waste for which there is no safe disposal”.

Because Australia owns 30% of the world’s uranium reserves, nuclear energy would boost the economy, but when wind and solar avoid environmental and humanitarian problems associated with nuclear energy and pose cheaper, faster constructed, and truly renewable sources of energy, nuclear power plants are not the solution to the energy crisis.

By Kate Oatley

Illegal Puppy Trade

Image from RSPCA
Image from RSPCA
Image from Animal Rescue Corps
Image from Animal Rescue Corps
Image from Animal Rescue Corps
Image from Animal Rescue Corps

Puppy farming, although internationally infamous, remains a hidden horror in Australia. The Internet allows for both consumer impulse buying, and the illegal breeding of pedigrees at short notice. Illegal breeders maintain puppy farms, where puppies are bred and sold in horrifically unsanitary conditions. Puppies are rarely vaccinated, and often arrive so sick that (if the puppy survives the trip) new owners fork out hundreds of dollars in veterinary bills.

One infamous international trade relationship transports puppies between Eastern European countries like Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, and the Netherlands along unregulated trade routes. Two thirds of puppies disappear from official Netherlands government records, but 95% of the 180,000 registered dogs are traceable to Eastern Europe. Although the punishments for illegal puppy trade are substantial, they are rarely implemented; in reality, almost nothing is done to curb trading. Making matters worse, legal and illegal networks are intertwined, allowing large trading networks to thrive unnoticed.

Australia has not escaped the puppy trade; organisation Oscar’s Law investigated Australian puppy farms. In New South Wales, puppies slept under sheets of tin in sub-zero temperatures, or were stacked on top of each other in cages. Dogs in South Australia frequently slept on top of their own excrement; investigators became physically ill from the stench. Incredibly, local council permits legally allow puppy farms to operate in Australia. The Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) claims to have a Lifetime Guarantee Policy on Dog Traceability and Re-homing that guarantees all puppies are sourced from responsible breeders. However, Oscar’s Law found that PIAA-accredited pet shops buy puppies from factories in New South Wales and South Australia.

In Singapore, buyers pay around $4000-$8000 for an Australian-bred puppy, with trading so popular that puppies are transported weekly from Melbourne. Between 2012-2013, 987 puppies were traded within Australia. 646 of these were sent from Melbourne, the majority of which were bred on Victorian puppy farms. The trade goes both ways. On their website, Oscar’s Law investigator Laurita comments, “nothing prepared me for what I saw in the Singapore puppy factories. Rows of sheds full of dogs… I could barely hear the sales pitch from staff to buy an ‘Australian import’ puppy, over the deafening sound of the dogs in the sheds… for the puppies that don’t sell, their future is the atrocity of life in those breeding sheds.”

To put a stop to illegal puppy farming internationally, FOUR PAWS demands European Union-wide legal regulation for the registration, vaccination, and identification of dogs via micro-chipping. Within Australia, there are several petitions you can sign to help quash the puppy trade, such as the Australian Greens’ petition to stop Victorian puppy farming. Increasing knowledge in the consumer community to allow informed decisions is key. FOUR PAWS advises consumers to avoid buying cheap puppies. The RSPCA advocates avoiding pet stores, and paying close attention to dog breeders. Reputable breeders will always ask questions about your circumstances, operate to high standards of care, will be eager to let you meet the puppy’s parents.

Although Government regulation will help, ultimately, until consumers stop buying illegal puppies, the trade will continue to boom far into the future.

Make a change: http://www.oscarslaw.org
Find a trusted breeder: http://adoptapet.com.au
Join the initiative:http://www.closepuppyfactories.org
Sign the Greens petition: http://victoria.greens.org.au/puppyfarms 

By Kate Oatley

Designer Feature: Geachi

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Telstra Perth Fashion Festival’s WA Born was swarming with Western Australia’s most talented designers this September, showcasing their designs on a global stage. Jessica and Sally Geach were among them, showing off the latest from their label Geachi.

Birthed during the sisters’ studies in Fashion Design at Polytechnic-West TAFE, Geachi prides itself in bringing avant-garde pieces to your everyday wardrobe and specializes in evening wear. The label’s sleek yet fun garments compliment all body types, which is exactly what Geachi is about: exposing women’s “hidden sexiness, femininity, and confidence”. The sisters affirm us “everybody should feel glamorous, sexy and a million dollars when wearing Geachi”.

Head designer Sally gives us a glimpse into the inner workings of Geachi, from what prompted its launch to what inspires its designs.

“From a young age I was always creating things,” she says. “I began sewing when Jessica would come home from her fashion design course and while she sewed for class I would sew my own little creations. It all stemmed from there, it was something I was good and at really enjoyed!

“Once I learnt how to sew I think I started to take notice of fashion. Seeing Haute Couture collections blew my mind as I realized art and creativity could be transformed into amazing garments. Both Jessica and I have always loved styling and creating outfits, so once we realized we both had a passion for it we knew we would join forces one day.”

After studying fashion, Jessica continued her studies by completing a Commerce degree in Business Marketing and Public Relations. The team wants to combine their understanding of the creative and business sides of the fashion industry to conquer the world with their designs.

“We aim to be one of the top online fashion destinations for women’s fashion,” Sally says. “We have a year full of exciting events and photo shoots, each week something new and exciting happens for us so who knows where it will lead.”

As for what inspires their creations, Sally assures us it is “everything”. “We love looking at different cultures and traditions, seeing how different people create things and use art in there own way. We love colour and texture. [Also] travelling, seeing new fabrics and prints. Making an inspiration board of a theme we want to go with for the season that we can continually feed off and design from.”

While Candice Swanepoel and her embodiment of all things glamorous and feminine make her an ideal model for Geachi gowns, the designers say they want to appeal to every woman. “We aim to embrace all parts of being a woman and celebrating the female form. We want to bring glamour and femininity to our designs so any woman can feel absolutely amazing wearing our clothes; whether she is an everyday working girl or a well-known celebrity.”

The Perth-based duo say there is great support for local WA Designers. “Whenever we tell people what we do we get such a great response. There are lots of events and opportunities for local talent to get great exposure and positive push to do really well.

“An event like WA Born are great for meeting new people in the Perth Fashion scene and allows us to tell more people about what we do at Geachi.”

The Geach sisters hope to be involved in more events like WA Born in the future, so keep an eye out for more of their awesome designs!

Photography by DanBrady.co

HMUA by Amy Brady

Styled by Sally Geach

By Joanna Delalande 

WA Designer Runway 2: Megan Salmon

Bridget Dress
Bridget Dress

It was the bright, fabulous 80s styling in the pages of Mode magazine that first drew Megan Salmon to the world of fashion. The art career she had been pursuing till then does not go unnoticed in her collections, each piece a unique exploration of how colour, shape, and textiles can come together to compliment and celebrate female individuality and beauty.

Megan’s label started in 2000, and has since explored ideas surrounding our perception of beauty and the part clothing can come to play in that. “How [clothes] can transform one’s confidence and alter perceptions of beauty and identity.” She tries to develop clothing that delivers functionality, but also creates shapes that compliment all women.

Inspired mainly by art and textile, the designer calls to women appreciate art and culture with her collection. “Cate Blanchett would be perfect for my label,” Megan says. “She epitomizes the beauty of women who are talented and intelligent.” Her work links the worlds of art and fashion through the manipulation of vibrant and unique textiles, and the creation of sculpture-like forms.

This year Megan completed a fall winter 15 collection and a spring summer 15/16 collection. The twenty-page catalogue spreads feature an impressive range of fabrics and colour combinations, true to the designer’s form.

Of the latter assortment of designs Megan says her favourite is the Bridget dress, inspired by 1960s Brigitte Bardot. “I love old pictures of 60s starlets like Bardot where they look sweet and sexy all at once, yet with a girlish demeanor,” she explains. “This dress is timeless and contemporary all at once.”

As a Perth-based designer, Megan admits working in WA does have its challenges; not only is she isolated from the stylists of the major magazines, she finds herself having to freight her collections to the East Coast, which she explains is expensive and time consuming. For this reason, she encourages aspiring fashion designers to strive for representation in retail on the East Coast. “Get agents who know the retail over there and can sell you into much bigger markets than here in Perth,” she says. “More sales gives you much more control in every area.”

But Megan says working in the remote state of WA can also be advantageous. “We are unique here in that we carve out our own style without being held up to fashion trends. It’s great for creativity.”

Megan’s plans for the near future include continuing to broaden her label’s market, with the aim of addressing international sales. We are eager to see her inimitable designs travel the rest of the world!

By Joanna Delalande

WA Designer Runway 2: Jessica Bratich

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Jessica Bratich launched her handbag label in late 2011 and has since taken the runway at the New York Fashion Palette, Perth Fashion Festival, International Fashion Week and Townsville Festival. Her bags have been seen on television presenters Erin Molan and Lisa Fernandez, actress Courtney Eaton, and “The Face of Australia” winner Olivia Donaldson. Her designs were recently featured at the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival’s WA Designer Runway 2.

And X-Factor judge and former Spice Girl Mel B was reportedly spotted carrying two Jessica Bratich clutches during her time in Perth. Not that the designer is willing to stop here. “I would like to see my designs on someone like Blake Lively,” she says.

Jessica was not always interested in being part of the fashion industry. “I probably started later than most,” she confesses as she talks about her communications and marketing studies at university and her simultaneous interest in competitive karate. She had been working part time in retail for several years when her interest began to grow, and when she retired from karate she decided to pursue a career in fashion.

Jessica’s collection ranges beyond bags and clutches, to headscarves, hats and caps, and jewelry. She aims for diversity in her designs to create products to suit varying occasions, “from day to day to red carpet events”. Her products are built for practicality and functionality as well as serving an aesthetic purpose. Her favourite from her collection: the Angeline Backpack, a small, snakeskin backpack available in black and cream, which she describes as “young and fun and right on trend now”.

The Perth-based designer says her inspiration can come from “anything and everything, but mostly from people and the comments they make about what they want in a bag”. Her awareness and understanding of what goes on in the fashion world shows in her collection, which is on par with all the latest trends and movements.

While she has found getting national exposure and breaking through to the East Coast difficult, she finds the relationship she has with other Perth designers invaluable to her creative process. She also appreciates the “local support I receive from people here who want me to succeed”.

Perth’s isolation from the rest of the fashion world in no way seemed to stop Jessica from making a name for herself, however, and the dream does not stop here. In the future, she aims to expand to the East Coast and even Overseas, while continuing to introduce new ranges of products. She might see more celebrities wearing her clutches yet, perhaps even Blake Lively.

By Joanna Delalande 

Designer Feature: Jonte Pike

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Jonté is what happens when you combine South African cultural and ethnic influences into Perth’s fashion sphere. The result? A fresh perspective that breathes new trends, while playing around with existing ones. Established in 2012, the brand is renowned for their sensational dresses, as well as their beautiful and breathable sleek and comfy garments.

The brand takes its name from its head designer, Jonté Pike. To her, the world of fashion has always been a familiar environment. Her mother’s fashion lectures back in South Africa inspired Jonté to pursue fashion when she was just a young girl. Her move to Australia was accompanied with her goal to study Fashion Design, further deepening her interests in the business of making clothes. After she finished her studies, Jonté had created her own unique style of adding twists and turns into the clothing trends of Perth.

Jonté’s high quality craftsmanship and her strong design signatures are attributed to her extensive training and vast experiences in the fashion industry. She won a textile scholarship to Japan, then to South Korea to attend an International Trade Show. In 2012, her brand was showcased in Perth Fashion Week, sparking interests and a growing loyal customer base. It’s no surprise that the reception for her designs were largely positive. She brought with her a breath of fresh air to the Perth Fashion scene by introducing new designs that were pleasurable to eyes of Western Australians. Jonté’s latest pieces use atmospheric prints that are sleek and eye-catching, such as bright beads of differing colours on a stark black background, which can be seen on one of her maxi dresses. Prints are usually either abstract, florals, or photo-based. Another notable trend Jonté is setting is by mixing two elements of unlikely clothing into one beautiful ensemble like a cape that also looks like a shirt. She calls this piece the “antiquity cape”, a play of colours and silhouettes by making the cape two toned and ambiguously shirt-looking.

Jonté managed to flourish into the local fashion scene, establishing a strong hold due to her masterful production quality as well as her ingenious garment designs. Perth and its surrounding may not be a very large market compared to the eastern states, but the support for new designers is undeniably strong and ever growing. We’re looking forward to seeing what Jonté has in store next!

Photography by Ryan Ammon

Hair by Jess Helstead 

Makeup by Brooke Carter & Tasha Triglia 

By Christopher Matahari