“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”
Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.
According to Vatican insiders, Francis will meet other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, when countries will sign up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals………..
According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”
However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.
Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”………
Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion……..http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/27/pope-francis-edict-climate-change-us-rightwing?CMP=share_btn_tw
But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power” projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.
When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)
COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion. Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.
Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
E.P.A. Wrestles With Role of Nuclear Plants in Carbon Emission Rules By MATTHEW L. WALD NYT DEC. 25, 2014 WASHINGTON — Trying to write a complicated formula to cut carbon emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency thinks it has found a magic number: 5.8.
The agency is trying to complete a rule governing carbon emissions from power plants, and among the most complicated and contentious issues is how to treat existing nuclear power plants. Many of them are threatened with shutdowns because cheap natural gas has made their reactors uncompetitive.
The agency’s proposal gave an odd mathematical formula for evaluating nuclear plants’ contribution to carbon emissions. It said that 5.8 percent of existing nuclear capacity was at risk of being shut for financial reasons, and thus for states with nuclear reactors, keeping them running would earn a credit of 5.8 percent toward that state’s carbon reduction goal.
Since receiving tens of thousands of comments on the proposal, the agency is now reviewing the plan. It must evaluate all comments before it sets a final rule, which it hopes to do by June. That rule, however, is likely to be challenged in court. Continue reading
Arctic Ice Melting Due To Absorption Of Increased Solar Radiation http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/576820/20141222/arctic-melting-ice-solar-radiation.htm#.VJ20osA8 By India Ashok | December 22, 2014
In recent years, the Arctic region has been absorbing more and more of the sun’s radioactive energy, causing the rapid melting of ice in the region. Researchers have found a direct correlation in the rise of solar radiation being absorbed and the decrease in the mount of Arctic sea ice. Since 2000, scientists have observed that the reflective quality of the sea ice has been overwhelmed by the increased levels of absorption of solar radiation such that sea ice in the area has been shrinking at a consistently alarming rate. In fact, the overall climate of the Arctic region is reported to have undergone a marked increase in warmth.
Norman Loeb of NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia has reportedly stated that the Arctic region experienced an increase of warmth in the climate of about five percent. In fact, scientists have concluded that the Arctic region is the only one in the world to have experienced such a rise in temperatures. NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments, which have been placed on a few satellites are responsible for uncovering the data and measurements from which the Arctic climactic conditions can be analysed.
Leob went on to say that “Advances in our understanding of Arctic climate change and the underlying processes that influence will depend critically upon high quality observations like these from CERES.” What is confounding most scientists is that the Arctic region is comparatively showing more changes in its climate than any other region on the planet.
Mark Tschudi of the University of Colorado provided enough data that portrayed that since 2000, the Arctic region has lost a total of 1.4 million square kilometres of old ice. Further observation into the climactic conditions of the Arctic region only reinforce the theory that the marked temperature rise in the region is slated to continue increasing at this rate. While most would like to spend more time observing climactic patterns before venturing a root cause for such drastic changes, the possibly that global warming may have a hand in all this could not be ruled out.
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Woodlands at risk as mercury climbs http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/woodlands-at-risk-as-mercury-climbs-20141223-124s2a.html December 24, 2014 – Peter Hannam
“At 50 degrees, you just start to see massive mortality in the canopy, even in the eucalyptus,” Eamus says.
Many studies have focused on how vegetation initially benefits from increases in carbon dioxide – a plant food – provided adequate water and soil nutrients are available. Less understood, though, is how trees cope with higher temperatures, particularly when humidity drops. That gap is partly because humidity conditions have been difficult to replicate at large scale.
“Stomata of all plants respond to decreased humidity by closing their apertures so they can reduce the amount of water they have to spend,” Eamus says. Less transpiration, though, means ambient temperatures are hotter.
Droughts will make the problem worse as eco-systems are already under stress. “The incoming solar radiation can’t evaporate the water from soil and leaves, [so] it heats the canopy, ground and air,” he says.
Some species are less adapted to rising temperatures than others, so the biodiversity balance will shift. Eamus predicts alpine forests – which are forecast to see some of the biggest temperate increases – “are going to be first ones to keel over”.
Australian scientists have now found the radiation is having much wider effects. “Ecosystem impacts documented so far include changes to growth rates of South American and New Zealand trees, decreased growth of Antarctic mosses and changing biodiversity in Antarctic lakes,” say Sharon Robinson, of Wollongong University in NSW, and David Erickson, from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Because it is no longer absorbing UV light, the stratosphere has cooled, which is reducing air pressure over the South Pole and sucking the southern jetstream southwards, along with its associated weather systems.
That has helped cool the Antarctic and direct more extreme weather towards Australia.http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-ozone-hole-is-rewriting-earths-
Warm oceans keep world on course for hottest year December 16, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Ongoing record warmth in the world’s oceans has increased the likelihood that 2014 will be declared the hottest year since reliable data began more than a century ago, US and Japanese agencies say.
The warmth comes as conditions in the Pacific remain conducive to an El Nino event forming in coming months, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.
Surface temperatures have exceeded El Nino threshold levels for several weeks, and the bureau estimates there is a greater than 70 per cent chance of such an event soon.
The first 11 months of the year were the warmest on record, with combined global land and sea-surface temperatures running 1.22 degrees above the 20th-century average, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
This year will be the hottest on record – eclipsing 2005 and 2010 – provided December is at least 0.76 degrees above average, NOAA said…………http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/warm-oceans-keep-world-on-course-for-hottest-year-20141216-1287l2.html
Rapid warming of Arctic may trigger dangerous solar radiation feedback loop http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/rapid-warming-of-arctic-may-trigger-dangerous-solar-radiation-feedback-loop/ Delila James | Science Recorder | December 18, 2014 NASA scientists at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco presented what is just the latest dire prediction about the runaway effects of climate change.
The researchers discussed a map created by satellites’ heat-sensing instruments showing the rate of solar radiation change in the Arctic, where the rate of heat absorption per square meter since 2000 has increased by more than 10 Watts of energy, according to a report by Wired. In some regions, such as the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska, the rate has increased as much as 45 Watts of energy per square meter.
For the past decade-and-a-half, NASA has been using satellite sensors called CERES to calculate how much solar energy is being absorbed by planet Earth as opposed to being reflected back into space. Every year the Arctic ice cap shrinks in the summer and grows in the winter. But because of the record loss of sun-reflecting sea ice in the Arctic seen in recent years, much of the winter ice cover now is thin—less than 6 feet thick, according to Wired.
So, when warm weather returns to the Arctic, the thin ice cover melts rapidly, causing the oceans to heat up. This then causes more ice to melt in a solar radiation feedback loop, in which the thinner the ice cover, the earlier in the summer it melts, which warms the ocean, which melts the ice, and so on.
Compared to 30 years ago, the annual summer melt in the Arctic comes seven days earlier, the Wired report said.
Atmospheric scientist Jennifer Kay of the University of Colorado, who collaborated in the research, said in a statement that CERES, which has only been collecting Arctic solar energy data since 2000, cannot be used to predict any long-term trends.
“Climate is usually considered to be a 30-year average,” Kay said.
If you believe the grim predictions of the latest climate science, Shishmaref is just the beginning. Towns in low-lying coastal plains and flood-prone river basins in the lower 48 may be next. A study from the U.S. Geological Surveywarns that 50 percent of the U.S. coastline is at high or very high risk of impacts due to sea level rise; according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 16.4 million Americans live in the coastal flood plain. If we can’t figure out how to save a village with fewer than 600 people from falling into the sea, what hope is there for everyone else?
Climate Change Takes A Village, Huff Post Kate Sheppard firstname.lastname@example.org
As The Planet Warms, A Remote Alaskan Town Shows Just How Unprepared We Are 12/14/2014 “……..The remote village of 563 people is located 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle, flanked by the Chukchi Sea to the north and an inlet to the south, and it sits atop rapidly melting permafrost. In the last decades, the island’s shores have been eroding into the sea, falling off in giant chunks whenever a big storm hits.
The residents of Shishmaref, most of whom are Alaska Native Inupiaq people, have tried to counter these problems, moving houses away from the cliffs and constructing barriers along the northern shore to try to turn back the waves. But in July 2002, looking at the long-term reality facing the island, they voted to pack up and move the town elsewhere.
Relocation has proven much more difficult than that single vote, however. And 12 years later, Shishmaref is still here, ready to begin another school year. Continue reading
Lima climate change talks end in agreement – but who won? Guardian, Suzanne Goldberg, 14 Dec 14 This weekend’s deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions gave everyone at the talks in Peru what they came for – sort of There was one thing above all others that wealthy countries wanted out of the Lima negotiations and that was a method of accounting for emissions cuts.
The issue that mattered above all to developing countries was deciding who should carry the burden of emissions cuts, and getting the money flowing for climate aid.
For small island states, acknowledgement of “loss and damage” due to climate change was critical. All three contingents got what they wanted – sort of. The deal reached on Saturday afternoon was critical in keeping the talks on track. The US and the European Union had pushed hard for a text that would require countries to offer upfront information about the nature of their pledges to cut emissions – “clarity, transparency and understanding”.
Wealthy countries also wanted a review process to ensure the pledges when they all come in would be enough to keep the world on course for two degrees of warming. But China especially had balked at providing detailed accounting of its emissions reductions plans, arguing that an outside review would amount to an affront to its sovereignty. The deal that emerged early on Sunday found a solution by changing a single word – “shall” to “may” – easing China’s concerns about outside interference……..http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/14/lima-climate-change-talks-who-won
Lima climate summit extended as poor countries demand more from rich,Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg in Lima 12 Dec 14 Leaders of rich nations have been lampooned by environment activists at the Lima talks, but developing countries are also frustrated by their apparent lack of commitment.
Talks stumble amid rising frustration over ‘ridiculously low’ cash commitments offered by rich nations to help pay for emissions cuts Climate talks in Lima ran into extra time amid rising frustration from developing countries at the “ridiculously low” commitments from rich countries to help pay for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
The talks – originally scheduled to wrap up at 12pm after 10 days – are now expected to run well into Saturday , as negotiators huddle over a new draft text many glimpsed for the first time only morning.
The Lima negotiations began on a buoyant note after the US, China and the EU came forward with new commitments to cut carbon pollution. But they were soon brought back down to earth over the perennial divide between rich and poor countries in the negotiations: how should countries share the burden for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and who should pay?
The talks were designed to draft a blueprint for a global deal to fight climate change, due to be adopted in Paris late next year. But developing countries argued that before signing on they needed to see greater commitments that the industrialised countries would keep to their end of a bargain to provide the money needed to fight climate change. After 10 days of talks, developing countries argued that those assurances were not strong enough.
By midweek, a little over $10bn had been raised for a green climate fund, intended to help poor countries invest in clean energy technology. That was below the initial target of $15bn and many of those funds will be distributed over several years………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/12/lima-climate-change-talks-stumble-cash-emissions-cuts
Planned shutdowns of nuclear plants could mean higher prices for consumers CTV Toronto , December 8, 2014 The planned shutdowns of two of Ontario’s biggest nuclear plants during normally high peak times could mean soaring prices for consumers next year.
The Bruce Power and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations will be shut down at the same time next spring and summer for 16 weeks for planned repairs.
The closure means that Ontario will not have enough electricity to meet its mandatory reserve during those weeks, when power demands normally soar. Last year, Ontario’s top-10 record days for electricity demand fell during those weeks. And Toronto also declared six extreme heat alerts during the same time.
The massive shutdowns combined with the possible added demand for power could mean the province may import electricity from the U.S. to avoid an outage.
“We always have the option if we see extreme weather coming to import power from our neighbours,” Alexandra Campbell, a spokesperson for the Independent Electricity System Operator, told CTV Toronto.
But Ontario’s NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns is warning that could mean higher prices for consumers.
“Let’s all pray for a cool, rainy May and a cloudy June and July because very high prices comes with those very high temperatures,” Tabus said…….
House Republican Plans to Introduce Pro-Climate-Science Bill http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/house-republican-plans-to-introduce-pro-climate-science-bill-20141205
Chris Gibson wants the GOP to “operate in the realm of knowledge and science.”
Rep. Chris Gibson said Thursday he plans to introduce a resolution on climate change that will help others “recognize the reality” of the situation. Gibson said the extreme weather he has witnessed in his own upstate New York district supports the science, and he wants to be a leader in spurring recognition of changing weather patterns.
“My district has been hit with three 500-year floods in the last several years, so either you believe that we had a one in over 100 million probability that occurred, or you believe as I do that there’s a new normal, and we have changing weather patterns, and we have climate change. This is the science,” said the two-term lawmaker who was reelected in November.
“I hope that my party—that we will come to be comfortable with this, because we have to operate in the realm of knowledge and science, and I still think we can bring forward conservative solutions to this, absolutely, but we have to recognize the reality,” Gibson said. “So I will be bringing forward a bill, a resolution that states as such, with really the intent of rallying us, to harken us to our best sense, our ability to overcome hard challenges.”
Gibson spoke at an event hosted by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, which is a pro-Republican advocacy group; a PAC that supports Republicans called Concord 51; and the Conservation Leadership Council, a group of conservatives that includes Gale Norton, who was Interior Secretary under George W. Bush. The Environmental Defense Fund helped create the CLC. Event organizers provided a video clip of his comments. Gibson’s office did not respond to inquiries about the matter. But while the specifics of the effort aren’t yet clear, Gibson’s stances are at odds with many in the GOP’s ranks.
Ascendant Republicans on Capitol Hill are preparing fresh assaults on the White House climate agenda, and expressing continued doubts about the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels and other human activity is the leading driver of global warming.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, during his reelection campaign in Kentucky, said he is “not a scientist” when asked about climate change, a line used by a number of Republicans.
Gibson, to be sure, hardly marches in lockstep with environmentalists. He supports the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline and has voted for expanded offshore drilling.
But he also joined just two other Republicans last March in voting against a bill to scuttle EPA’s carbon-emissions rules for power plants, and he has also voted against other attacks on federal climate-change programs.
He won support in this year’s elections from the political branch of the Environmental Defense Fund. “It’s very encouraging to see this kind of leadership emerging in the Congress,” Tony Kreindler, EDF Action’s senior director for strategic communications, said of Gibson’s planned resolution.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Gibson both touted his support for expanded drilling and called for more investment in federal green-energy investment, while noting the potential of solar energy as costs decline.
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