nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Global warming bringing extreme weather to Australia – droughts and floods

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmAustralia’s drought – yes, it’s climate change http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2483139/australias_drought_yes_its_climate_change.html Tim Radford 18th July 2014 Australia’s prime minister thinks climate change is ‘crap’ and has just abolished his country’s carbon-pricing system. But scientists say that it’s rising levels of CO2 that are leaving the south of the country parched and sweltering – and it’s only going to get worse.

American scientists have just confirmed that parts of Australia are being slowly parched because of greenhouse gas emissions.

A report in Nature Geoscience shows that the long-term decline in rainfall over south and south-west Australia is a consequence of fossil fuel burning and depletion of the ozone layer by human activity. Such a finding is significant for two reasons. One remains contentious: it is one thing to make generalised predictions about the consequences overall of greenhouse gas levels, but it is quite another to pin a measured regional climatic shift directly on human causes, rather than some possible as-yet-unidentified natural cycle of climatic change.

The other is contentiously political.

Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, has in the past dismissed climate science as “crap”, and more recently has cut back on Australian research spending.

Bush fires and catastrophic flooding

Australia has already experienced a pattern of heat waves and drought – punctuated by catastrophic flooding – and even now, in the Australian winter, New South Wales is being hit by bush fires.

Tom Delworth, a research scientist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports in Nature Geoscience that he and a colleague conducted a series of long-term climate simulations to study changes in rainfall across the globe.

One striking pattern of change emerged in Australia, where winter and autumn rainfall patterns are increasingly a cause of distress for farmers and growers in two states.

The simulation showed that the decline in rainfall was primarily a response to man-made increases in greenhouse gases, as well as to a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer in response to emissions of destructive gases by human sources.

The computer simulations tested a series of possible causes for this decline, such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar radiation. But the only cause that made sense of the observed data was the greenhouse explanation.

It began in 1970, and it hasn’t stopped yet

South Australia has never been conspicuously lush and wet, but decline in precipitation set in around 1970, and this decline has increased in the last four decades.

The simulations predict that the decline will go on, and that average rainfall will drop by 40% over south-west Australia later this century.

Dr Delworth described his model as “a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change”.

In May, scientists proposed that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for a change in Southern Ocean wind patterns, which in turn resets the thermostat for the world’s largest island.

Australian scientists report in Geophysical Research Letters that they, too, have been using climate models to examine Antarctic wind patterns and their possible consequences for the rest of the planet.

Another consequence: accelerated ice sheet melt

“When we included projected Antarctic wind shifts in a detailed global ocean model, we found water up to 4°C warmer than current temperatures rose up to meet the base of the Antarctic ice shelves”, said Paul Spence, a researcher at Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. This temperature rise is twice previous estimates.

“This relatively warm water provides a huge reservoir of melt potential right near the grounding lines of ice shelves around Antarctica. It could lead to a massive increase in the rate of ice sheet melt, with direct consequences for global sea level rise.”

Since the West Antarctic ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea levels by 3.3 metres, the consequences would indeed be considerable.

“When we first saw the results it was quite a shock”, said Dr Spence. “It was one of the few cases where I hoped the science was wrong.”

July 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Anti science, climate denialism, championed by electing Australia’s Tony Abbott

History will condemn climate change denialists    theguardian.com, Wednesday 16 July 2014  Tony Abbott was elected by the right-wing of his party for a single purpose: to destroy any meaningful action in Australia against the threat of climate changeAbbott Koch policies

The argument for radical action on climate change– which Australia will soon at least temporarily reject with the shameful decision to repeal the carbon tax – is embarrassingly simple.

For the past 200 years, western culture has granted science pre-eminent cultural authority. A quarter century ago, a consensus formed among contemporary scientists specialising in the study of the climate. The consensus comprised one principal idea: the primary source of energy on which industrial civilisation relied – the burning of fossil fuels – was dangerously increasing the temperature of the earth.

Thousands upon thousands of scientific studies have been conducted estimating the impact of this warming. Hundreds of outstanding books have been published making the conclusions of the scientists available to the general public. To anyone willing to listen, these scientists have explained that unless human beings derive their energy from sources other than fossil fuels, the future that we face over the next decades and centuries involves the rendering of large parts of the earth uninhabitable to humans and other species – through the melting of the ice caps and glaciers and thus steadily rising sea levels, the acidification of the oceans, the destruction of forests and coral reefs, and the increase in the prevalence and intensity of famines, insect-borne diseases, droughts, bush fires, floods, hurricanes and heat-waves.

Climate scientists also explained that radical action on climate change could not be delayed. …….

As global emissions increased, something surpassingly strange occurred in the realm of politics in the US – something without parallel in the history of the post-Enlightenment west since the Darwinian controversy. The emergence of a broad-based movement of thought challenging the sovereignty of science in one specialised field.

Anti-science climate change denialism began with money cynically and strategically supplied by the massive American fossil fuel corporations. From there it spread to the powerful US network of neo-liberal “think-tanks” whose purpose was to produce the ideas helping to make the world safe for the wealthiest members of the society – the so-called 1%. And from the think-tanks climate change denialism steadily spread downwards to American society more generally, thanks to rabid right wing media like Fox News, until it was powerful enough to capture, almost in its entirety, one of America’s traditional political parties, the republicans.

As a consequence of the spread of climate change denialism, tens of millions of American citizens now base their opinions on the kind of pseudo-knowledge manufactured by the climate change denialist blogs and disseminated daily by the right-wing media. They have come to treat the questions of whether the earth is warming, and if so why, as political matters concerning which those without any genuine scientific understanding or training are as qualified to form an opinion as professors who have devoted their lives to one of the disciplines of climate science.

Climate change denialism soon spread beyond the US, especially to the countries of the English-speaking world. As Australia is a country extremely sensitive to the cultural winds blowing in from the US, reliant on the export and consumption of coal, and where the denialist Murdoch newspapers exercise enormous unhealthy influence, it is hardly surprising that over the past decade climate change denialism quickly sunk deep roots here.,,,,,

The right-wing denialists, now dominant within the Coalition, often call themselves conservatives. They are not. At the heart of true conservatism is the belief that each new generation forms the vital bridge between past and future, and is charged with the responsibility of passing the earth and its cultural treasures to their children and grandchildren in sound order. History will condemn the climate change denialists, here and elsewhere, for their contribution to the coming catastrophe that their cupidity, their arrogance, their myopia and their selfishness have bequeathed to the young and the generations still unborn. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/16/history-will-condemn-climate-change-denialists

July 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Global warming – grounds for judge to reject coal project!

highly-recommendedjusticeCoal Mine’s Rejection on Global-Warming Grounds Has Major Implications http://insideclimatenews.org/carbon-copy/20140701/coal-mines-rejection-global-warming-grounds-has-major-implications If the judge’s reasoning holds up in other cases it could undermine the rationales for much bigger projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline.

By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News A federal judge has blocked a coal project in the wilds of Colorado because federal agencies failed to consider the future global-warming damages from burning fossil fuels.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Johnson’s decision halts exploration proposed by Arch Coal that would have bulldozed six miles of roads on 1,700 untrammeled acres of public land.

When the agencies touted the supposed economic benefits of expanded coal mining in the Sunset Roadless Area, Johnson ruled, they should also have considered any global-warming costs.

The decision was a significant judicial endorsement of a policy tool known as the “social cost of carbon,” which economists and climate scientist use to put a price in today’s dollars on the damages from drought, flood, storm, fire, disease and so forth caused by future global warming due to our emissions from burning fossil fuels.

“It is arbitrary to offer detailed projections of a project’s upside while omitting a feasible projection of the project’s costs,” Johnson decreed.

The Obama administration has increasingly used the social-cost figure to help decide whether restraints on carbon dioxide emissions are worthwhile. Industry groups and their allies in Congress have sought to limit its use. Environmentalists call it a useful device for making clear that there are high costs as well as benefits to burning fossil fuels.

“This decision means that these agencies can’t bury their heads in the sand when confronting the very real impacts of climate change,” said Ted Zukoski, an attorney with Earthjustice, which represented conservationists who sued to block the mining expansion. f the judge’s reasoning holds up in other challenges to agency decisions, it could undermine the rationales for much bigger projects, such as the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In its environmental review of the KXL, the State Department ignored repeated requests by the Environmental Protection Agency to estimate the social cost of carbon from burning the unusually dirty fuel the pipeline would deliver from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

In the Colorado case, the judge wrote, “by deciding not to quantify the costs at all, the agencies effectively zeroed out the cost.”

That violated a key precept of the National Environmental Policy Act, the judge said, which requires a “hard look” at all the environmental costs of government decisions.

That this can be difficult or contentious does not allow agencies “completely to ignore a tool in which an interagency group of experts invested time and expertise,” he wrote. “Common sense tells me that quantifying the effect of greenhouse gases in dollar terms is difficult at best. The critical importance of the subject, however, tells me that a ‘hard look’ has to include a ‘hard look’ at whether this tool, however imprecise it might be, would contribute to a more informed assessment of the impacts than if it were simply ignored.”

July 2, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power cannot curb Climate Change – theme for July 2014

In recent themes I wrote about nuclear power being in fact a big contributor to global warming,  and about how climate change will in fact finish off the nuclear industry.

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.

climate-change-time

 

 

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Christina's themes, climate change | 1 Comment

USA bipartisan climate report predicts economic costs of climate change

Bipartisan US climate report paints dark picture of future economic costs, SMH. June 25, 2014 Don Lee Billions of dollars of property damage along the US Eastern Seaboard. Sharply reduced yields of corn, wheat and soy at Midwestern farms. Rising sea levels threatening military installations in Southern California.

These and other risks from climate change are spelled out in a new bipartisan report that attempts to tally the potential toll on the economy and to push what has been a highly politicised issue into corporate boardrooms for serious consideration.

The report, titled “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change to the United States,” comes from a coalition of high-powered business and political figures, including three former Treasury secretaries.

graph-Climate-Action_vs_Ina
Hampton Bays, NY state, during and after Sandy.Photo: Reuters

The money men who backed the project are Risky Business Project co-chairs Henry M. Paulson Jr., Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush; former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; and Thomas F. Steyer, a hedge fund manager and big Democratic donor. The trio commissioned the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm, to study the economic impact of global warming.

A key conclusion of the report is that the risks vary, sometimes widely, by region and industry sector. By 2050, it warns, Americans could face double or triple the number of extremely hot days (temperatures exceeding 35 degrees celsius) compared with the annual average in the past 30 years.

The study estimates that communities in the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast could see storm-related property damage jump by as much as $US3.5 billion ($3.74 billion) a year by 2030 and possibly more than double that given likely hurricane conditions.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/bipartisan-us-climate-report-paints-dark-picture-of-future-economic-costs-20140625-zskpp.html#ixzz35neOcgq2

June 26, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

USA Tea Party types created Tony Abbott the world’s new warrior on behalf of the fossil fuel industries

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmHow Rupert Murdoch created the world’s newest climate change villain, Salon  Australia was once a leader on climate action. Thanks to American conservative powerhouses, that’s no longer true   21 June 14, Australia, the sunburned country, is uniquely vulnerable to the dangers and risks of global warming. Whether it is the severe effects of flooding, unseasonal heat waves, devastating bush fires or decade-long droughts, Australia’s people, economy and natural environment have all keenly felt the impact of extreme weather and climate change.

Australia’s national scientific organizations have been raising the alarm for more than a decade, and the previous government accepted that scientific consensus and enacted a cap-and-trade scheme in 2012. But after a divisive election last year — one that saw native-born Rupert Murdoch exercise his considerable influence in Australian media markets to disastrous effect — the country is now governed by a deeply unpopular Liberal-National government, crafted in the image of the most climate-denying elements of the Tea Party. And its position on climate change has significant impacts on global efforts to reduce carbon emissions: Australia is not only the chair of the G-20 group of nations, but also holds a place on the U.N. Security Council.

The rest of the world saw this ideology on full, embarrassing display with the recent visit by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to Canada and the United States. Continue reading

June 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Insurance companies manouver around the threats of climate change- consumers will pay

How the insurance industry sees climate change, LA Times, EUGENE LINDEN 16 June 14 Twenty years ago, I interviewed Frank Nutter, then and now president of the Reinsurance Assn. of America, on the threat climate change posed to the $2-trillion-plus global property and casualty insurance industry.

“It is clear,” he said back then, “that global warming could bankrupt the industry.”

But in the two decades since, the industry mostly limited itself to talk, sponsoring innumerable reports on the threat. Now a major insurance company has moved to protect itself, and it may be the most important milestone yet in the struggle to contend with global warming. FOR THE RECORD

It is clear that global warming could bankrupt the industry.- Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Assn. of America   Climate change: A June 17 Op-Ed article accurately reported on nine class-action lawsuits filed by insurance company Illinois Farmers against cities and counties for failing to take steps to prevent losses related to climate change. Farmers has withdrawn the lawsuits, saying it believes that its “policyholders’ interests will be protected in the future” and that it hopes to continue “constructive” conversations with the cities and counties.

The Op-Ed said Farmers is owned by Zurich Group. It is not; Zurich Group owns Farmers Management Co., which provides administrative oversight to Farmers……….

While Floridians wait for the next big storm, sea levels — the most obvious worldwide signal of global warming — continue their inexorable rise. Rising waters have already created Venice-like conditions in the Miami area.

All the nation’s taxpayers have assumed this risk as insurers routinely exclude flood and storm surge damage from policies. This forces homeowners to seek coverage with the National Flood Insurance Program, a tax-dollar backed program also forced by political pressure to under-price its coverage.

Between the state program and federal flood insurance, the American middle class has been given the burden of insuring and subsidizing the affluent. Let’s call it climate change socialism for the rich.

After news of the Farmers’ lawsuit broke, I spoke again with Nutter. He said he too was surprised at how long it has taken for the risk of climate change to percolate through the insurance community. He also pointed out that Farmers is owned by the Zurich Group, which is noteworthy because European insurers, with global reach and exposure, tend to be more attentive to the risks of climate change than domestic insurers.

Is it possible that U.S. insurers are also affected by climate-change deniers? A number of recent studies by the Insurance Information Institute have singled out Florida as having the most exposure to the combined impacts of climate change, but its governor, Rick Scott, and Sen. Marco Rubio are on record dismissing the threat.

And yet everyone can see that sea levels are rising. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine told the New York Times last month, “We are past the point of debating climate change.”

Now, as insurers begin to shift the costs of that reality through rate increases, exclusions, lawsuits and market retreat, consumers can ask such politicians, “Why, if climate change is a hoax, are we paying for it?”http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-linden-insurance-climate-change-20140617-story.html

June 19, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Journalists using ‘weasel words’ to deny the reality of climate change

weasel-words1STUDY: US Reporters Use More Weasel Words in Covering Climate Change, Mother Jones,A new paper finds that our journalists  are constantly hedging on a scientifically settled issue—considerably more so than reporters in Spain.By  Jun. 3, 2014 It’s no secret that different countries have different densities, so to speak, of global warming denial. In particular, English-language speaking nations like the US and the UK tend to be relative denialist hotbeds, and their media include a considerable amount of global warming skepticism. By contrast, media researchers have found that in Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico and Chile, as well as in European nations, journalists tend to cast much less doubt on climate research.

And now, a new paper captures the US media’s relative discomfort with climate science in a new way: By comparing the preponderance of words that suggest scientific uncertainty about climate change in two US newspapers, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, with the concentration in two Spanish ones, El País and El Mundo. The study, by Adriana Bailey and two colleagues at the University of Colorado-Boulder, is just out in the journal Environmental Communication. It finds a considerably greater concentration of such uncertainty-evoking words in the US papers in their 2001 and 2007 coverage of two newly released reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The study used a technique of linguistic analysis that involved examining newspaper articles for “epistemic markers,” defined as “any words or expressions suggesting room for doubt” about climate science. Obviously, there are many, many such words and phrases, and the list of terms considered was quite exhaustive, ultimately comprising 10 separate grammatical categories. In English, terms suggesting uncertainty ranged from “common hedging verbs” (believeconsider, and appear) to “synonyms for uncertain” (blurryinaccurate, andspeculative)…….

The study contained several other troubling findings as well. As suggested by the figure at right, the total “epistemic density” of US articles in actually increased from 2001 to 2007, even as scientific uncertainty about climate science declined. “Contrary to expectation, we saw increases in hedging, or constant amounts of hedging, in all four papers we analyzed,” says Bailey.

Here’s why that’s so odd. This was, after all, the period in which the IPCC went from saying it is “likely” that humans are driving global warming, to saying it is “very likely.” Yet hedging was more prevalent in the latter time period, not less. What’s more, it looks as though the increase in hedging words in US papers from 2001 to 2007 occurred solely at the New York Times—where it grew from 141 words in 10,000 to 297 in 10,000—even as the Wall Street Journal did not show a change over time (236 words versus 235 words per 10,000). (The study did not examine how papers covered the 2013 release of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, which jacked up the scientific certainty even further.)

And there was one more finding of note. The researchers specifically categorized the uncertainty-laden terms by tone, so that more neutral words, like “estimate,” were separated out from clearly negative ones, words that forcefully suggested that the science of climate change is dubious. …….http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/06/climate-media-journalists-hedging-new-york-times

 

 

June 5, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, media | Leave a comment

USA’s EPA proposes New Power Generation Emissions Rules

climate-changeFlag-USAEPA Proposes New Power Generation Emissions Rules http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4329 The USA’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations with a goal of slashing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal fired power plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030.

The USA’s power generation sector is the nation’s biggest source of carbon emissions; representing around 38 percent of the total load.
According to the EPA, the average age of the nation’s coal plants is 42 years. Under the EPA’s proposal, which was directed by President Barack Obama; emission targets for power plants could be met in a few different ways – through power plant upgrades, changing from using coal as a fuel to natural gas, enhancing energy efficiency or increasing uptake of renewable energy.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the announcement marked a defining moment in American history.

“As a nation, we’re poised to finally turn the page from sooty smokestacks to sunnier skies,” he said.

Mr. Resch says the nation’s solar industry is ready to help states meet the challenge.

“Simply put, solar can be a real game-changer for regulators looking to meet the changing needs of their state. Why? Because solar energy is reliable, cost competitive, environmentally friendly and easily scalable, fitting the needs of any state’s Section 111 (d) compliance plan.”

As we reported earlier, cumulative operating solar PV capacity reached 13,395 MW at the end of Q1 2014 in the USA and 74% of new electricity generation capacity in the USA added during the period was solar.

“Solar is now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,000 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas. All totalled, solar is generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to power 3 million homes,” said Mr. Resch.

The EPA says the proposed regulations will result in the avoidance of up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days – and this will provide up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. It also states the efforts will reduce electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

With the renewable energy revolution gaining pace and spurred on by initiatives such as the EPA proposes, it seems investing in coal is becoming an increasingly risky affair.

June 2, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Barack Obama takes action on climate change

Obama-and-windObama to unveil historic climate change plan to cut US carbon pollution

• Proposed regulations could cut carbon pollution by up to 25%
• President still faces potential opposition from Republicans

• Q&A: why the carbon proposal could make climate history

, US environment correspondent  theguardian.com, Friday 30 May 2014  President Barack Obama will unveil a plan on Monday that will cut carbon pollution from power plants and promote cap-and-trade, undertaking the most significant action on climate change in American history.

The proposed regulations Obama will launch at the White House on Monday could cut carbon pollution by as much as 25% from about 1,600 power plants in operation today, according to those claiming familiarity with the plan.

Power plants are the country’s single biggest source of carbon pollution – responsible for up to 40% of the country’s emissions.

The rules, which were drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and are under review by the White House, are expected to do more than Obama, or any other president, has done so far to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change.

They will put America on course to meet its international climate goal, and put US diplomats in a better position to leverage climate commitments from big polluters such as China and India, Obama said in a speech to West Point graduates this week.

“I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet,” he said. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can not exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

It won’t be without a fight. Obama went on in his remarks at West Point to take a shot at Republicans who deny climate change is occurring, and the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, on Thursday accused critics of making “doomsday claims” about the costs of cutting carbon…….

Obama had originally hoped to cut carbon pollution by moving a bill through Congress. Four years after that effort fell apart, campaigners say the EPA rules could deliver significant emissions cuts – near the 17% Obama proposed at the Copenhagen climate summit – and the cap-and-trade programmes that were so reviled by Republicans.

The EPA, using its authority under the Clean Air Act, proposed the first rule phase, covering future power plants, last September.

In this the more politically contentious phase of the plan, it is widely believed the EPA will depart from the “inside the fence-line” convention of earlier environmental regulations for mercury and other pollutants, which focused on emissions-scrubbing on specific power plants.

The EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is seeking steep reductions – as much as 25% – but she has hinted repeatedly that she will allow states latitude in how they reach those targets.

The plan would allow electricity companies to reduce pollution by shutting down the oldest and most polluting coal plants. They can install carbon-sucking retrofits. They can expand wind and solar energy, upgrade the electrical grid, encourage customers to update to more efficient heating and cooling systems, or more efficient appliances and lightbulbs.

“They have recognised huge emissions reductions opportunities are often cheaper than trying to do it all inside the plant,” said David Doniger, who heads the climate programme at the NRDC. “If you want to get substantial reductions and you want to get it economically, you have to take into account a system-wide approach.”…….http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/29/obama-unveil-historic-climate-plan-carbon-pollution

 

 

May 30, 2014 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Extremely cold winter USA happens less often but may be linked to climate change

Warm Pacific may cause US winter freeze, study finds SMH, 24 May 14 Unusually warm western Pacific waters linked to global warming may be the paradoxical cause of a bone-chilling winter in parts of the United States this year, a scientific study said on Thursday.

The theory contrasts with other experts’ views, including that the freeze was simply a freak natural event or that it was linked to a thawing of the Arctic in recent years that sent a blast of cold air south.

“People’s reaction when they sit under 10 feet of snow is to say ‘this cannot be man-made climate change’,” said Professor Tim Palmer of Oxford University, who published his research in the journal Science. “But there is a plausible link,” he told Reuters.

He said a strengthening of trade winds had led to a build-up of warm water in the western tropical Pacific, aggravated in recent years by global warming from man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

Thunderstorms linked to the warmth in turn disrupted the jetstream, high altitude winds which flow in vast meandering loops around the northern hemisphere, and sucked cold air from the Arctic. Detroit, for instance, suffered record snows and the coldest January since 1977.

Pinpointing the causes of the US chill, when climate change should make cold winters less likely, would help companies, farmers, city planners or even home owners wondering if they should invest in extra roof insulation.

Two other experts were unconvinced by Palmer’s study………

So far there is limited understanding of how weather in one part of the world can affect another.

Weather experts agree, however, that the El Nino weather phenomenon that mainly cools the eastern Pacific Ocean every few years can cause droughts or downpours on other continents.

Palmer told Reuters that his theory, building on a 1980s study he wrote suggesting a link between a chill 1976-77 US winter and a warm Pacific, could be tested because there are signs that an El Nino will form later this year.

An El Nino would also cool the western Pacific and that meant a cold US winter was less likely in 2014-15, he said.

A U.N. panel of climate scientists says it is at least 95 per cent probable that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, are the main cause of warming since the 1950s, and will cause more heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.  http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/warm-pacific-may-cause-us-winter-freeze-study-finds-20140523-zrlnj.html#ixzz32fmyw5TO

May 24, 2014 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment

It’s a Pro Life issue: Conservative Christians want action on climate change

globe-warmingEvangelical Group: Climate Change Is A ‘Pro-Life’ Issue  CLIMATE PROGRESS, BY KATIE VALENTINE MAY 20, 2014  A GROUP OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS ARE CALLING ON FLORIDA GOV. RICK SCOTT TO CREATE A PLAN TO MITIGATE AND ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE, HOPING THAT THEIR MESSAGE WILL RESONATE WITH SCOTT’S STAUNCH CHRISTIAN VALUES.

Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), is leading the group’s campaign for Scott to recognize climate change as a major threat in Florida. EEN is collecting signatures for a petition asking Gov. Scott to create a plan for climate change, one which so far has garnered about 12,000 signatures. Hescox told ThinkProgress that EEN chose to focus on Florida because of its vulnerability to climate change — Floridians, especially in the Southeast region of the state, are already struggling to adapt to rising seas that lead to sunny-day flooding and stronger storm surges.

“We wanted to help the evangelical church understand in Florida that climate change is not a liberal issue or any issue other than a people issue,” he said.

Gov. Scott, however, has expressed doubt before that climate change is occurring — in 2010, he told reporters he hadn’t “been convinced” that the problem existed, and last week, he avoided a question on whether his 2010 beliefs are the same today by responding, “I’m not a scientist.”……..

The group emphasizes creation care, the idea that humans have a duty to take care of the Earth, because the Earth and its creatures are the creation of God and to love God’s creation is to love God. The group also notes that the poor are often those who are affected most by pollution, and many Christians believe they have a duty to help the poor.

“The first real handbook of sustainability is the Biblical book of Leviticus. It talks about crop rotation, about how to care about animals,” Hescox said. “That’s why it’s a matter of life for us — everything we do, as human beings, to mess up God’s creation impacts human life.”

Hescox pointed to the suffering climate change has caused around the world as reason why climate change is something Christians should care about. Air pollution is linked to asthmakidney disease and heart problems, and climate change is expected to cause a rise in vectorborne illnesses like malaria and West Nile. These are some of the most compelling reasons to act on climate change, Hescox said.

“For us, it’s a pro-life issue,” he said. “We are pro-life from conception to natural death, and we believe anything that affects the quality of life is something that’s a pro-life value.”………http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/05/20/3439695/evangelical-environmental-network-rick-scott-petition/

May 21, 2014 Posted by | climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

USA East Coast nuclear power plants set to sink under rising seas

climate-changeHow Rising Seas Could Sink Nuclear Plants On The East Coast Shane Shifflett Kate Sheppard, HUFFINGTON POST, 19 May 14 In 2011, a tsunami sent waves as high as 49 feet crashing over the seawalls surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, causing meltdowns at three of the plant’s reactors. After that incident, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ordered nuclear facilities in the U.S. to review and update their plans for addressing extreme seismic activity and potential flooding from other  events, such as sea level rise and storm surges. Those plans aren’t due until March 2015, which means that many plants have yet to even lay out their their potential vulnerabilities, let alone address them.

nuke-&-seaL

 During the 1970s and 1980s, when many nuclear reactors were first built, most operators estimated that seas would rise at a slow, constant rate. That is, if the oceans rose a fraction of an inch one year, they could be expected to rise by the same amount the next year and every year in the future.

But the seas are now rising much faster than they did in the past, largely due to climate change, which accelerates thermal expansion and melts glaciers and ice caps. Sea levels rose an average of 8 inches between 1880 and 2009, or about 0.06 inches per year. But in the last 20 years, sea levels have risen an average of 0.13 inches per year – about twice as fast.

And it’s only getting worse. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has laid out four different projections for estimated sea level rise by 2100. Even the agency’s best-case scenario assumes that sea levels will rise at least 8.4 inches by the end of this century. NOAA’s worst-case scenario, meanwhile, predicts that the oceans will rise nearly 7 feet in the next 86 years.

But most nuclear power facilities were built well before scientists understood just how high sea levels might rise in the future. And for power plants, the most serious threat is likely to come from surges during storms. Higher sea levels mean that flooding will travel farther inland, creating potential hazards in areas that may have previously been considered safe. During Superstorm Sandy, for example, flooding threatened the water intake systems at the Oyster Creek and Salem nuclear power plants in New Jersey. As a safety precaution, both plants were powered down. But even when a plant is not operating, the spent fuel stored on-site, typically uranium, will continue to emit heat and must be cooled using equipment that relies on the plant’s own power. Flooding can cause a loss of power, and in serious conditions it can damage backup generators. Without a cooling system, reactors can overheat and damage the facility to the point of releasing radioactive material.

Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations Operated by PSEG Nuclear, LLC.……..

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station Operated by Florida Power & Light Co……..

St. Lucie Plant Operated by Florida Power & Light Co……..
Brunswick Steam Electric Plant Operated by Carolina Power & Light C….
Seabrook Station – Operated by NextEra Energy Seabrook, LL…..
South Texas Project Operated by STP Nuclear Operating Co……
Millstone Power Station Operated by Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc…..
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station Operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc………http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/maps-rising-seas-storms-threaten-flood-coastal-nuclear-power-plants_n_5233306.html

May 20, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Melting shells of the sea butterflies – a sign of global warming endangering oceans

sea-butterlyYou Know the Ocean’s in Trouble When Your Shell Starts Melting http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/47393 Things are getting really dicey for a little ocean creature called a pteropod. Better known as the “sea butterfly,” this delicate little sea snail is serving as an unfortunate bellwether of the deteriorating state of our oceans. Why? Conditions in the Antarctic ocean and along the West Coast of the U.S. have become so unnaturally acidic that the shells of sea butterflies are literally dissolving away.

“We did not expect to see pteropods being affected to this extent in our coastal region for several decades,” said Dr. William Peterson, an oceanographer at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, in a NOAA press release.

Damage that’s “several decades” early is a big alarm bell. We’d better pay close attention before it’s too late.

undersea_light_What We’re Doing to Our Oceans

The chemistry of the world’s oceans is changing, thanks to the carbon dioxide humans continue to spew into our atmosphere. Oceans absorb between one quarter to one third of that carbon dioxide. Over time, it has turned the ocean from a slightly alkaline state to a bit more acidic.

According to some estimates, the ocean’s pH level 150 years ago was about 8.2. It’s now about 8.1. It may seem to be an infinitesimal shift, but it’s worse than it sounds. The more acidic the ocean gets, the harder it is for marine life like oysters, clams and corals to form calcium carbonite skeletons and shells.

In the case of pteropods, the increased acidity of the ocean is actually eating away at their shells.

“The first thing that happens is the dissolution of their shell,” NOAA’s Dr. Nina Bednarsek told PBS. “Dissolution can be mild, [to] very severe. Once you have it dissolving on the outside, you have to put so much more energy into the shell in order to maintain it. The energy that you would otherwise use for other important physiological maintenance you are putting in the shell maintenance.”

Researchers working off the coast of Oregon, Washington and California in 2011 discovered that over half of the sea butterflies they found onshore were victims of “severe dissolution damage.” Offshore, about 24 percent were damaged.

If we don’t change our ways, by 2050, researchers estimate that coastal waters will be 70 percent more acidic than they were in the pre-industrial era.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.

May 16, 2014 Posted by | climate change, oceans, USA | Leave a comment

UK climate denial organisation’s plan to avoid having to be accurate

Nigel Lawson’s climate sceptic thinktank to launch campaigning arm http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/09/nigel-lawson-climate-sceptic-thinktank Global Warming Policy Forum will escape scrutiny for accuracy of information by becoming a non-charitable company Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent theguardian.com, Saturday 10 May 2014  The climate sceptic organisation founded by former chancellor Nigel Lawson is to set up a new campaigning arm, which would be free from charity regulations.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is classified as an educational charity and thus covered by strict Charity Commission rules that restrict its ability to conduct political campaigns, said that the new non-charitable company would undertake “activities which do not fall squarely within the educational remit of the charity”.Similar structures are also used by some other non-profit organisations, because it gives them greater freedom in lobbying and in some commercial activities.

The new arm, to be called the Global Warming Policy Forum, will share the same website and initials and publish reports and research papers, as well as organising lectures and debates on science and policy. In particular, it will put out news articles and opinion columns through a section of its website.

If the Charity Commission agrees with the restructuring, the new organisation will start operating by the end of July.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, last yearcomplained to the Charity Commission, over what he saw as the dissemination by the GWPF of “misleading and inaccurate” information. Charity Commission rules require organisations granted charitable status – which allows them, and their donors, to benefit from favourable tax treatment – to ensure that any information they put out is fair and as accurate as possible.

Ward said: “I think it is apparent that this move is designed to get around Charity Commission rules that specify that it must not disseminate inaccurate information. It is a deeply cynical move by the Foundation to avoid any formal requirement that they should stop misleading the public with inaccurate information. However, I hope now that it will be more obvious that when Lord Lawson speaks about climate change, it is as a campaigner rather than as an expert. And at least its secret donors will no longer be able to claim tax relief on funding the Foundation’s political propaganda.”

Greenpeace, which was named by the GWPF as an organisation that operates a campaigning arm as well as its core charity, told the Guardian: “They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But he said that if Lord Lawson really wants to emulate Greenpeace’s structure he should be open about where his funding comes from and “root his political campaign in the reality of climate science.”

The GWPF does not disclose the names of organisations or individuals who provide its funding, but says that fossil fuel companies are not among them. It did not respond to requests for comment.

May 10, 2014 Posted by | climate change, spinbuster, UK | 1 Comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,122 other followers