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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear weapons, path to global suicide – theme for August 2016

“In the end, there beckons, more and more clearly, general annihilation” – Albert Einstein 1945

Hiroshima-drawingToday, I read an article about how superior we are to other species. Really, I thought?  What other species is poisoning the planet’s air, land and water, with its carbon and chemical pollution? And we are SO intelligent compared to other species: we can write, and build computers, and fly into space!

And what other species delights in enriching a few greedy individuals by paying them to build wonderful nuclear bombs that can destroy ALL the species on the planet, as well as their own? How clever is that?

Hiroshima-drawing-1And if the weapons industries are criticised, why – the reasoning is – they provide JOBS. What sort of jobs, particularly in the nuclear weapons area?  Jobs that have already killed 33,480 workers due to ionising radiation. And that’s just in America alone.

Meanwhile – thousands of clean, positive jobs could be provided by using the obscene amounts of tax-payers’ money that go into buying nuclear, and other weapons.

And yet, and yet, our species IS capable of learning – even the sociopathic types of people that rise to leadership positions can learn, as well as the billions of normal humans who want peace and a humanitarian society.

At left,  drawings by Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing, August 1945

 

 

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Christina's themes | 2 Comments

Montreal Declaration For A Nuclear Fission Free World

We invite all people, groups and organizations involved in the effort for a world without nuclear fission and uranium mining, to commit themselves to this effort. We also ask them to endorse this declaration and to transmit it widely in their networks.

This declaration is partly inspired by the Tokyo Appeal issued by the First Thematic World Social Form for a Nuclear-Free World held in Tokyo and Fukushima in March 2016.

People and organizations who wish to sign this statement should write to ccnr@web.ca, indicating their e-mail addresses and country.

renewables-not-nukes

 http://www.globalresearch.ca/montreal-declaration-for-nuclear-fission-free-world/5542890 By Countercurrents.org Global Research, August 28, 2016 By Global Network for a nuclear-free world.

As citizens of this planet inspired by the Second Thematic World Social Forum for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World, conducted in Montreal from August 8 to August 12, 2016, we are collectively calling for a mobilization of civil society around the world to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons, to put an end to the continued mass-production of all high-level nuclear wastes by phasing out all nuclear reactors, and to bring to a halt all uranium mining worldwide.

This call goes out to fellow citizens of all countries worldwide who see the need, whether as an individual or as a member of an organization, for a nuclear-fission-free world. We are committed to building a global network of citizens of the world who will work together, using the internet and social media to overcome isolation, to provide mutual support and to coordinate the launching of joint actions for a world free of nuclear fission technology, whether civilian or military.

We will begin by creating communication channels to share information and educational tools on legal, technical, financial, medical, and security-related matters linked to military and non-military nuclear activities. We will pool our resources across national boundaries in a spirit of cooperation, allowing us to contribute to the formulation of a convergent and unified response to counteract the plans of the nuclear establishment that operates on a global scale to multiply civil and military nuclear installations worldwide and to dump, bury and abandon nuclear wastes.

We recognize each nuclear weapon as an instrument of brutal and unsurpassed terror, designed to kill millions of innocent men, women and children at a single stroke. We realize that even a limited nuclear war can provoke sudden extreme climate change on a global scale, crippling agricultural production and threatening the survival of all higher forms of life. We are grimly aware that a nuclear-armed world will surely destroy itself and set in motion a process that will undo four billion years of evolution. We are determined to help guide the world away from the brink of nuclear annihilation.

We recognize each nuclear reactor as a repository of the most pernicious industrial waste ever known; waste so radioactive that it spontaneously melts down if not continually cooled; waste that, when targeted by terrorists or saboteurs, or by conventional warfare, will render large portions of the earth uninhabitable for centuries; waste that contains material that can be used as a nuclear explosive at any time in the future, for thousands of years to come.

We recognize uranium as the key element behind all nuclear weapons and all nuclear reactors, and we endorse the call by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and by the 2015 Quebec World Uranium Symposium for a total global ban on the mining and processing of uranium.

We will use our networks

  • to pressure governments everywhere to put an end to nuclear fission;
  • to expose the dangers associated with the export and transport of nuclear materials and nuclear waste;
  • to puncture the myths used to prop up and justify our irrational nuclear addiction;
  • to tell the sobering stories of nuclear victims and nuclear refugees;
  • to emphasize our moral responsibilities not to burden future generations with a poisonous nuclear legacy;
  • to warn governments without nuclear facilities to realize the dangers and avoid becoming enmeshed in this technology;
  • to disseminate the findings of engineers, doctors, biologists, ecologists, physicists and concerned citizens having special knowledge and appreciation of nuclear dangers;
  • to promote and popularize the wide variety of renewable energy alternatives that are green and sustainable;
  • to launch lawsuits and to support whistle-blowers to halt the most egregious examples of nuclear malfeasance;
  • to promote non-violent conflict resolution, and
  • to denounce the illegal, immoral, and insane obsession with nuclear weapons arsenals.

We invite all people, groups and organizations involved in the effort for a world without nuclear fission and uranium mining, to commit themselves to this effort. We also ask them to endorse this declaration and to transmit it widely in their networks.

This declaration is partly inspired by the Tokyo Appeal issued by the First Thematic World Social Form for a Nuclear-Free World held in Tokyo and Fukushima in March 2016.

People and organizations who wish to sign this statement should write to ccnr@web.ca, indicating their e-mail addresses and country.

 

August 29, 2016 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

“State of the Climate 2016” – the 10 most startling facts

Book State of the climate 15The 10 most startling facts about climate in 2015 — the warmest year on record [excellent maps and graphs]  WP, By Jason Samenow August 2 Last year was unequivocally the warmest year on record for Earth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Tuesday released a 300-page report documenting the historic warmth as well as scores of other aspects of 2015’s climate.

The hefty report, State of the Climate in 2015, was produced by more than 450 scientists from 62 countries around the world — more than any previous edition.

Every single direct indicator of temperature described in the report leaves no doubt that 2015’s global surface temperature towered over any year preceding it. Numerous other climate indicators related to temperature exhibited characteristics consistent with such historic warmth.

2015’s exceptional warmth was fueled by a record-challenging El Niño event, in which warmer-than-normal tropical Pacific Ocean waters infused heat into the atmosphere, and by record-setting concentrations of heat-trapping gases from human activity.

Here are the 10 most impressive findings from this report:

1. The global temperature was the highest on record…….

2. The average ocean surface temperature was warmest on record…..

3. Upper ocean heat content was highest on record…..

4. Global sea level was highest on record…..

5. The El Niño event was among the strongest on record……

6. Greenhouse gases were highest on record……

7. Record number of major tropical cyclones in Northern Hemisphere…….

8. Arctic sea ice had its lowest maximum extent……

9. Glaciers continued shrinking….

10. Extreme temperatures were most extreme on record……

The report is available online and will be published by the Bulletin of the America Meteorological Society. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/08/02/the-10-most-startling-facts-about-climate-in-2015-the-warmest-year-on-record/

August 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

$8.8 Trillion Climate Tab left for next generation, if climate “business as usual”

Report Shows Whopping $8.8 Trillion Climate Tab Being Left for Next Generation
26 August 2016 
http://www.skepticalscience.com/9-trillion-climate-tab.html This is a re-post from Common Dreams by Lauren McCauley

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” is an oft-quoted proverb, frequently used to explain the importance of environmental preservation. Unsaid, however, is how much it will impact the next generation if the Earth is bequeathed in a lesser state.

Environmental campaigners NextGen Climate and public policy group Demos published a new study that attempts to quantify the true cost of not addressing climate change to the millennial generation and their children.

graph-Climate-Action_vs_Ina

The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future (pdf) compares some of the high costs millennials will face in the “new inequality economy”—such as student debt, child care costs, stagnant wages, as well as financial and job insecurity—against the fiscal impacts of unmitigated global warming.

“The fact is,” the report states, “unchecked climate change will impose heavy costs on millennials and subsequent generations, both directly in the form of reduced incomes and wealth, and indirectly through likely higher tax bills as extreme weather, rising sea levels,drought, heat-related health problems, and many other climate change-related problems take their toll on our society.”

The impacts from climate costs alone, the report finds, are “comparable to Great Depression-era losses.” The study employs a model developed by researchers from Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley that measures the effects of rising temperatures on long-term economic growth and national productivity drawing on 50 years of data from 166 countries.

“no climate action” scenario found that by 2100 global per capita GDP will shrink by 23 percent relative to a scenario without climate change. The U.S. is estimated to take a 5 percent hit by 2050 that jumps to 36 percent by 2100 should no climate action occur.

This adds up to a loss of nearly $8.8 trillion in lifetime income for millennials and tens of trillions for their children.

“For the millennial generation, today’s status quo on climate and inequality is not only unjust but it is also unsustainable.”

In comparison, the cost of climate inaction overshadows the significant losses from other economic burdens, such as student debt. The report states:

According to Demos calculations, for a median- earning college graduate with median student debt, the lifetime wealth loss due to student debt is approximately $113,000, which is 40 percent less than the $187,000 lifetimewealth loss of a college- educated, median-earning 21-year-old if we fail to act on climate change.

But when these myriad forces are stacked together, they add up to a staggering burden. The report further highlights how climate inaction only exacerbates preexisting inequality:

Communities of color and low-income communities will be hit the hardest, as these communities have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change […]. Further, these same communities have always had the highest exposure to coal-burning power plants and other sources of fossil fuel pollution, with sharply negative health impacts […]

If the transition to a clean energy economy is delayed, or if it is implemented unequally in keeping with historical patterns of racial exclusion, the fossil fuel economy will only deepen its toll on the health and well-being of America’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

What’s more, the report notes, “the economic risks are compounded even further since inaction on climate change means that we are missing out on a major opportunity for much-needed new investment and millions of new jobs by transitioning to clean energy.”

August 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change | Leave a comment

Iran arrests member of Nuclear Deal Negotiation Team on suspicion of spying

flag-IranIran Arrests Member Of Nuclear Deal Negotiation Team http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/iran-nuclear-deal-arrest_us_57c2e81ce4b04193420f8788 Spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said a member of the team was arrested on suspicion of spying.
 08/28/2016 DUBAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Iran has arrested a member of the negotiating team that reached a landmark nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of spying, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday.

The suspect was released on bail after a few days in jail but is still under investigation, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said at a weekly news conference, calling the unidentified individual a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team,” state media reported.

The deal that President Hassan Rouhani struck last year has given Iran relief from most international sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program, but it is opposed by hardliners who see it as a capitulation to the United States.

Ejei was responding to a question about an Iranian lawmaker’s assertion last week that a member of the negotiation team who had dual nationality had been arrested on espionage charges.

Tehran’s prosecutor general on Aug. 16 announced the arrest of a dual national he said was linked to British intelligence, but made no mention of the person being in the nuclear negotiations team. On Sunday, Ejei did not explicitly confirm that the arrested person had a second nationality.

Britain said on Aug. 16 that it was trying to find out more about the arrest of a joint-national.

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Iran, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nuclear supporters launche last-ditch push for approval of UK’s Hinkley Point project

flag-UKHinkley supporters in last-ditch push for approval  Union leaders call for an end to ‘faffing’ over £18bn scheme, Ft.com   by: Andrew Ward and Jim Pickard in London, 28 Aug 16 

Supporters of the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station have launched a last-ditch push for approval as Theresa May, prime minister, nears a decision on whether to go ahead with the £18bn project.

UK union leaders on Sunday called for an end to the “faffing” over a scheme they say is crucial to keeping Britain’s lights on, after EDF, the French company planning to build the Somerset plant, sought to ease security concerns over Chinese involvement.

The comments signalled a fight back against critics of Hinkley, whose arguments have appeared to be in the ascendancy since Mrs May ordered a review of the politically sensitive project last month………https://www.ft.com/content/216e2eb0-6d14-11e6-9ac1-1055824ca907

August 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK nuclear police admit to increased number of security breaches

terrorism-targets-2flag-UKTerror fears after series of security breaches at nuclear power stations, Herald Scotland Neil Mackay , 28 Aug 16, THE police force charged with guarding UK nuclear power plants has admitted to a substantial increase in the number of breaches of security last year.

There were 21 separate incidents involving stolen or lost smart phones and identity cards, up from 13 the previous year.

In one case a Blackberry was taken in a “domestic burglary”, and in another a SIM card was “accidently thrown in disposal chute at home address.” Emails containing sensitive information, including an armoury access code and personal data, were sent in breach of security protocols.

“Terrorists must be delighted with this catalogue of cock-ups,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

“It seems you just have to follow some nuclear police around for a while and they’ll drop their pass in a car park, leave a work phone on the train or accidentally send secret info through Google mail. It would be laughable if it wasn’t about the safety of some of the most dangerous sites in the UK.”

The revelations uncovered by the Sunday Herald have been condemned as well as prompting alarm from campaigners and politicians. They point out that there have recently been concerns about Chinese state companies stealing nuclear industry secrets.

One of the reasons why the Prime Minister Theresa May is thought to have delayed a decision last month on a long-planned £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is the 33 per cent stake by the China General Nuclear Power Company. The company has been charged with nuclear espionage by the US government.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is responsible for policing 11 nuclear sites across the UK. They include three in Scotland – the former fast reactor establishment at Dounreay in Caithness and the nuclear power stations at Hunterston in North Ayrshire and Torness in East Lothian.

The CNC has an annual budget of £100 million and 1,100 armed police officers with access to eight different weapons systems. Its latest annual report, published online, disclosed the 21 security breaches in the year to this April, compared to 13 in 2014-15.

Five were categorised as “loss or theft of protectively marked electronic equipment, devices or paper documents from outside secured CNC premises”. A further six breaches were “unauthorised disclosure through insecure transmission of protectively marked documents”. Ten more were said to be “low-level…….

Dr David Lowry, a senior research fellow at the US Institute for Resource and Security Studies, also highlighted security concerns about Chinese involvement. “It sets alarm bells ringing that so many security failures could have happened at a time when there are plans to expand the UK nuclear industry,” he said.

Lowry pointed out that the government watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, had stated in its 2015-16 annual report that there were areas where security arrangements at nuclear plants “did not fully meet regulatory expectations”……..http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14709247.Terror_fears_after_series_of_security_breaches_at_nuclear_power_stations/

August 29, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Monolithic tomb for San Onofre’s spent nuclear fuel

At San Onofre, spent nuclear fuel is getting special tomb Orange County Register, Aug. 28, 2016 ,By TERI SFORZA  “……..Once, San Onofre was a marvel of modern engineering – splitting atoms to create heat, boiling water to spin turbines and creating electricity that fulfilled 18 percent of Southern California’s demand. Now, it’s a demolition project of mind-boggling proportions, overseen by a dozen government agencies.

It’s expected to cost $4.4 billion, take 20 years and leave millions of pounds of spent nuclear fuel on the scenic bluff beside the blue Pacific until 2049 or so, because the federal government has dithered for generations on finding a permanent repository.

In this vacuum, contractors from Holtec International – one of only a handful of companies licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do dry-cask radiation storage in the U.S. – are at work. Construction of the controversial “concrete monolith” to protect San Onofre’s stranded waste has begun, over the protests of critics who decry a “beachfront nuclear waste dump.”

san-onofre-deadf

THE MONOLITH

The reinforced concrete pad that will support the monolith is finished.

Last week, Holtec workers used cranes and trucks to maneuver the first of 75 giant tubes into place atop it. When those tubes are bolted in, concrete will be poured up to their necks, and they’ll be topped off with a 24,000-pound steel-and-concrete lid. Earth will be piled around it so that it looks something like an underground bunker.

Southern California Edison, which operates the plant, would not share the Holtec contract or reveal its price tag, but San Onofre’s owners have recovered more than $300 million from the federal government for its failure to dispose of nuclear waste, which is why dry-cask storage must be built in the first place. San Onofre’s decommissioning plan sets aside $1.27 billion for future spent fuel management.

This is one of the first newly licensed Hi-Storm Umax dry-cask storage systems Holtec is building in the United States. Once it’s complete – expected to be late next year – workers will begin the deliberate and delicate dance of removing all spent fuel from cooling pools beside each reactor.

The iconic twin domes you see from the highway and the beach don’t reveal their enormity. They stand as tall as a 13-story building, and the adjacent pools holding their spent fuel are 25 feet wide, 60 feet long, about 40 to 50 feet deep and hold a half-million gallons of water.

When Southern California Edison begins removing the 2,668 fuel assemblies chilling there, bays to those enormous pools will open. Holtec storage canisters will be lowered in. Underwater, 37 spent fuel assemblies will be loaded into each canister and capped. The canister will be slipped into a “transfer cask,” lifted from the pool and drained.

Then it will be loaded onto a truck, driven a few hundred yards to the Umax and lowered into one of those 75 tubes. The waste-filled canister will remain inside. The transfer cask will be removed. The tube will be capped.

This will be repeated more than 70 times, until all the fuel in the more vulnerable pools is entombed in more stable dry-cask storage. That’s slated to be done by mid-2019.

TECHNOLOGY

The system will become something of a real-time experiment: Edison is partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop inspection techniques to monitor the casks as they age. The casks’ integrity over time, while holding hotter “high burn-up” fuel, is a major concern of critics.

“Burn-up” – i.e., the amount of uranium that undergoes fission – has increased over time, allowing utilities to suck more power out of nuclear fuel before replacing it, federal regulators say. It first came into wide use in America in the latter part of the last century, and how it will behave in short-term storage containers (which, pending changes in U.S. policy on nuclear cleanup, must be used for longer-term storage) remains a topic of debate……..

ry-cask technology is not new, he said. Nuclear power plants in the U.S. have used it since 1986, and an analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute found that it would take at least 80 years before a severe crack could form in a dry storage canister.

The Umax uses the most corrosion-resistant grade of stainless steel; its design exceeds California earthquake requirements, and it protects against hazards such as water, fire or tsunamis.

Critics cast skeptical eyes on those claims.

They don’t disagree that dry storage is safer than the spent fuel pools, but activist Donna Gilmore says officials gloss over the potential for serious cracking – a bigger risk in a moist, salty, oceanfront environment such as San Onofre.

Once a crack starts, it would continue to grow through the wall of the canister, undetected, until it leaked radiation, Gilmore said.

Other countries use thicker-walled casks than those licensed in America, and she believes we should, too.

EYES FORWARD

What everyone wants is to remove the ensconced “stranded waste” from San Onofre as soon as possible, and the only way that can happen is if the federal government takes action.

Palmisano said energy is best expended pushing that forward, not arguing over canisters.

On that front, he is cautiously optimistic.

In January, the U.S. Department of Energy launched a new push to create temporary nuclear waste storage sites in regions eager for the business, currently in West Texas and New Mexico. Several of those could be up and running while the prickly question of coming up with a permanent site is hashed out.

There could be a plan, and a place, for this waste within the next 10 years, Palmisano said – but that would require congressional action, which in turn would likely require much prodding from the public.

“We are frustrated and, frankly, outraged by the federal government’s failure to perform,” he said. “I have fuel I can ship today, and throughout the next 15 years. Give me a ZIP code and I’ll get it there.”…..http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nuclear-727227-fuel-storage.html

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Some “nuclear umbrella” States feel trapped by their nuclear weapons protection

The great nuclear disarmament divide,   “……On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, and on the other, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by it, Livemint, 29 Aug 16 W.P.S. Sidhu, Austria, which remained neutral and nuclear weapon-free during the Cold War, has become the leading anti-nuclear crusader in the post-Cold War era. Last year, Austria, along with a group of non-nuclear countries—mostly from the southern hemisphere and Africa, which is entirely covered by nuclear weapon-free zones—proposed several United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions including on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. One of the significant Austrian co-sponsored resolutions proposed an open-ended working group (OEWG) to take forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.

Although this resolution was overwhelmingly supported by 138 countries, the five permanent nuclear weapon states of the UN Security Council plus Israel voted against it. While India and Pakistan abstained, North Korea, curiously, supported the resolution. Significantly, 34 states—mostly members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) and those protected by the US nuclear umbrella—also abstained.

nuclear-weapons-3

Subsequently, while all nine nuclear-armed states (including India) stayed away from the OEWG deliberations in Geneva, the group made substantial progress. By 19 August, the group’s final report had drafted far-reaching recommendations, including a call to initiate negotiations in 2017 on a legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons—unlike biological and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons have never been banned. There were indications that this report would be carried by consensus among the states participating in the OEWG. Clearly, a consensus report recommending a treaty to ban nuclear weapons outright would be anathema not only for the nuclear armed states but also the so-called ‘umbrella states’, which depend on the nuclear protection particularly of the US. Thus, the nuclear-armed states sought to influence the OEWG process by proxy.

Enter Australia. In the past, Australia played a leading role in pushing disarmament initiatives, for instance, when it resurrected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996 and co-sponsored an International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in 2008. However, this is at odds with its dependence on nuclear weapons.

As an umbrella state, it depends on the perceived security of US nuclear weapons. In the OEWG, Australia became a proxy of nuclear weapon states and a disarmament spoiler: it called for a vote on the group’s final report even though it was evident that the majority would support the report’s recommendations.

Australia’s objective was two-fold: first, to break the emerging consensus and, second, to close ranks among all the umbrella states. Australia almost succeeded in its second goal. Although 19 Nato states plus Australia and South Korea voted against the report, several other Nato members plus Japan abstai-ned, indicating that not all umbrella states are willing to sustain nuclear weapons and deterrence in perpetuity.

The OEWG process reflects a great disarmament divide not only among the nuclear haves and have-nots, but also among the umbrella states. On the one hand, there are umbrella states that are addicted to their nuclear protection, even though it is not apparent that such security is omnipotent. On the other hand, there are umbrella states that clearly feel trapped by the protection provided, but are unsure how get out of this situation. This debate will now play out on the floor of the UNGA…..http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/4smGv8MNF3hg63Y1WpRzQL/The-great-nuclear-disarmament-divide.html

August 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Can the world cope with increasing pace of climate change?

climate SOSCan progress on climate change keep up with its quickening pace? WP, By Tom Steyer August 26 Tom Steyer is founder of the advocacy group NextGen Climate. July was the hottest month in recorded history, by a lot, and August isn’t looking any better.  So how do we interpret that? What does it mean?

…. global climate change… may be happening faster than scientists previously predicted. Monthly global average temperatures have set records in each of the past 15 months . The concomitant climate events have been extreme: from wildfires burning in California to floods in Baton Rouge after rainfall of historic proportions to neurotoxic algae bloomschoking Florida beaches. Even the beloved moose of New Hampshire have been decimated by ticks that thrive in a warmer world……If the new analyses imply an unpredictable and riskier world, that will necessitate a more urgent, and more difficult, response. Based on initial data, it now appears possible that the climate will warm by 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels — an amount of warming that scientists consider the danger zone — not by 2050, as once predicted, but years earlier. If further analysis supports this conclusion, this would be an enormous, and scary, change…..

if scientists start to project a dramatically shorter timeline for the impacts of climate change, any comfortable replacement scenario becomes something much more daunting. If we don’t have the decades needed for the vast bulk of our productive capacity to be replaced in the normal course, we would need to replace assets that had not reached the end of their usable lives — and that would affect industries beyond purely oil and gas.

Regardless of the scientific projections, we cannot afford to repeat the painfully slow and politically motivated dance of the past 10 years. As new data and analysis become available over the next year or so, we must be prepared to act decisively even though the cautious critics will want to wait for more definitive information. We will never have 100 percent certainty, except in hindsight. …..

Even cautious scientists are debating whether the previously accepted climate timelines are overly conservative. Meanwhile, Mother Nature has a timeline of her own. And she calls the tune. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/can-progress-on-climate-change-keep-up-with-its-quickening-pace/2016/08/26/f5934118-68b8-11e6-8225-fbb8a6fc65bc_story.html?utm_term=.5d5c88ee5f7b

August 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Desalinising water for drinking, by use of a Solar-powered Pipe

solar pipe desalinate California

Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for
California, http://inhabitat.com/solar-powered-pipe-desalinizes-1-5-billion-gallons-of-clean-drinking-water-for-california/ Inhabitat, by , 29 aug 16 
The infrastructure California needs to generate energy for electricity and clean water, which will be significant, need not blight the landscape. Designs like The Pipe demonstrate how the provision of public services like these can be knitted into every day life in a healthy, aesthetically-pleasing way. A finalist of the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition for Santa Monica Pier, the solar-powered plant deploys electromagnetic desalination to provide clean drinking water for the city and filters the resulting brine through on-board thermal baths before it is reintroduced to the Pacific Ocean.

“LAGI 2016 comes to Southern California at an important time,” write Rob Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian,co-founders of the Land Art Generator Initiative. “The sustainable infrastructure that is required to meet California’s development goals and growing population will have a profound influence on the landscape. The Paris Climate Accord from COP 21 has united the world around a goal of 1.5–2° C, which will require a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure.”
For this particular competition, LAGI asked designers to submit proposals that incorporate either an energy or drinking water component, since they are inextricably intertwined, or both. Khalili Engineersfrom Canada chose to power an electromagnetic desalination device using solar power. And – in keeping with the public art and educational aspect of LAGI’s overall environmental and social crusade – The Pipe is a beautiful design that allows people to seamlessly interact with their source of drinking water without any of the unpleasant side effects typically associated with energy generation.
“Above, solar panels provide power to pump seawater through an electromagnetic filtration process below the pool deck, quietly providing the salt bath with its healing water and the city with clean drinking water,” the design team writes in their brief. “The Pipe represents a change in the future of water.”

According to Khalili Engineers, their design, a long gleaming thing visible from Santa Monica Pier, is capable of generating 10,000 MWh each year, which will in turn produce 4.5 billion liters (or 1.5 billion gallons) of drinking water. Given the current drought throughout California, and the dearth of water in general, a variety of urban micro generators such as this can complement utility-scale energy generation.

“What results are two products: pure drinkable water that is directed into the city’s primary water piping grid, and clear water with twelve percent salinity. The drinking water is piped to shore, while the salt water supplies the thermal baths before it is redirected back to the ocean through a smart release system, mitigating most of the usual problems associated with returning brine water to the sea.”

The winners of LAGI 2016 will be announced on October 6, 2016 at Greenbuild 2016.  + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica  + Khalili Engineers

August 29, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA, water | Leave a comment

China’s glaciers- the “third pole” are losing ice mass

How air pollution is causing the world’s ‘Third Pole’ to melt https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/08/24/how-air-pollution-is-causing-the-worlds-third-pole-to-melt/?utm_term=.2da2fe69b67f   By Chelsea Harvey August 24 In discussions about melting glaciers, most people think immediately of the vast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. But there’s another, less talked-about ice-filled region on Earth that’s also experiencing dramatic melt, with millions of humans’ livelihoods and water supply at stake.  
glaciers Himalayas
The snow-covered Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, spanning a broad area in Central and East Asia, together contain the largest ice mass on the planet outside of the polar regions. In fact, it’s earned itself the nickname of the “Third Pole.” But as in Greenland and Antarctica, there’s trouble afoot: Glaciers in the Third Pole are also shrinking.

According to remote sensing data collected and analyzed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, about 18 percent of China’s glaciers alone have disappeared over the past 50 years. And that’s a big problem because meltwater from these glaciers feeds a network of rivers that supply water, directly or indirectly, to more than a billion people downstream.

Rising temperatures, the product of global warming, are certainly one threat facing the glaciers, said Shichang Kang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research. But air pollution in the region is also helping to accelerate the melting. And now, Kang and a group of colleagues have helped shed some new light on where all this pollution is coming from and how it could be stopped.

In a new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers collected samples of black carbon — a particulate matter created through the burning of fossil fuels and biomass — throughout the Third Pole and analyzed them using a special chemical “fingerprinting” process that identifies what kind of burning produced them and where they originated.

Black carbon might be most famous for the range of adverse health effects it’s believed to cause, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems and even premature death. But in terms of its effects on glaciers, it’s known to cause snow and ice melt in a number of different ways. First, black carbon floating in the atmosphere is able to absorb sunlight and cause at least temporary regional warming as a result, Kang noted. Additionally, when black carbon deposits itself on snow and ice masses, it tends to darken their surfaces, causing them to absorb more sunlight and melt faster.

Until now, scientists have had trouble pinpointing which places are contributing pollution to which regions of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau and which types of sources are causing the most damage. That’s important information, not only for constructing accurate ice models to predict how the glaciers might change in the future, but also for writing new policies aimed at cutting pollution in the places that need it most.

In their new study, the researchers found evidence that both the burning of fossil fuels and the burning of biomass — materials such as plant matter and animal dung — have contributed to the black carbon that ended up in the Third Pole. In the Himalayas, it was split about evenly between the two sources, with most of it coming from the Indo-Gangetic Plain in northern India, while in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau, most of the black carbon came from fossil fuel burning in China.

But in the inner, central part of the plateau, about two thirds of the sampled black carbon came from biomass burning rather than fossil fuels — a finding that Kang noted is “very surprising.” This suggests that internal Tibetan fuel-burning practices, such as burning yak dung for daily cooking and heating, are contributing more pollutants to certain parts of the Third Pole than experts previously suspected.

This is valuable data that can better inform the models used to simulate ice melt in the Third Pole and make predictions about what the region’s future might look like. But according to Kang, “the most important thing is that we can provide mitigation [advice] to policymakers.”

Because most biomass burning on the Tibetan Plateau is used for home energy, including cooking and heating, government investments in improving the efficiency of stoves and expanding the availability of cleaner energy sources to households in the region could make a big difference, Kang noted.

This advice isn’t meant to overshadow efforts to reduce fossil fuel burning, which also has big implications for the fight against global climate change. And wider efforts to address the burning of fossil fuels in Central and East Asia are already under way in some places. In China, for instance, coal-burning still remains the country’s dominant power source — but reports suggest that coal consumption hasn’t grown since 2013 and may have even declined in the last year, while the government has also placed a moratorium on new coal mine approvals for at least the next three years.

The study’s results may have helped reveal some new ways governments can add to or prioritize their current efforts to cut down on black carbon production. In the meantime, careful monitoring of the Third Pole’s glaciers will be critical, Kang said, especially when it comes to keeping an eye on the region’s water resources and making projections for the future.

“In the future, we’re definitely going to see glaciers shrink, but different regions with different climate regimes have different responses,” Kang said. “This is what we want to try to figure out.”

August 29, 2016 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

Canada’s nuclear scientists want freedom to express their safety concerns

see-no-evilflag-canadaNuclear scientists push for freedom to express views without fear of reprisals http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/nuclear-scientists-push-for-freedom-to-express-views-without-fear-of-reprisals/article31219139/ GLORIA GALLOWAYOTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Aug. 01, 2016 Scientists working for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have asked their union to negotiate a policy on scientific integrity that would allow them to express their views about nuclear-safety issues without fear of reprisals from management.

The unionized professional employees at the nuclear regulator and two nuclear research facilities – Chalk River in Ontario and Whiteshell in Manitoba – have been negotiating a new contract for the past three years, a process that was significantly delayed as a result of last year’s federal election.

The labour talks have continued as the two reactors are gradually being decommissioned.

 Sources familiar with the bargaining say the CNSC workers decided that, with all of the changes that will be occurring at the two facilities, this is the time they should negotiate for the right to point out potential problems without fear of embarrassing their managers or being told to keep problems under wraps.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents them, says the aim is to secure scientific integrity in the workplace. Allowing more freedom for government scientists to speak to the public and the media has been a central theme of the PIPSC’s negotiations with many government departments.

“When our members fight for scientific integrity to be in the collective agreement, they’re not just fighting for their own right as regulatory scientists, they’re also fighting for the rights of every Canadian to live in safety,” Debi Daviau, president of PIPSC.

“The situation with specialists at the nuclear regulator is a clear case of that,” she said. “After a decade of disregard for the advice of public service professionals, we want to see real change reflected in our collective agreements.”

The effort to free the CNSC’s scientific staff to voice concerns comes as the regulator investigates allegations contained in an anonymous letter, purportedly written by employees at the nuclear regulator, that says information was withheld from commissioners while they were making critical decisions about the licensing of this country’s nuclear plants.

The letter, which was sent several weeks ago to CNSC president Michael Binder, points to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant material about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a plant into question.

Environmental groups have complained for many years that the CNSC acts more as a booster for nuclear energy than as a watchdog for public safety. In response to the union’s demands, the CNSC created a working group, composed largely of managers, to develop ways to resolve scientific or regulatory disagreements, to establish the rules for publishing research and to discuss the scope of a potential policy on scientific integrity.

A document, obtained under Access to Information by the environmental group Greenpeace, says one of the aims of that working group is to “provide mechanisms for staff to express dissenting views without fear of reprisal in a respectful environment.”

That document says the CNSC would benefit from having a science policy and recommends the creation of a science adviser position to ensure compliance with that policy.

The CNSC said in an e-mail that its staff have always had scientific freedom to publish their research, that healthy debate is encouraged, that a formal process for resolving differences of professional opinion already exists and that whistle blowers can raise concerns anonymously.

But the union says CNSC scientists are extremely fearful of the repercussions they might face for speaking out. Although management is open to creating its own internal policy around scientific integrity, the union says it wants to the policy written into the collective agreement to ensure that its members are protected.

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Canada, civil liberties | Leave a comment

In 2016 every month has been a record breaker for Renewable Energy Generation

Sun and wind.Flag-USARenewable Energy Generation Breaks Records Every Month in 2016 http://www.ecowatch.com/renewable-energy-breaks-records-1987755555.html   DeSmogBlog  By Mike Gaworecki, 29 Aug 16

Electricity generation from wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies have set monthly records every month so far in 2016, based on data through June released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Wednesday.

“Both hydroelectric and nonhydroelectric renewables have contributed to this trend, but in different ways. After a lengthy West Coast drought, hydro generation has increased and is now closer to historical levels. Nonhydro renewable generation continues to increase year-over-year and has exceeded hydro generation in each month since February 2016,” the EIA said.

According to EIA’s data, net U.S. electricity generation from non-hydroelectric, utility-scale renewables—biomass, geothermal, solar and wind—through June 2016 was 17 percent higher than in the first half of 2015. Electricity generation from conventional hydropower also rose, by nearly 12 percent. Combined, production from all utility-scale renewable sources was up 14.5 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

Not only has electricity generated by renewables exceeded previous levels in every month so far in 2016—in other words, more renewable energy was produced in January 2016 than any other January on record, more renewable energy was produced in February 2016 than any other February and so on—but renewable utility-scale electricity generation hit an all-time high of 16.55 percent of total domestic generation.

Those weren’t the only records broken, either. Utility-scale wind rose 23.5 percent in the first half of 2016, setting a new six-month record of 5.96 percent of total generation.

Meanwhile, generation from utility-scale solar thermal and photovoltaics grew by 30.3 percent and accounted for 0.87 percent of total utility-scale electrical output. The EIA also estimates that distributed solar photovoltaics or rooftop solar systems, expanded by 34.3 percent. Combined, utility-scale and distributed solar comprised 1.26 percent of total generation. A year ago, solar was responsible for just 0.94 percent of electricity generation.

Together, wind and solar grew by nearly 25 percent over the first half of 2015 and now provide almost as much electricity as conventional hydropower. Biomass and geothermal were the only renewable sources tracked by the EIA that have experienced declines so far in 2016.

Of course, renewables aren’t the only record-breakers out there. July 2016 was the 15th record-breaking month in a row in terms of global temperatures, data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association showed. And Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, reported that July 2016 was also “absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began.”

Electricity generated from coal plummeted by more than 20 percent and nuclear power stagnated, growing just one percent, per the EIA data. Generation fueled by natural gas, on the other hand, was up by 7.7 percent.

Still, Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, noted that renewable energy has continued to defy projections.

“Renewable energy’s share of net electrical generation for the balance of 2016 may dip a little because electrical output from wind and hydropower sources tends to be highest during the first six months of each year,” Bossong said. “Nonetheless, the data thus far is swamping EIA’s earlier forecast of just 9.5 percent growth by renewables in 2016.”

August 29, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Tech giants investing in clean renewable energy

How Google and other tech giants are betting big on clean energy,   https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/google-is-betting-big-on-clean-energy?utm_content=buffer34c08&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer Joe Myers, Google has bought the future output from two huge wind farms in Norway and Sweden.

Part of the company’s drive to power itself entirely using renewable sources, the electricity will be used to run its European data centres. The farms are yet to be built though.

The Norwegian project, consisting of 50 turbines near Stavanger, will be ready late next year. The 22 turbines near Mariestad in Sweden, are set to be completed in early 2018.

Google going green The announcement is the latest in a series of power purchase agreements completed by the Silicon Valley giant. With seven agreements in place in Europe, and 18 deals across the globe, Google is set to have 2.5 gigawatts of energy at its disposal.

This is “the equivalent of taking over 1 million cars off the road,” said Marc Oman, EU Energy Lead, Google Global Infrastructure, in a blog post.

It’s a tech thing Data centres need a lot of power – around 2% of US consumption according to Berkeley Lab research – so Google is not alone in trying to use cleaner energy.  According to Fortune, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon have all been shifting to greener sources, by buying wind and solar power.

In fact, Apple is generating so much energy that it wants to start selling some directly to consumers, reported USA Today in June.

August 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

USA’s potential for immense electricity source, in offshore solar power

Arkona offshore wind power project.Flag-USAThe Unlimited Power of Ocean Winds, NYT By THE EDITORIAL BOARDAUG. 27, 2016 The first offshore  wind farm in American waters, near Block Island, R.I., was completed this month. With just five turbines, the farm won’t make much of a dent in the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, but it shows the promise this renewable energy source could have. When the turbines start spinning in November, they will power the island, which currently relies on diesel generators, and will also send electricity to the rest of Rhode Island.

Putting windmills offshore, where the wind is stronger and more reliable than on land, could theoretically provide about four times the amount of electricity as is generated on the American grid today from all sources. This resource could be readily accessible to areas on the coasts, where 53 percent of Americans live.This technology is already used extensively in Britain, Denmark, Germany and other European countries, which have in the last 15 years invested billions of dollars in offshore wind farms in the North, Baltic and Irish Seas. In 2013, offshore wind accounted for 1.5 percent of all electricity used in the European Union, with all wind sources contributing 9.9 percent of electricity. By contrast, wind power made up only 4.7 percent of electricity in the United States last year.While electricity generated by offshore wind farms is more expensive than land-based turbines, costs have fallen with larger offshore turbines that can generate more electricity. Construction firms have also become more efficient in installing offshore farms……http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/opinion/the-unlimited-power-of-ocean-winds.html?ref=opinion&mtrref=www.nytimes.com&assetType=opinion&_r=0

August 29, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

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