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Positive international report for nuclear disarmament, despite disruption by Australia

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

flag-AustraliaAustralia attempts to derail UN plan to ban nuclear weapons Diplomats force a vote text-relevant
on a report to begin negotiations on a ban in 2017 that had been expected to pass unanimously,
Guardian, , 21 Aug 16, Australia has attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

The report, which recommended negotiations begin in 2017 to ban nuclear weapons, was eventually passed by 68 votes to 22. An Austrian-led push for the treaty had reached a milestone on Friday, when the report was presented to representatives of 103 nations in Geneva.

Moves towards a ban have been pursued because many saw little progress under the existing non-proliferation treaty, which obliges the five declared nuclear states to “pursue negotiations in good faith” towards “cessation of the nuclear arms race … and nuclear disarmament”.

The proposal recommended a conference be held next year to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

The text was carefully negotiated, and compromise was attempted on contentious paragraphs.

Anti-nuclear campaigners involved in the process expected the report would pass without objection. But Australia surprised observers by objecting and forcing a vote.

The vote was accepted by an overwhelming majority, with 68 voting in favour, 22 against and 13 abstaining.

The next step will be for the proposal for negotiations to begin in 2017 will be tabled at the United Nations general assembly, after which it is likely formal negotiations will begin.

In an opening statement the Australian diplomat Ian McConville told the meeting: “A simple Ban Treaty would not facilitate the reduction in one nuclear weapon. It might even harden the resolve of those possessing nuclear weapons not to reduce their arsenals.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on its website that it opposed a ban on nuclear weapons because although it “might seem to be a straightforward and emotionally appealing way to de-legitimise and eradicate nuclear weapons,” it would actually “divert attention from the sustained, practical steps needed for effective disarmament”.

But in 2015, documents obtained under Freedom of Information revealed Australia opposed the ban on nuclear weapons, since it believed it relied on US nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

“As long as the threat of nuclear attack or coercion exists, and countries like the DPRK [North Korea] seek these weapons and threaten others, Australia and many other countries will continue to rely on US extended nuclear deterrence,” said one of the briefing notes for government ministers.

The documents revealed however that Australia and the US were worried about the momentum gathering behind the Austrian-led push for a ban nuclear weapons, which diplomats said was “fast becoming a galvanising focus for those pushing the ban treaty option”.

Japan’s ambassador to the UN conference on disarmament expressed disappointment that a vote was required.

“We are deeply concerned that the adoption by voting will further divide the international disarmament community and undermine the momentum of nuclear disarmament for the international community as a whole,” he said.

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

“Australia is resisting the tide of history. A majority of nations believe that nuclear weapons are unacceptable and must be prohibited. And now they are ready to negotiate a ban,” Wright said.

“Australia’s attempt to derail these important disarmament talks was shameful and outrageous. It provoked strong criticism from some of our nearest neighbours in Asia and the Pacific, who believe that the world should be rid of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

“There can be no doubt that a majority of UN members intend to pursue negotiations next year on a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” said Fihn.

“We expect that, based on the recommendations of the working group, the UN general assembly will adopt a resolution this autumn to establish the mandate for negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “Australia called for a vote on the report as it was the most effective way to register our opposition to a recommendation to start negotiations on a ban treaty. A consensus report was not possible in the circumstances…..https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/21/australia-attempts-to-derail-un-plan-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The case for ending the policy of Pre-emptive Nuclear Strike

apocalypseEnd the First-Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/opinion/end-the-text-relevantfirst-use-policy-for-nuclear-weapons.html By JAMES E. CARTWRIGHT and BRUCE G. BLAIRAUG. 14, 2016 Throughout the nuclear age, presidents have allowed their senior commanders to plan for the first use of nuclear weapons. Contingency plans were drawn to initiate first strikes to repel an invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union, defeat China and North Korea, take out chemical and biological weapons and conduct other missions.

After the end of the Cold War, which coincided with revolutionary advances in our nonnuclear military capacities, the range of these missions steadily narrowed to the point where nuclear weapons today no longer serve any purpose beyond deterring the first use of such weapons by our adversaries. Our nonnuclear strength, including economic and diplomatic power, our alliances, our conventional and cyber weaponry and our technological advantages, constitute a global military juggernaut unmatched in history. The United States simply does not need nuclear weapons to defend its own and its allies’ vital interests, as long as our adversaries refrain from their use.

Using nuclear weapons first against Russia and China would endanger our and our allies’ very survival by encouraging full-scale retaliation. Any first use against lesser threats, such as countries or terrorist groups with chemical and biological weapons, would be gratuitous; there are alternative means of countering those threats. Such use against North Korea would be likely to result in the blanketing of Japan and possibly South Korea with deadly radioactive fallout.

But beyond reducing those dangers, ruling out first use would also bring myriad benefits. To start, it would reduce the risk of a first strike against us during global crises. Leaders of other countries would be calmed by the knowledge that the United States viewed its own weapons as deterrents to nuclear warfare, not as tools of aggression.

The policy would also reduce costs by gutting the rationale for retaining the large arsenal of land-based strategic missiles in silos across the Midwest and the tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. Those missiles are mainly for first-use; they are a risky option for second-use because they are highly vulnerable to enemy attack. Eliminating these weapons entirely would be the best option.

Phasing out land-based missiles and shifting to a reliance on submarines and bombers would save about $100 billion over the next three decades. The elimination of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons would save billions more. President Obama could begin the phaseout of land-based missiles before he left office by instructing the Department of Defense to remove 550 weapons from the operationally deployed category and transfer them to long-term storage, thereby reducing the operationally deployed inventory to about 1,000 strategic warheads. These missiles are surplus weapons no longer needed for deterrence.A no-first-use policy would also reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears. Strategic bombers can be sent aloft on warning of an apparent incoming attack, which may or may not be a false alarm, and stay up until the situation clarifies. Strategic submarines are extremely survivable and exert no pressure on decision-makers to fire them quickly. They can patrol for months waiting for instructions. Both bombers and submarines are also less vulnerable to cyberwarfare than the strategic missiles on land.

Finally, no-first-use would help ensure that democratically elected officials maintained control over nuclear weapons. Savings from reducing the nuclear force could be invested in fortifying command centers and communications networks, which would better protect the president and ensure the continuity of government during a crisis. This would not only fortify deterrence but also reduce the current possibility of a president’s losing control over nuclear operations at an early stage of conflict.Beyond those benefits, we believe a no-first-use policy could catalyze multilateral negotiations to reduce nuclear arms, discourage nonnuclear states from developing them and reinforce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Although a no-first-use policy would limit the president’s discretion by imposing procedural and physical constraints on his or her ability to initiate the use of nuclear weapons, we believe such checks on the commander in chief would serve the national interest.

President Obama has an opportunity to further delegitimize nuclear weapons by adopting no-first-use as a core principle of United States security policy on the grounds that first-use is unnecessary and a threat to national survival and humanity itself. We could still maintain a robust nuclear umbrella to protect ourselves and our allies.

China and India adopted this policy long ago, and the American people overwhelmingly support it, according to a recent survey. In that poll, two-thirds say the United States should use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or not at all, while just 18 percent think that first-use may be justified sometimes.

President Obama would be wise to follow China’s example. As commander in chief, he can adopt no-first-use overnight and lead the way in establishing it as a global norm among all of the nine countries with nuclear weapons. The next president ought to stay that course. Our nation, our allies and indeed the world will be better and safer for it.

James E. Cartwright, the chairman of the Global Zero Commission on Nuclear Risk Reduction, is a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former commander of the United States Strategic Command. Bruce G. Blair is a research scholar at Princeton, a founder of Global Zero and a former Minuteman launch officer.

August 21, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Conflicts increase as a result of climate-related events

climate-changeClimate-related disasters raise conflict risk, study says,  Skeptical Science 19 August 2016 by dana1981This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Robert McSweeney   Extreme weather increases the risk of armed conflict in ethnically-diverse countries, a new study suggests. Around 23% of conflict outbreaks in these countries over the last three decades have occurred during climate-related disasters, such as droughts and heatwaves, the paper says. The results don’t suggest that weather extremes directly trigger conflict, the researchers say, but that they can be one of many contributing factors.

Carbon Brief speaks to a number of experts to dig a bit deeper into what has become quite a controversial field of climate research.

Climate-related disasters  A host of different factors can increase the risk of armed conflict breaking out in a country. Some examples picked out by previous research include povertyweak governance, a history of conflictincome gaps between rich and poor, and disputes over natural resources.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that climate-related disasters should be added to this list.

This conclusion stems from a statistical analysis of armed conflicts and the economic damage caused by extreme weather events over the period 1980-2010. The researchers looked at three categories of climate-related disasters. These include meteorological events (blizzard/snowstorm, hailstorm, tornado, tropical cyclone, winter storm), hydrological events (avalanche, flash flood, general flood, landslide, storm surge), and climatological events (cold wave/frost, drought, heatwave, wildfire). The results suggest that around 9% of all armed conflicts over the past 30 years have occurred during – i.e. in the same month as – an extreme climatological event.

Taking all three disaster types together, the researchers only found a link when they added another factor – “ethnic fractionalisation” – into their analysis. This is a measure of how how ethnically diverse a country is.

The researchers find that in top-50 most fractionalised countries, around 23% of armed conflicts have occurred at the same time as a climate-related disaster of any kind.  Other studies of highly fractionalised countries have identified similar links, the paper notes. Prolonged droughts, for example, may have contributed to outbreaks of conflict in Somalia and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The results suggest that disasters may increase the risk of conflict – though not directly cause it, says lead author, Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, from the Potsdam Institute forClimate Impact Research. He tells Carbon Brief:

“We do not report evidence that climate disasters are directly triggering conflict outbreak, but rather that they may enhance the risk of an outbreak of a conflict rooting in context-specific circumstances.”

While more work is needed to establish exactly how disasters enhance the risk of conflicts, the findings suggest they add pressure to existing ethnic divides, says Schleussner:

“It seems…plausible that such disruptive events fuel smoldering social tensions.”

With extreme weather (pdf) likely to be more intense and frequent as global temperatures rise, the climate could be become a more prominent factor for conflict in the future, says Schleussner:

“Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions – including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia – are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made global warming and characterised by deep ethnic divides.”

This means that a changing climate should be taken into account when developing security policies in these regions, Schleussner says. No clear picture………http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-disasters-raise-conflict-risk.html

 

August 21, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry started the now sophisticated practice of corporate greenwashing

nuke-greenwash

The troubling evolution of corporate greenwashing  The term “greenwashing” was coined in the 1980s to describe outrageous corporate environmental claims. Three decades later, the practice has grown vastly more sophisticated, Guardian, , 21 Aug 16, In the mid-1980s, oil company Chevron commissioned a series of expensive television and print ads to convince the public of its environmental bonafides. Titled People Do, the campaign showed Chevron employees protecting bears, butterflies, sea turtles and all manner of cute and cuddly animals.

The commercials were very effective – in 1990, they won an Effie advertising award, and subsequently became a case study at Harvard Business school. They also became notorious among environmentalists, who have proclaimed them the gold standard of greenwashing – the corporate practice of making diverting sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record.

The term greenwashing was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, back when most consumers received their news from television, radio and print media – the same outlets that corporations regularly flooded with a wave of high-priced, slickly-produced commercials and print ads. The combination of limited public access to information and seemingly unlimited advertising enabled companies to present themselves as caring environmental stewards, even as they were engaging in environmentally unsustainable practices.

But greenwashing dates back even earlier. American electrical behemoth Westinghouse’s nuclear power division was a greenwashing pioneer. Threatened by the 1960’s anti-nuclear movement, which raised questions about its safety and environmental impact, it fought back with a series of ads proclaiming the cleanliness and safety of nuclear power plants. One, featuring a photograph of a nuclear plant nestled by a pristine lake, proclaimed that “We’re building nuclear power plants to give you more electricity,” and went on to say that nuclear plants were “odorless […] neat, clean, and safe”……

One shift has been outreach. Many companies are now working to engage customers in their sustainability efforts, even as their core business model remains environmentally unsustainable. The Home Depot and Lowes, for example, both encourage customers to do their part by offering onsite recycling for several products, including compact fluorescent lights and plastic bags. Meanwhile, they continue to sell billions of dollars per year worth of environmentally damaging products, such as paints that are loaded with toxic ingredients and which release noxious fumes.

“It’s misdirection, and it’s intended to shift the customer’s focus from a company’s appalling behaviors to something that’s peripheral,” Ballard says.

The bottled water conundrum

Another trend, says Jonah Sachs, CEO of branding agency Free Range Studios, is linking sustainability claims to other issues, such as personal health. “There’s this perception that personal health and environmental sustainability are two sides of the same coin,” he says. “Sometimes this is true, but many times it isn’t. Bottled water is a great example: in terms of health, it’s much better than soda or other drinks, but in terms of the environment and sustainability, it’s ridiculous.”

The water industry trades heavily on images of rugged mountains and pristine lakes to sell its products. And many companies – Nestle, in particular – spend millions of dollars trying to convince the public that their bottled water isn’t only good to drink, but is also good for the planet. Over the past few years, the bottled water giant has claimed that its Eco-Shape bottle is more efficient, that itsResource recycled plastic bottle is more environmentally responsible and that its use of plant-based plastics is less damaging to the planet.

In 2008, Nestle Waters Canada even ran an ad claiming: “Bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world.”…….

A golden oldie

 Some of the classic greenwashers are also taking cues from the new greenwashing playbook. In 2013, amid worries about unemployment and continued concerns about energy sustainability, Westinghouse put a fresh face on its old claims with a brand new commercial. “Did you know that nuclear energy is the largest source of clean air energy in the world?” the ad asked viewers right before claiming that its nuclear power plants “provide cleaner air, create jobs, and help sustain the communities where they operate”.

What the commercial failed to mention was that, two years earlier, Westinghouse was cited by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for concealing flaws in its reactor designs and submitting false information to regulators. And, in February 2016, another plant that uses Westinghouse reactors, New York’s Indian Point,leaked radioactive material into the surrounding area’s groundwater.

Greenwashing may have taken on a new shape in the last decade, but it’s still as murky as ever. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/aug/20/greenwashing-environmentalism-lies-companies

August 21, 2016 Posted by | spinbuster | Leave a comment

Exelon readies for legal fight to keep New York nuclear subsidies

legal costsExelon girds for challenges to Cuomo’s N.Y. nuclear subsidy, Jeffrey Tomich and Saqib Rahim, E&E reporters EnergyWire: Friday, August 19, 2016 Even before the first counterpunch to New York’s plan to subsidize a trio of upstate nuclear power plants in the name of fighting climate change, the beneficiary of almost $500 million in annual payments is airing its legal defenses.

Chicago-based Exelon Corp., owner of the R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point plants and the soon-to-be-owner of a third plant, James A. FitzPatrick, said it has vetted all of the potential arguments its opponents could raise and its defense is airtight.

“Given the importance to the company, we’ve gone through these legal theories in great detail and each of the potential challenges,” William Von Hoene, Exelon’s senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer, said in a recent presentation. “And we will have the challenges.”

Exelon is on the same page as New York’s Public Service Commission, which designed the policy to avoid specific legal tripwires. Experts say there’s likely to be a court challenge anyway, if only because of the money at stake and the precedent it could establish. If it survives, the plan could be a blueprint for other states to achieve the same policy goals, even after similar efforts have been blocked by judges and regulators.

This year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Maryland incentive program for new gas-fired generation because it strayed too far into federal jurisdiction over wholesale electricity markets (Greenwire, April 19). And the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission blocked a plan approved by Ohio regulators to subsidize utility-owned coal and nuclear plants because it clashed with affiliate transaction rules (EnergyWire, April 28).

The New York PSC approved its clean energy standard (CES) on Aug. 1, formalizing the state’s goal of getting half its power from renewable energy by 2030. Toward that end, the CES will subsidize three nuclear power plants, giving more time for wind and solar power to develop in New York…..

Opponents said the process moved too fast given the high stakes. They’ve said it’s dubious to peg the subsidy to the social cost of carbon, and that it will lead to burdensome costs for large energy users, like manufacturers. And some environmentalists have objected to any support for nuclear power in a policy meant to advance renewable energy…….

Regulators moved quickly to finalize the clean energy standard. Entergy Corp., the owner of FitzPatrick, planned to shut the plant in January. Exelon was willing to buy it and add to its nuclear fleet, but it wanted clarity about what their economics would be……

On July 8, the state Department of Public Service proposed its plan to rescue the nuclear plants with ZECs. The plan contemplated nearly $1 billion in subsidies for the first two years. It said the $4 billion net benefit, largely from cutting carbon, was worth it.

Regulators took public comments for two weeks and issued a final order on Aug. 1.

Opponents said the process moved too fast given the high stakes. They’ve said it’s dubious to peg the subsidy to the social cost of carbon, and that it will lead to burdensome costs for large energy users, like manufacturers. And some environmentalists have objected to any support for nuclear power in a policy meant to advance renewable energy.

Legal fight on the horizon?

What remains unclear: Will any of the objections lead to a formal legal challenge?…….

Parties have 30 days to petition the PSC for a rehearing, said Jon Sorensen, a spokesman for the Department of Public Service. They have four months to challenge a decision at the New York Supreme Court.

At FERC, parties could lodge a complaint at any time, asserted Tyson Slocum, energy program director at Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog.

What might be the substance of such a challenge? “We do expect opponents to challenge the order both on administrative process as well as the merits,” said Fox of ClearView.

That opens many angles of attack, though not all of them are equally likely. Some parties question how regulators set the amount of the nuclear subsidy. At first, it was based on the cost of running the reactors. They ultimately decided to use the social cost of carbon.

Whether the recent appellate court ruling validates the social cost of carbon metric, some critics say the PSC staff didn’t allow enough time for parties to vet the formula.

“Two business weeks is a wholly inadequate amount of time for parties to review, evaluate and comment on a proposal that is projected to result in billions of dollars in costs and with a newly-created methodology for calculating ZEC prices,” the National Energy Marketers Association said in a filing last month.

The PSC’s timetable violated the state’s Administrative Procedure Act, NEMA said. It declined to comment on a possible challenge to the CES.

Exelon is also bracing for challenges that claim the PSC strayed too far into FERC’s jurisdiction……http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060041817

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

While Louisiana drowns, sociopaths sabotage action on climate change

Koch-brothersThe Path of the Sociopath They did it while Louisiana drownedhttp://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/08/20/the-path-of-the-sociopath/#.V7jF_CUlnoY.twitter  by D.R. Tucker August 20, 2016

They didn’t give a damn about how many people had lost their lives, or how many people will lose their lives if we don’t transition as quickly as possible away from fossil fuels. They couldn’t care less about the health impacts of carbon pollution, and the fact that it is inherently unfair to deprive innocent people of a stable climate and clean air. Their arrogance has reached new heights–in fact, the level of their arrogance is as high as the sea levels will be in a few decades.

As DeSmogBlog’s Sharon Kelly reports:

A long-awaited campaign to rebrand fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward made its public debut at the Red State Gathering 2016 [in Denver, Colorado last] Saturday, where the organization’s President and CEO Charles Drevna gave attendees the inside scoop on the effort, and confirmed that the campaign is backed financially by Koch Industries. 

Back in February, Peter Stone first reported in the Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort was proposed by a Koch Industries board member, James Mahoney, and Mr. Drevna, aiming “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” In early August, the Fueling U.S. Forward website launched, and on Saturday, the first public comments were made about the campaign by Mr. Drevna, and they revealed a lot about how the Koch-backed initiative is working to re-frame fossil fuels…

The top line takeaway from Mr. Drevna’s comments is that the Koch-funded Fueling U.S. Forward is an effort to rebrand fossil fuels, focusing on the “positive” sides of oil, gas and coal.

The new initiative comes at a time when the impacts of climate change are becoming more difficult to ignore. 2016 is already on track to be the hottest year ever recorded, a mid-year climate analysis from NASA reported, and unusual storms, like the torrential rainfall that struck the Gulf Coast over the past few days causing historic flooding, have become more frequent.

Charles and David Koch built this, this monument to malevolence. We always knew they were ruthless…but to do this while Louisiana drowned as a clear result of fossil-fueled climate change is beyond heartless. This is Trumpian in its treachery.

Spare me the nonsense that the Koch family doesn’t like Trump. Yes, Charles and David may scorn Trump in public, but if the bigoted billionaire manages to turn things around and win the White House, both men will be wholly satisfied with Trump’s dirty-energy agenda. (In addition, let’s not forget that another Koch Brother, William “Death to Cape Wind” Koch, has officially boarded the Trump train.)

When Bill McKibben calls for a “war” on climate change, he’s calling for a war on Koch ideology. It’s a war that progressives, moderates and whatever remains of the rational right must be prepared to fight and win. This is an enemy that must be conquered before it conquers us.

The sociopathy of the Kochs shocks the conscience. Looking at a world on fire, they call for the use of more fossil fuels to further increase their profits as they further inflame the planet. If Joseph Welch were alive today, he wouldn’t ask the Kochs if they had any sense of decency; he’d tell them he already knew they had none.

I’ve yet to read Daniel Schulman’s 2014 Koch biography Sons of Wichita, though I imagine that Schulman was thoroughly disgusted by their disregard for their fellow human beings. (Considering their latest actions, I have to say Schulman’s title is incomplete, since obviously Wichita is not the only thing these fossil-fuel fiends are sons of.)

I give Wisconsin talk radio star Charlie Sykes credit for admitting, at long last, that the right-wing media noise machine has created a “monster” comprised of millions of Americans who are resistant to facts and logic. Of course, Janeane Garofalo basically said the same thing seven years ago, and received nothing but scorn from the right for saying so:

Fox News loves to foment this anti-intellectualism because that is their bread and butter.  If you have a cerebral electorate, Fox News goes down the toilet, you know, very, very fast…They‘re been doing this for years.  That‘s why Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch started this venture; it is to disinform and to coarsen and dumb-down a certain segment of the electorate.

Thanks to right-wing radio, Fox and the wingnut blogosphere, we have far too many Americans who scorn science and reject reason…far too many Americans who think the lies of Charles, David and William Koch are the truth…far too many Americans who will suffer as a result of the actions of the fossil fuel industry and its media allies.

They did it while Louisiana drowned.

While Louisiana drowned.

Damn them.

August 21, 2016 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

UK conservatives realising that Hinkley Point Nuclear may well be unnecessary

text Hinkley cancelledIf wind and solar power are cheaper and quicker, do we really need Hinkley Point?, Guardian, , 21 Aug 16 Nuclear energy’s cost, and a focus on alternative technology, including research on a new generation of hi-tech battery storage, is leading observers outside the green lobby to question the project’s value.

Should Theresa May take the axe to the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear project, it will propel wind and solar power further into the limelight. And for renewable technologies to become really effective, Britain and the rest of the world need breakthroughs in electricity storage to allow intermittent power to be on tap 24/7, on a large scale and for the right price.

Cheap, light and long-life batteries are the holy grail, and achieving this requires the expertise of people like Cambridge professor Clare Grey. The award winning Royal Society fellow is working on the basic science behind lithium-air batteries, which can store five times the energy in the same space as the current rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are widely used today.

She is also focusing on sodium-ion and redox flow batteries; the latter store power in a liquid form, contained in vats or tanks that in theory can easily be scaled up to power-grid sizes.

“There has been an amazing transformation in this field. There is an explosion of interest and I am extremely lucky to have decided early on to concentrate on this area,” she says, although she is keen to play down the idea that a eureka moment is just around the corner.

She is also thankful for Hinkley – if only because of the government’s long-term funding deal with EDF Energy that it gave rise to. “It has put a price on [future] electricity in the market which is high, and this has potentially opened up further commercial space for new technologies such as batteries. But independent of Hinkley we do need better batteries and my chemistry will hopefully help find them,” she says.

The wisdom of bringing in the Chinese to help EDF, the French state-owned utility company, construct the proposed new Somerset reactors has been highlighted as a key factor behind the government’s reluctance to push the go button.

But ministers are also aware that, in the last 18 months, many experts in the field have concluded that the biggest argument against the plant is not that it is too expensive, at £18.5bn, but that the kind of “on-all-the-time” power it delivers is no longer what is required.

Even employers’ trade body the Institute of Directors said last week that it was right for the government to run the slide-rule over Hinkley again to see whether it really made sense.

City investment house RBC Capital Markets says no current minister starting from scratch today would ever agree to the deal George Osborne oversaw with EDF: a 35-year index-linked contract paying £92.50 per megawatt hour in 2012 money – double the current wholesale price of electricity.

But, more ominously for government, it adds: “We question whether such large-scale generation is needed in a rapidly changing and decentralising electricity market where the costs of renewables and storage are coming down.”

That is traditionally a message that has come from the leaders of the wind and solar sector – such as Jeremy Leggett, the founder of solar panel maker Solarcentury and a figurehead for the wider green industry.

He is delighted that others are picking up on arguments he has been making for years. “Finally the message is getting through that Hinkley, and indeed nuclear, make no sense today simply because wind and solar are cheaper. If we accelerate renewables in the UK, we can get to 100% renewable power well before 2050,” he says.

“The message is getting through on the feasibility of this too. One thousand cities around the world are committed to 100% renewable supply, some as soon as 2030. More than 60 giant corporations are committed to 100% [low carbon] supply, some as soon as 2020.”

Part of the growing confidence in wind and solar comes from experience. Portugal ran for four days on only wind, solar and hydro power in May, while solar power in Britain produced more electricity than coal-fired stations in the same month.

Dong Energy, the biggest investor in British offshore wind farms, says it is already possible to produce power with a subsidy of £85 per megawatt hour, and costs are dropping all the time.

The Global Wind Energy Council in Brussels claims that wind power alone reached 432.42 gigawatts of installed capacity at the end of 2015 – more than the 382.55GW of nuclear for the first time ever. But that wind capacity can be available on average only about 40% of the time, compared to 90% for nuclear.

Paul Dorfman, a senior research fellow at the Energy Institute at University College London, says for too long Hinkley has been justified by reference to immediate supply shortages that in fact can’t be met by nuclear. And he says that pouring money into new atomic power plants can only take investment away from renewables, whose costs are dropping, unlike those of atomic power.

“Hinkley will definitely not come online in time to help with the critical UK electricity gap or with our carbon emission commitments. In fact, due to inevitable delays and cost overruns, Hinkley will block scarce resources going to necessary UK renewables, grid upgrades, and energy efficiency. Don’t believe the hype: it’s not ‘nuclear and renewables’ – because of the sheer cost of nuclear, it’s ‘nuclear or renewables’,” he argues……..https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/aug/20/do-we-even-need-hinkley-point-smart-usage-windpower-hi-tech-batteries

August 21, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Russian financing, Russia selling nuclear power plant to Jordan

Russian-BearJordan seeking funds for first nuclear power plant — official, Jordan Times By Mohammad Ghazal – Aug 20,2016 –  AMMAN — Jordan’s first nuclear power plant could be operational by 2025, if sufficient financing is secured, the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) said on Thursday.

“Jordan is currently in talks with German, Czech, Chinese and Japanese companies among others to supply turbines and electrical systems for the power plant and things are going well,” said JAEC Chairman Khaled Toukan.

Thirty per cent of the $10 billion project will be financed equally by Jordan and Russia, who are partners in the project. JAEC is engaged in discussions with companies to secure the remaining 70 per cent to pay for turbines and electrical systems, Toukan said.

“If we secure finance by the end of 2017, we will be able to operate the first reactor by 2025,” he noted.

Under an agreement with Russia, Jordan plans to build a power plant with two nuclear reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

Toukan was speaking at a press conference on Thursday to announce the results of a report on the programme by the International Advisory Group (IAG).

The IAG was formed in November 2015 to provide consultations on the strategy to deal with nuclear waste, and the best options and mechanisms to finance the plant.

The group includes former energy minister Khaled Shraideh and seven international industry experts. …….http://www.jordantimes.com/news/local/jordan-seeking-funds-first-nuclear-power-plant-%E2%80%94-official

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Jordan, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Extraordinary story of how a fracking company is silencing academic criticism with smears and payoffs

Pride's Purge

The sordid story of the geology professor, the fracking company, the old Etonian and the Tory Party fundraiser

When retiredgeophysics professor Dr David Smythe wrote a highly technicalacademic papercritical of fracking processes, he expected the usual questioning from academic colleagues that goes with peer reviewed academic publications.

What he didn’t expect was to see his academic reputation smeared in two national newspapers.

The Telegraph and the Daily Mail – not publications normally interested inmicrite layers of subsurface geology – both ran bizarre smear stories claiming Smythe had ‘fabricated’ his qualifications.

The ‘fabrications’ boiled down to the non-storythat on his retirement, Smythe had not renewed his subscriptions to membership of the Geological Society.

Dr Smythe was even more surprised to see a colleague from his alma mater Glasgow University – a prof Paul Younger – widely quoted in the newspaper articles, fiercely criticising him for supposedly ‘lying’ about his…

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August 21 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “If wind and solar power are cheaper and quicker, do we really need Hinkley Point?” • Should Theresa May take the axe to the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear project, it will propel wind and solar power further into the limelight. Britain would do well to focus such things as on lithium-air, sodium-ion, and flow batteries. [The Guardian]

The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester. Photograph: Ashley Cooper The floating solar farm on Godley Reservoir near Manchester.
Photograph: Ashley Cooper

¶ “If we’re serious about industrial strategy, renewables is a good place to start” • Cancelling the planned new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point will be a huge victory for the offshore wind industry. The word from inside No 10 Downing Street is not clear yet, but so many Tories, including the prime minister, are unsettled. [The Guardian]

Science and Technology:

¶ In a rare endeavor, Crystal Serenity has embarked on a 32-night journey…

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Louisiana National Guard Rescues 19,000 in Flood-Affected Areas

Mining Awareness +

This is what the National Guard is for – to help out during natural diasters, as well as protecting the homeland. It is not for helping out during nuclear emergencies, as seems to be the backup plan for the nuclear industry, nor for foreign wars https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/nuclear-strategic-alliance-for-flex-emergency-response-safer-not-depends-on-emergency-resources-which-may-be-needed-elsewhere-unavailable/
National Guard rescues 19,000 in flood-affected areas
By Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office August 18, 2016
A Louisiana National Guardsman guiding a Humvee through floodwaters off of I-12 outside of Denham Springs. (Photo Credit: Spc. Garrett L. Dipuma, Army National Guard )
A Louisiana National Guardsman guiding a Humvee through floodwaters off of I-12 outside of Denham Springs. (Photo Credit: Spc. Garrett L. Dipuma, Army National Guard )
Sgt. Chad McCann of Deville, Louisiana, crew chief with F Company, 2-135th MEDEVAC, brings a young child to the waiting UH-60 Blackhawk to be taken to safety after flood waters threatened his home in South Louisiana, Aug. 15, 2016. More than 3,880 Louisiana National Guardsmen are still engaged in flood response efforts, to include rescues, evacuations, security patrols, engineering missions, and commodities distribution. (Photo Credit: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jesse Curtis)
Sgt. Chad McCann of Deville, Louisiana, crew chief with F Company, 2-135th MEDEVAC, brings a young child to the waiting UH-60 Blackhawk to be taken to safety after flood waters threatened his home in South Louisiana, Aug. 15, 2016. More than 3,880 Louisiana National Guardsmen are still engaged in flood response efforts, to include rescues, evacuations, security patrols, engineering missions…

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

August 20 Energy News

geoharvey

Science and Technology:

¶ When produced using renewable energy, hydrogen could cost nearly the equivalent of 50-cent-per-gallon gasoline, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The NREL plan assumes large-scale production of hydrogen through electrolysis, but with renewable energy used for power. [Green Car Reports]

Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, Fountain Valley, California. Hydrogen fuel cell cars fueling, Fountain Valley, California.

Opinion:

¶ “Analysis Finds Wind Could Replace 6,000 Gigawatt-Hours of Coal in Colorado” • Financial modeling shows that Colorado’s clean energy transition is getting cheaper. Colorado voters bet costs dropping for wind and solar energy as they were used more, and it looks like the initiative’s promise is coming to fruition. [Greentech Media]

World:

¶ In India, a dam-top solar project of the Kerala State Electricity Board on the Banasura Sagar Dam at Padinharethara in Wayanad district is ready for commissioning. A trial run was successfully conducted recently, and the…

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World Could Run on 100% Renewables By 2050; 80% By 2030; The Main Barriers are Neither Technical Nor Economic, But Political and Social – Expert Testimony to US Congress

Mining Awareness +

The main barriers to a conversion“[to 100% Wind, Water, Solar] are neither technical nor economic; rather, they are social and political.” (Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson, Ph.D. in Testimony to the US Congress, 19 Nov. 2015)

Written Testimony to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Democratic Forum on Climate Change November 19, 2015 at 2 PM, Washington D.C. By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford University (Witness), Roadmaps for 139 Countries and the 50 United States to Transition to 100% Clean, Renewable Wind, Water, and Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050 and 80% by 2030
Navajo solar carport US DOE
Navajo solar carport US DOE

Testimony to the US House Nov 19, 2015 By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford, Renewable Wind, Water, Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050, 80% by 2030 , p. 1
Testimony to the US House Nov 19, 2015 By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford, Renewable Wind, Water, Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050, 80% by 2030 , p. 2
Testimony to the US House Nov 19, 2015 By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford, Renewable Wind, Water, Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050, 80% by 2030 , p. 3
Testimony to the US House Nov 19, 2015 By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford, Renewable Wind, Water, Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050, 80% by 2030 , p. 4
Testimony to the US House Nov 19, 2015 By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford, Renewable Wind, Water, Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050, 80% by 2030 , p. 5
Testimony to the US House Nov 19, 2015 By Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford, Renewable Wind, Water, Solar (WWS) Power for all Purposes by 2050, 80% by 2030 , p. 6
Green and Red Emphasis (underline) added. Original with embedded links found here: https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/15-11-19-HouseEEC-MZJTestimony.pdf More information found here: https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson

140 countries studied out of 196 countries.

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aviation: the green stuff – coming soon to an airfield near you

daryanenergyblog

Solar Impulse recently completed the first ever circumnavigation using a solar powered aircraft. So it might be an appropriate time to review the options as regards alternative fuelled aircraft.

solar-impulse-2-landing Figure 1: Solar Impulse 2 completes its final landing

A long standing assumption of many has been that given the very high rates of energy consumption by aircraft and the heavy dependency of aviation on fossil fuels, once oil supplies peaked (or we were forced to curb consumption to fight climate change) this would mean the end of commercial aviation as we know it. No more cheap flights, no more holidays in the sun, the world would suddenly become a much larger place. However its possible that this may not be the case. The technology of Solar Impulse 2 hints at a range of possible solutions that are either in the works or already exist.

The eternal plane

Firstly the concept…

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August 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear power protest tents forcibly removed from outside ministry

Yesterday I wrote a long-ish post about last weekend’s attack on the anti-nuclear power protest tents that have occupied a corner of land outside the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki since 2011. I included some of the history of the tents and resistance against the orders calling for their removal. After the Supreme Court rejected the activists’ final appeal in late July, the end seemed nigh and it seems I jumped the gun.

The post about last week’s incident swiftly became obsolete when around 100 security guards and court officials arrived at the tents in the early hours of today, August 21st. Starting at 3.30 a.m. on the 1,807th day of the sit-in, it took all of 90 minutes for them to remove the tents, placards and other materials that were the signs of a five-year protest movement. There were apparently some five activists staying at the tents overnight but they could do nothing to prevent the removal.

 

The choice of the early morning to enforce the eviction was surely a deliberate one to avoid trouble with protestors. If it had been during the daytime, the activists could have quickly mobilised dozens, maybe even hundreds, of supporters, as we saw at last weekend’s incident. Earlier on August 21st, police and security guards completely barricaded the corner of the street in a show of force in case there was an ugly response from activists.

Today there was also a demonstration by a hate group in Kawaguchi City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, which consumed the manpower of the counter-protest group C.R.A.C., who otherwise may have rallied activists to the ministry.

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Ironically, I had been planning to go see the tents today, since I knew it might be my last chance. In the end, I missed my opportunity. Nonetheless I went to see the aftermath and found a mood that was muted yet resilient. There were no more tents; the iconic facade of the site was gone, replaced by large fences obstructing any new tents from being erected. But still there were some 15 protestors sitting on chairs, banners unfurled on the pavement and flags stuck into the hedges. A couple of activists were banging a drum. There was a police presence, of course: a few officers and some riot police vans. A random rightist was spewing forth anger at the protestors from the street while being physically held back by police officers. You can just about see him in the right of the photograph below.

 

kazumigaseki-no-nukes-plaza-tents-occupy-protest-removed-2

Earlier an activist had been arrested and was being held at a police station in Marunouchi, and many of others had gone there to call for his or her release. By chance, Masami Yoshizawa from Kibō no Bokujō (Farm of Hope) was also in the area, driving around a car with a fake cow on a trailer. He has previously brought actual diseased cattle to Tokyo in an attempt to remind bureaucrats of the continuing plight of Fukushima.

The activists told me that they would be continuing the protest at the site, only no longer with tents. Alternatively known in English as the Occupy Tents, Anti-Nuclear Occupy Tent, No Nukes Plaza or Tent Plaza, the central structures are now gone but the idea of the “plaza” survives.

However, Japan’s relatively harsh rules on public assembly may make it harder for protestors to gather at the location in greater numbers for events like they used to, since now they will literally just be standing or sitting on the street. In theory, any public demonstration is required to be registered with police in advance.

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In my post on August 20th, I wrote that “the fury of Fukushima lives on in Kasumigaseki”. Was that too optimistic? We shall see.

WILLIAM ANDREWS

https://throwoutyourbooks.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/anti-nuclear-power-protest-tents-forcibly-removed-ministry/

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment