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Japan’s renewed nuclear fuel recycling dream faces obstacles

After finally acknowledging the failure of its fast-breeder reactor, Japan plans to continue pursuing nuclear fuel recycling in a French project, but this program also faces an unclear future.



Jean-Marie Carrere, manager of the Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration (ASTRID) program, said the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) will decide in 2019 on whether to build the fast demonstration reactor.

The decision, he said, will be based on the results of 1 billion euros (about 115 billion yen) in research and development.

Carrere told Japanese reporters in Marcoule, southern France, on Oct. 14 that the CEA has no intention to scrap the ASTRID project, and that it was looking forward to Japan’s financial contributions.

But he did suggest the ASTRID project would require many changes following Japan’s decision to decommission the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture.

The CEA, lacking a fast reactor in operation in France, had planned to conduct some of its fuel-burning experiments at Monju.

Carrere indicated the CEA could possibly seek a partnership with Russia, which has a fast reactor the size of Monju.

The money-losing, problem-plagued Monju reactor was one of the pillars of Japan’s efforts to create a nuclear fuel recycling program. The plan was to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, which would be burned in nuclear reactors.

Fast-breeder reactors, such as Monju, are supposed to produce more plutonium than they burn.

According to Carrere, the concept for ASTRID has been completed, and it is now in its preliminary design phase. If the decision is made to build the reactor, the goal would be to put it into operation around 2030, he said.

The fast reactor is expected to generate 600 megawatts of electricity.

Relevant Cabinet members have discussed Japan’s direction in this field in a “committee for fast reactor development.”

Some expect joint research in the ASTRID project would allow Japan to keep alive its fast reactor research and maintain its nuclear fuel recycling policy, even if Monju is scrapped.

However, a senior science ministry official said in September that Japan could end up serving as a cash cow for the French project.



November 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

The ocean is losing its breath – and climate change is making it worse #auspol


Global climate change produces many effects – warming air energizes the atmosphere and intensifies storms; warmer water expands and raises sea level; storage of more carbon dioxide in the oceans is acidifying large realms. Now it is becoming clear that another, profound result of human activities is underway: lower oxygen levels in our oceans.

The world’s oceans, coastal seas, estuaries and many rivers and lakes are experiencing declines in dissolved oxygen. Long known as an issue associated with sewage discharges and fertilizer runoff, the problem now is exacerbated by climate change, often independent of nutrient loads, and is global in scale.
If left unchecked, this decline will result in losses of fisheries and biodiversity, poorer water quality, and knock-on effects ranging from falling tourism to reduced marine ecosystem services.
In 2015, scientists from around the world formed an IOC (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission)-UNESCO working group called the Global Ocean Oxygen Network…

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November 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate science: Bad news gets worse #auspol 


By Dominique Schroeder

Diplomats from 196 nations gather from Monday for 12-day UN climate talks tasked with charting a path for capping global warming at “well below” two degree Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels.
Here are some key climate measures from 2015 and 2016 which suggest why that may be difficult:

+2.8C (5.0F)

Earth is on track for a third successive year of highest-ever average surface temperatures since records began in 1880.

Each of the first eight months of 2016 were the hottest ever registered (with September the second hottest). September was nearly 1C (1.8F) above the 20th century average for that month.

For the first time ever, the average temperature in 2015 was a full degree Celsius above the pre-industrial era benchmark used by the UN climate science panel and in UN talks.

In the Arctic, land surface temperature in 2015 matched the record years of 2007…

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November 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

November 4 Energy News


Science and Technology:

¶ A UN review of national plans to cut carbon says they are well short of the levels needed to keep the rise in global temperatures under 2° C. The report finds that by 2030 the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere will be some 25% above that mark. Many scientists say that technology to remove carbon from the air will be needed. [BCC]

Era of worse weather  (Photo by Justin Hobson, CC BY SA, Wikimedia Commons) An era of gradually worsening weather
(Photo by Justin Hobson, CC BY SA, Wikimedia Commons)


¶ Ratch Australia and Port Bajool have reached financial close on the 180-MW Mount Emerald wind farm in Queensland, according to the state government. The $380-million project now has engineering, procurement and construction contracts in place, a long-term contract, a 25-year grid connection agreement and finance secured. [reNews]

¶ EU Priority Dispatch rules require network operators to feed energy produced by renewables…

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November 4, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russia, Japan Team Up to Study How Radiation Affects the Next Generation’s DNA



Russia and Japan are set to team up to become leaders in transgenerational healthcare research, to help prevent the effects of nuclear catastrophes being passed genetically from one generation to the next indefinitely.

Both Russia and Japan have a stake in this research, given that both countries are still dealing with radiation exposure via the events in Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Fukushima and Chernobyl. “This research is extremely important in relation to future generations we are responsible for,” said Nomura Taisei, Radiation Biology and Medical Genetics Department Head at National Institute for Biomedical Research at Osaka University.

The professor was at the 15th Congress on Innovation Technologies in Pediatrics and Pediatric Surgery which was held in Moscow from October 25-27, making a report on trasngenerational healthcare. His report shines a light on how exposure to radiation is passed down through generations via DNA mutation.

When DNA is damaged, the consequences for future generations are serious.Birth abnormalities, developmental disorders, a weakened immune system, higher cancer risks, and numerous physical and mental disorders are all the result of these gene mutations passed down to future generations. While the effects of radiation exposure passing between generations has so far not been widely studied in humans, the effects on experimental animal subjects is more widely understood.

Professor Nomura’s experiments on mice proved that genetic effects of radiation exposure can cause genetic defects into the 58th generation. The problem is that Japan has very little data on radiation exposure on humans.

This is where Russia can help, through opening up their database on three tree generations of people: those who were exposed after the Chernobyl disaster, those who were exposed prenatally, and those whose parents were exposed before impregnation. Thus Russia and Japan can now conduct joint comparative research of the effects of radiation on animals and on humans applying the latest technologies.

The Head of Children’s Scientific and Practical Center of Radiation Protection, Larisa Naleva told Sputnik Japan about the importance of this Russian-Japanese research project.

“We assume that the phenomenon of radiation-induced genetic instability has significant effects not only on the health of exposed people but also on the health of their children, first of all, resulting in an increased cancer risk. We have already detected an increase of morbidity in the second generation of exposed people’s descendants and now we are studying the third generation. Today in Russia there are about 135 thousand children who have been exposed or are exposed to radiation to some extent,” said Naleva. By using Japan’s expertise, Naleva hopes that the health risk for subsequent generations of those who were exposed to radiation can be reduced. “And that is the goal of our collaboration with our Japanese colleagues,” she said.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | radiation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japan’s government should stay out of U.S. sailors’ lawsuit against Tepco


Anti-nuclear village voice: Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi attends a press conference in Carlsbad, California, in May with former U.S. soldiers who have sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. for damage to their health they believe was caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The author of this column, Brian Victoria, who acted as translator for Koizumi during the trip, is seated on the left.

Dear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,

Let me first acknowledge that after four long years of silence, the Japanese government has finally taken a position regarding the lawsuit filed against Tokyo Electric Power Co. in the U.S. by more than 450 American sailors, marines and civilians who were on board the USS Reagan and accompanying military ships off the coast of Tohoku after 3/11.

These young people experienced serious health problems resulting from, they allege, radiation exposure while participating in Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. military’s humanitarian rescue mission launched in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, and subsequent multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

While the Japanese government’s acknowledgement of the suit is welcome, the unconditional support it has given to Tepco is a matter of deep concern. Even now, U.S. service personnel find themselves prevented from seeking justice because Tepco, with the support of the Japanese government, is doing its utmost to ensure the case will never be heard in an American court.

The Japanese government submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 3. An amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief is one presented by a party not directly involved in the suit in the hope of influencing the outcome. The brief contains two points:

1. “The Government of Japan has developed a comprehensive system to ensure compensation for victims of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.”

2. “Damage claims brought in tribunals outside of Japan threaten the continuing viability of the compensation system established by the Government of Japan.”

Examining the first point, if the Japanese government truly had “a comprehensive system to ensure compensation for victims,” there would be no need for the U.S. service members’ lawsuit. Yet, as you know, the Japanese government and its subsidiaries have, to date, not paid a single yen to any non-Tepco-related victim of radiation exposure from Fukushima No. 1. This includes, as of March this year, a total of 173 children from the prefecture who underwent surgery after being diagnosed with suspected thyroid cancer, 131 of whom were confirmed to have had cancer.

If the Japanese government will not admit that the suffering of its own children was caused by radiation exposure, how confident can young Americans be that the apparently radiation-induced injuries they experienced will be recognized as such, let alone compensated for, in Japan?

Further, at least seven of these previously healthy young Americans have already died and many others are too ill to travel to Japan even if they could afford to, let alone reside in this country during lengthy legal procedures, which typically take years to resolve. This is not to mention the prospect of expensive legal costs, including for court fees, hiring Japanese lawyers, translation of relevant documents, etc. And let us never forget, Prime Minister, it was the Japanese government that requested the assistance of these American military personnel.

As for the second point above, I agree the U.S. military personnel’s lawsuit threatens “the continuing viability of the compensation system established by the Government of Japan.” For example, if a U.S. court were to ascribe the plaintiffs’ illnesses to radiation exposure, how could the Japanese government continue to claim that none of the many illnesses the children and adults of Fukushima presently experience are radiation-related? The American service personnel truly serve as “the canary in the coal mine” when it comes to demonstrating the damaging effects of radiation exposure. Moreover, this canary is out of the Japanese government’s ability to control.

Let us further suppose that an American court were to award $3 million per person as compensation for the deaths, currently standing at seven, of the military personnel who were irradiated. By contrast, the Japanese government continues to deny compensation, for radiation-induced illnesses let alone deaths, to its own citizens. This would surely impact the “viability” (not to mention reputation) of the Japanese government in its ongoing denial of radiation-related injuries to non-Tepco employees.

Let me close by noting that there is one Japanese political leader who has accepted personal responsibility for the injuries inflicted on American service personnel. I refer to former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who, after meeting with injured servicemen and women in San Diego in May, initiated a fund to meet as many of the medical needs of these sailors and marines as possible.

Fortunately, thanks to the support of thousands of ordinary Japanese, he has already raised $700,000 toward his $1 million goal. With tears in his eyes, Koizumi explained that he could not ignore the suffering of hundreds of formerly healthy young Americans who willingly put themselves at risk in order to render aid to the Japanese people.

Prime Minister Abe, I call on you to end the Japanese government’s unconditional legal support of Tepco. Further, if the Japanese government has a conscience, please immediately provide medical aid and compensation to the hundreds of American victims of Operation Tomodachi.



November 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo to Burden New Utilities, Public With Paying Soaring Costs of Fukushima




Struggling to curb the ever-growing cost of the fallout from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Tokyo has come up with an idea of obliging future utility companies to pay a share of the compensation to victims, and for potential future meltdowns.

Today, Japan’s top ten conventional energy companies, including Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (Tepco), which owned the Fukushima plant, are providing regular contributions to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., established following the March 2011 disaster.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) proposed Wednesday that electricity companies that enter the retail electricity market after the regulatory loosening up in April 2016 will pay a share of Fukushima compensation as well, the Japa Times reported.

The agency has also designed a new system that would force Tepco, Japan’s largest electric utility, to allocate its excess profits to a fund dealing with the decommissioning of the Fukushima facilities’ reactors. Under current legislation, Tepco’s extra profits are returned to customers in the form of lowered electricity bills. METI noted that customers should have to share responsibility for the liquidation of the disaster aftermath, as they have long benefited from nuclear power. In the meantime, the costs for relieving the disaster’s consequences continue to surge. Expenditures on cleanup of the meltdown site have already exceeded the two trillion yen that the government had hoped to spend on it. By the end of the 2015 fiscal year, some 4.2 trillion yen had been spent to decommission the reactor, compensate victims and carry out radioactive decontamination at the meltdown spot.

Some 2.34 trillion yen have also been allocated to a special account for creating an interim storage facility for contaminated soil, disposal of contaminated water and for the decontamination of affected areas.

Tepco’s efforts to prevent the contamination of underground water with frozen soil barriers have not been fruitful so far, however, suggesting that new solutions and new transactions are required. METI has estimated that cleanup and decommissioning efforts will likely take more than 30 years to complete. The Fukushima Daichii plant’s reactors melted down after the Great East Japan Earthquake, followed by a disastrous tsunami. It was the most significant nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.


November 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

To October 4 Climate News, and Nuclear

a-cat-CANThe annual United Nations climate change conference starts in Marrakech on Monday and will also serve as the first official meeting of parties to the Paris agreement struck in 2015. Even with the Paris climate deal, world will warm 3.4°C by 2100. Famine, war and disease – a grim future if climate change is not stalled. Drifting into Arctic Un-Winter. Experts doubt that geo-engineering will succeed in halting climate change. Leonardo Di Caprio’s new film “Before The Flood” debunks climate myths

Mikhail Gorbachev leads, in appeal for dialogue, and reason.

UN vote to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons- Australia voted against it.

6th depleted uranium resolution passed by UN General Assembly’s First Committee.

SOUTH AFRICA: Eskom’s nuclear procurement plan raises more questions than it answers. Eskom boss Brian Molefe is not coping well with South Africa’s corruption scandal.

UK. Secret documents reveal that British tax-payers will cop the costs of Hinkley’s nuclear wastes and any serious accident. Hinkley construction “milestone” reached before contract signed.  China determined to export nuclear expertise: it all hangs on UK Hinkley project.  Fears over core safety as cracks found in Scots nuclear reactor.

NORTH KOREA. Top secret operation into North Korea to destroy Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons stash.  Top Nuclear Negotiators of US, China Meet in Beijing to discuss concerns over North Korea.

CHINA. Warning that a USA strike on North Korea would spark war with China.Meltdown in China’s Nuclear Power Plans.

USA. President Obama’s important legacy on climate change.  A new tool for law enforcement agencies to identify criminal nuclear activity.  ‘Substantial weaknesses’ in TVA safety culture at new nuclear plant.  Just like any other house – but it’s got a SOLAR ROOF.

JAPAN. Asahi Shimbun made brave effort for investigative journalism.   Japan’s vote against nuke ban talks mocks its anti-nuke credo.  Survivors of A-bomb protest Japan opposing nuke ban treaty. Gov’t to seek disaster compensation funds from consumers who used nuclear energy.

RUSSIA. Russia’s top secret nuclear sacrifice zone revealed.

INDIA. India turning away from fossil fuels, to replace coal with cheaper solar power by 2022

SPAIN. By 2100 Southern Spain headed to become a desert, with climate change

November 4, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Famine, war and disease, as climate apocalypse threatens the world

UN paints apocalyptic picture of famine, war and disease unless world wakes up to dangers of climate change, Independent UK 

‘We will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy; the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver’

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent, 3 Nov 16  The world will “grieve over the avoidable human tragedy” of climate change, as refugees flee “hunger, poverty, illness and conflict” unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, the United Nations has warned.Despite the Paris climate agreement being hailed as a the “moment we decided to save our planet” by US President Barack Obama among others, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the commitments made by countries so far were “not nearly enough” to prevent disastrous global warming.


In a report, which UNEP said it hoped would be a “wake-up call to the world”, the world body estimated the Earth’s average temperature was set to increase by up to 3.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100 – the kind of change that would take at least tens of thousands of years to occur naturally, accomplished by humans in little over two centuries. It called for further measures to reduce greenhouse gases by a quarter by 2030.

Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real, the total amount of greenhouse gases produced by humans has continued to rise as countries have focused on short-term economic growth.Next week world leaders will meet in Morocco for the first major climate summit after Paris, which organisers have pledged will be a “conference of concrete action”.The UNEP report was unequivocal about the need for the countries to co-operate with that aim in mind.

“Everybody willing to look can see the impact of our changing climate. People already face rising seas, expanding desertification and coastal erosion. They take little comfort from agreements to adopt mitigation measures and finance adaptation in the future. They need action today,” wrote Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, and Jacqueline McGlade, UNEP’s chief scientist, in the report’s foreword.

But the reductions in greenhouse gases promised at Paris were “not nearly enough”.

“This report estimates we are actually on track for global warming of up to 3.4 degrees Celsius,” the foreword said. “Current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster. We must take urgent action. If we don’t, we will mourn the loss of biodiversity and natural resources. We will regret the economic fallout.

“Most of all, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy; the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver. None of this will be the result of bad weather. It will be the result of bad choices by governments, private sector and individual citizens.”

Under the Paris treaty, the world committed to trying to restrict global warming to as close to 1.5C as possible, a target that looks increasingly unlikely to be met given it is already at 1C.A leading climate researcher, Professor Niklas Höhne, of the NewClimate Institute in Cologne, previously told The Independent that three degrees of warming would be “completely catastrophic”, resulting in a world that was “not very pleasant” for its human population with increasingly severe droughts, floods and storms.It is also could trigger a number of ‘tipping points’ such as the melting of permafrost in the northern tundra, releasing vast amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, that would send the temperature spiralling upwards………

Speaking last month, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern – who published a landmark report by the financial dangers of climate change 10 years ago – warned the world’s economy could “self-destruct” if fossil fuels continued to be burned.


November 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Urgent and dramatic need for world to act on climate change

global-warming1World is set to warm 3.4°C by 2100 even with Paris climate deal Paris climate1
By New Scientist staff and Press Association, 3 Nov 16 

The world must “urgently and dramatically” step up its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions if it is to have any chance of limiting dangerous climate change, according to a new report.

Released in London a day before the Paris Agreement comes into force, the report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that 2030 emissions are set to exceed by more than a quarter the levels needed to keep global warming below the crucial 2 °C level.

Without swift reductions in emissions, the world is on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 °C  to 3.4 °C  this century, even if the pledges agreed in Paris last year are fully implemented, the report warned.

The Paris Agreement committed signatories — including the UK — to holding the increase in global average temperatures well below 2 °C  above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C, which it said would “significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

Emissions still too high

But the UNEP report finds that, on current trends, emissions are set to reach the equivalent of 54-56 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide by the end of the next decade – well above the 42 gigatonne maximum if warming is to be kept below 2 °C .

 The demand for urgent action is reinforced by the fact that 2015 was the hottest year on record and the first six months of 2016 were each the warmest recorded, said the report.

The report found that members of the G20 group of industrialised nations, including the UK, were collectively “on a likely track” to meet greenhouse gas reduction pledges made in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

But it warned that the Cancun promises “do not deliver the necessary early emission reductions” to avoid breaching the 2 °C  threshold.

Not good enough

Though the Paris Agreement will slow climate change, it’s still not quite good enough if we are to stand a chance of avoiding serious climate change, said Erik Solheim, head of UNEP.

“If we don’t start taking additional action now, beginning with the upcoming climate meeting in Marrakesh, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy,” said Solheim.

“The growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver,” he said. “The science shows that we need to move much faster.”

UNEP identified a range of actions which could deliver large reductions in emissions by 2030.

Investment in energy efficiency measures totalling between $20 and $100 US per tonne of carbon dioxide could deliver global reductions of 5.9 gigatonnes for buildings, 4.1 gigatonnes for industry and 2.1 gigatonnes for transport, the report said.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Mikhail Gorbachev leads, in appeal for dialogue, and reason

diplomacy-not-bombsMikhail Gorbachev Appeals for Sanity, Dialogue 

“The worst thing that has happened in recent years is the collapse of trust in relations between major powers, The window to a nuclear weapon-free world…is being shut and sealed right before our eyes.” Common dreams, by John Scales Avery OSLO  October 29, 2016  by Inter Press Service– President Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union and recipient of the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize, has appealed to world leaders to reduce the dangerous tensions, which today threaten to plunge human civilization and the biosphere into an all-destroying nuclear war.

In an October 10 interview with RIA Novosti, Gorbachev said: “I think the world has reached a dangerous point, I don’t want to give any concrete prescriptions, but I do want to say that this needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake.”

“It is necessary to return to the main priorities. These are nuclear disarmament, the fight against terrorism, the prevention of an environmental disaster,” he continued. “Compared to these challenges, all the rest slips into the background.”

Later the same day, in Iceland, President Gorbachev said: “The worst thing that has happened in recent years is the collapse of trust in relations between major powers, The window to a nuclear weapon-free world…is being shut and sealed right before our eyes.”

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a danger that someday they will be used as a result either of accident or technical failure or of evil intent of man, an insane person or terrorist,” Gorbachev said.

Alyn Ware Agrees

Alyn Ware, the International Co-ordinater of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, commented:

“I would concur with the assessment of Gorbachev.”

“I have been at the UN General Assembly October sessions (Disarmament and International Security) every year since 1988. This year was the most acrimonious I have ever seen. The tensions between Russia and NATO/Ukraine/US spilled over into the deliberations with accusations and counter accusations flying in many of the sessions. And these were not the only tensions. Syria/Yemen/Middle East, India/Pakistan and North Korea v South Korea/Japan/USA were also vitriolic towards each other.”

“Tension reduction, confidence building and diplomacy are vital at this time”, Alyn Ware continued, “Without this, disarmament is unlikely to occur and further armed conflict is very likely.”

The New UN Secretary General

Hope that the current extremely dangerous tensions can be reduced comes from the appointment of former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as the new UN Secretary General. The Security Council was united in making this appointment, thus giving us hope for better cooperation in the future…….

November 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Experts doubt that geo-engineering will succeed in halting climate change

geoengineeringGeo-engineering unlikely to work, conservation group says November 1, 2016, by Alex Kirby Attempts to limit climate change by using the novel technologies known as geo-engineering are very unlikely to work, leading biologists say.

LONDON, 1 November, 2016 – The global watchdog responsible for protecting the worlds wealth of species, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), has looked at the hopes for reining in climate change through geo-engineering. Its bleak conclusion, echoing that reached by many independent scientists, is that the chances are “highly uncertain”.

“Novel means”, in this context, describes trying to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by removing them from the atmosphere, and altering the amount of heat from the Sun that reaches the Earth.  

Some scientists and policymakers say geo-engineering, as these strategies are collectively known, is essential if the world is to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is because current attempts to reduce emissions cannot make big enough cuts fast enough to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2°C above their pre-industrial levels, the Agreement’s basic goal.

But the CBD says in a report that geo-engineering, while it could possibly help to prevent the world overheating, might endanger global biodiversity and have other unpredictable effects.

Many independent analysts have raised similar concerns.Attempts to increase the amount of carbon in the oceans, in order to remove GHGs, have so far shown disappointing results. One report doubted that geo-engineering could slow sea-level rise. Another said it could not arrest the melting of Arctic ice. A third study found that geo-engineering would make things little better and might even make global warming worse 

Transboundary impacts

The lead author of the CBD geo-engineering report is a British scientist, Dr Phillip Williamson, of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council. He is an associate fellow in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK.

The CBD originally became involved in climate geo-engineering in 2008, because member governments were concerned that experiments to fertilise the oceans could pose unknown risks to the environment (they were then unregulated when carried out in international waters).

The CBD’s concern expanded to include other geo-engineering techniques, especially atmospheric methods which could have uncertain transboundary impacts. Some scientists argue that “geo-engineering” is a hazily-defined term and prefer to speak instead simply of “greenhouse gas removal”.

Dr Williamson and his colleagues say assessment of the impacts of geo-engineering on biodiversity “is not straightforward and is subject to many uncertainties”.

On greenhouse gas removal they warn that removing a given quantity of a greenhouse gas would not fully compensate for an earlier ‘overshoot’ of emissions.

New risks

In some cases, they say, the cure may be worse than the disease: “The large-scale deployment of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) seems likely to have significant negative impacts on biodiversity through land use change.”

When it comes to attempts to reflect sunlight back out into space or to manage solar radiation, a familiar theme recurs: “There are high levels of uncertainty about the impacts of SRM [solar radiation management] techniques, which could present significant new risks to biodiversity.”

Time and again, it seems, a potential advance is liable to be cancelled by an equally likely reverse: if SRM benefits coral reefs by decreasing temperature-induced bleaching (as it may), in certain conditions “it may also increase, indirectly, the impacts of ocean acidification.” There could even be a risk in some circumstances of loss to the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

Dr Williamson and his colleagues believe that geo-engineering is essential – if it can be made to work – because of the diminishing chances that anything else will.

They write: “It may still be possible that deep and very rapid decarbonisation by all countries might allow climate change to be kept within a 2°C limit by emission reduction alone. However, any such window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

Repeatedly, those two words recur: a suggested technique or development will be “highly uncertain”. Most of the report amounts to a very cautious call for more research, coupled with an implicit acceptance that in the end geo-engineering is unlikely to prove capable of contributing much to climate mitigation.

Dr Williamson told the Climate News Network: “I’m sceptical. That’s not to say bio-energy with carbon capture and storage is impossible, but it seems extremely unlikely to be feasible (for all sorts of reasons)” at the scale needed.

When the CBD member governments meet in December they are expected to call for more research: a safe option in most circumstances, but far from a ringing endorsement of a technology once seen as very promising. – Climate News Network

November 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

6th depleted uranium resolution passed by UN General Assembly’s First Committee

depleted-uraniumflag-UN-largeUN General Assembly’s First Committee passes 6th depleted uranium resolution

Germany and Canada abstain, Norway joins the Netherlands in questioning language on the potential health risks from DU, Palau votes in favour for the first time.
1 November 2016 – ICBUW 146 states have voted in favour of the sixth resolution on DU weapons since 2007. This year’s text paid particular attention to the technical difficulties that affected states face in tackling DU contamination to internationally recognised radiation protection standards.

The resolution also took note of the ongoing concerns from states such as Iraq, and from health experts and civil society over the effects of the weapons on civilians. With the vote coming a week since the US admitted firing DU in Syria in 2015, concern over the health and environmental consequences of the use of the weapons is once again on the international agenda.

“With attention increasingly focused on the lack of obligations for the post-conflict management of DU contamination, the resolution’s reference to the difficulties affected states face is welcome,” said ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir. “Without clear standards for clearance, and a mechanism for international assistance, civilians will continue to face avoidable exposure risks.”

True to form, just four states voted against the text, which will be voted on again by the General Assembly in early December. The US, UK, France and Israel remain the only four governments to continuously oppose the resolutions. In spite of repeated appeals from the European Parliament for progress on the topic, EU member states remained split on the resolution, with many among the 26 states still abstaining.

Germany, who up until 2014 had supported the resolutions, once again abstained, angering campaigners from ICBUW-Germany. Their position is all the more frustrating given that they elected not to develop DU weapons on the grounds of acceptability in the 1970s; and needless to say they warn their own military personnel of the dangers of battlefield exposure. Many abstainers used language in paragraph seven of the text to justify their political decision to abstain.

Last month Germany’s Foreign Minister Michael Roth claimed that the government took the debate on DU “very seriously” in a response to a parliamentary question from Green MP Agnieszka Brugger. However, in the run up to the vote Germany repeatedly sought to weaken the text of the resolution even though it seems apparent that Berlin had no intention of voting in favour.

“PAX is deeply disturbed that states abstaining on the resolution refused to recognise civilian concerns over exposure to depleted uranium, civilians who are rightly concerned that low-level radioactive waste in their environment could impact the lives of their families,” said PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg. “Those states abstaining should look to their own guidelines on radiation protection and then consult their consciences on what would be the right thing do when it comes to protecting civilians in armed conflict.”

Prior to the 2015 election that saw Justin Trudeau sweep to power in Canada, his Liberal Party had been polled on their views on DU by Mines Action Canada. Their response couldn’t have been clearer: “The Liberal Party of Canada opposes the use of depleted uranium munitions.” Sadly Canada failed to live up to this ideal and abstained once again.

In spite of championing work on DU for many years, Norway joined the Netherlands in submitting an explanation of vote that cautioned against the use of language on the “potential health risks from DU”. While both nevertheless voted in favour, they argued that the term “possible health effects” would have been preferable.

ICBUW was pleased that Sweden and Bulgaria, who first voted in favour of the resolution in 2014 supported the text again this year. Sweden joined Switzerland in calling for harm reduction measures, such as risk awareness work for affected communities. Palau voted in favour for the first time, continuing the trend that has seen the number of abstentions decreasing in recent years.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium, politics international | Leave a comment

Mother’s Radiation Lab and Clinic 

No High Level International Nuclear Waste Dump in South Australia, Paul Richards, 2 Nov 16  Exactly what the radiation fuel cycle means to all mothers in the Fukushima region by looking at the outcome of the nuclear disaster, more on a day to day basis

The relatively short video shows a female perspective of how women are dealing with the risk despite the Japanese governments, lack of radiation testing, children’s health checks, financial and social support – the social responsibility to their community

Women suffer the most from this stoic denial that radiation effects the community, causing unnecessary stress from risk of radionuclide ingestion on a child’s growing body, well established to be many times more sensitive to radiation due to rapidly dividing cells programmed by DNA at risk during early development

It is sad a mother’s worldview has been largely left out of the South Australian debate around the whole nuclear cycle dominated by senior male nuclear sales executives and academics

However, that isn’t any surprise, as that is how the world embraced the whole nuclear industry in the first place, that is from a purely patriarchal worldview and that is a matter of our species shameful human history

November 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan, radiation | Leave a comment

President Obama’s important legacy on climate change

Barack Obama is the first climate president 2 November 2016 by John Abraham

My how far we’ve come in less than eight years. We have seen happen what those of us in the climate and energy fields knew could happen. The US has become a world leader on climate change, dramatically increased our production of clean and renewable fuels, reduced our emissions of greenhouse gases, signed major international agreements to continue progress into the future, and have done so without cost increases or power disruptions that the denial community proclaimed would occur.

As we in the United States get ready to elect a new president, it is helpful to think about the impact a president can have. Particularly since we transitioned from the worst climate president ever (Bush) to the best (Obama). I am going to detail what I think are Obama’s signature accomplishments.

Obama solar

In my mind, the most important part of President Obama’s legacy on climate is that he changed the conversation. He showed that not only should the US play a role in reducing emissions, but we can do just that. He showed that this problem isn’t too big to solve. In fact, most of the solutions are subtle enough that we don’t even notice them. He showed that we can change our future for the better.

With respect to specific actions, the Clean Power Plan is one of his biggest accomplishments. By working with the EPA, he created the first ever carbon pollution standards for the largest source of pollution – power plants. He did this in the midst of a do-nothing congress that fought him every step of the way.

Under his presidency, we made huge investments in clean energy, which are paying off already. Jump starts to the wind and solar industry have led to enormous cost decreases – dirty energy isn’t cheaper anymore. It is really astonishing – wind power has tripled and solar power has increased by 30 times since he took office.

Under his presidency, we improved standards for fuel economy of our vehicles, which not only reduces pollution but also saves money. Furthermore, Obama set targets to reduce the federal government’s emissions by nearly 20% by 2025. He has worked to reduce other types of greenhouse gases such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons, not only within the US but through international agreements.

And those aren’t the only international efforts. Obama made a joint plan with China that is almost unbelievably ambitious. It will reduce our emissions by approximately 27% by 2025 and puts major limits on Chinese emissions as well. He also forged an agreement with India to help low-income countries transition to modern economies that are not as polluting as current developed nations.

There are many more items which would be too numerous to mention but I wanted to know how his presidency is viewed within Washington DC. I mean, among climatescientists, he is the president we’ve been waiting for, but what do legislators think? I asked representative Betty McCollum from Minnesota for her view. Ms. McCollum has a long history of focusing on the environment in general and climate change in particular – long before it was popular. She told me: Click here to read the rest

November 4, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment