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January 8 Energy News


Science and Technology:

¶ Yellow cedar, a type of tree that thrives in soggy soil from Alaska to Northern California and is valued for its commercial and cultural uses could become a noticeable casualty of climate warming, an independent study in the journal Global Change Biology concluded. It cited snow-cover loss that led to colder soil. [The Japan Times]

Yellow cedars grow along Sheep Lake east of the Cascade Crest in Washington state. | AP Yellow cedars grow along a lake in Washington state. | AP

¶ Alaska’s finances are suffering disproportionately from climate change. Its glaciers lose roughly 42 cubic km (10 cubic miles) of ice per year, its sea ice continues to decline, its shorelines may be eroding at an accelerating rate, its permafrost is melting, and it suffers from forest fires at the greatest rate in 10,000 years. [Ars Technica UK]


¶ Officials in Beijing are creating an environmental police force in a step towards tackling the city’s long-standing…

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January 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shocking images from Moria refugee camp of refugees forced to live in the snow (Lesbos, Greece) #UNHCR

Shocking images from Moria refugee camp of migrants forced to live in the snow (Lesbos, Greece)

Disgraceful images to anyone calling themselves human has leaked out of Moria refugee camp in Lesbos island, Greece, exposing the dreadful and inhumane conditions that migrants are being forced to endure in order to survive in – 5°C, sleeping in tents, on the frozen ground, under heavy snowfall. The severe weather conditions had been foreseen and expected for many days before and yet hundreds of people that sacrificed everything to escape to “civilized” Europe have been left to their own demise.

The footage itself has been captured on January 7, 2017 by an anonymous refugee, as a desperate message to the world about the appalling conditions provided by the UNHCR, that in turn contradict the ridiculously false statement of Greek Migration Minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, on January 5, 2017 that “there are no refugees or migrants living in the cold anymore. We successfully completed the procedures for overwintering, with the exception of 40 tents left in Vyiohori and another 100 in Athens”.

“This is not normal, we are human beings, I know of dogs who have a better life”, the refugee reiterates in disbelief of the torture that so many people in need are being forced to live in the outskirts of “Fortress Europe”.

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What do you  know about the Gulf Stream? #auspol 


Americans who are concerned about climate change have long found themselves in an unenviable position: They have to debate about the existence of a debate.
For about two decades, the vast majority of climate scientists have agreed that human industrial activity is forcing the planet to warm. For about as long, some doubters have argued that this consensus is nonexistent or premature—and that, despite repeated studies identifying it, media attempts to report on the consensus constitute so much liberal bias.
These fights will likely be recapitulated this month. Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the EPA, has invested a lot of time in fighting the Obama administration’s climate and environmental regulations. He has not, however, said very much on the record about climate change.
One of his only quotes on the matter appeared in a National Review editorial last year. “Scientists…

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January 7 Energy News



¶ “China is going all in on clean energy while Trump waffles. How is that making America great again?” • China announced that in the next three years it will invest $361 billion in renewable power, creating 13 million jobs. But the Trump administration talks about renewing an outdated love affair with coal and oil. [Environmental Defense Fund]

Wind farm in Guazhou (Photo: Popolon, Wikimedia Commons) Wind farm in Guazhou (Photo: Popolon, Wikimedia Commons)


¶ For the first time ever, the UK generated more electricity from wind than coal in a calendar year, and this led carbon emissions from the sector to drop 20%. Wind generated 11.5% of the UK’s electricity last year, whereas coal contributed just 9.2%, down 59% from the year before, an analysis by the Carbon Brief found. [City A.M.]

¶ China has made low-carbon transport a priority in dealing with climate change. As part of their effort…

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Udall Statement on Trump’s Nomination of Rex Tillerson to Secretary of State

Mining Awareness +

From US Senator Tom Udall:
Udall Statement on Trump’s Expected Nomination of Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State December 13, 2016

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement about President-elect Trump’s plan to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State:

“The U.S. Secretary of State represents the United States on the world stage. Rex Tillerson is the highly paid CEO for Exxon, a multinational oil company that has made tens of billions of dollars in profit over the years, in part due to its foreign oil interests. And this raises troubling questions about what his agenda might be as America’s top diplomat.

“With this nomination, President-elect Trump is blatantly breaking his promise to drain the swamp of wealthy special interests, and instead is proposing to give a position of vital national importance to the leader of a corporation that defends its…

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Chinese Nuclear Sub Spotted at Pakistani Port but India talks tough!


A Chinese nuclear-powered submarine was reportedly docked at a port in Pakistan, raising concerns across the border in India that it could have been monitoring the movement of its warships more closely than ever, reported NDTV.

By Aiswarya Lakshmi January 8, 2017
Showing an image on Google Earth of Chinese nuclear attack submarine docked in the harbour in Karachi in May last year,  the report proved that Beijing might be scrutinizing Indian warships’ movements far more closely than earlier.
The image was of Chinese navy type 091 “Han” class fast-attack submarine, the first class of nuclear-powered submarines deployed by China.
The report said the Indian Navy has pointed out that “advance military assets” like submarines aren’t “appropriate” for taking on Somali pirates who terrorise the seas in “small skiffs”.
Unlike conventional submarines, nuclear-powered submarines have an unlimited range of operations since their nuclear reactors rarely require to be refuelled.
That means the submarines, which are armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles, can be deployed underwater for extended durations where they are difficult to track.
Speaking on the presence of the Chinese Navy’s ships and submarines in Pakistan in December last year, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had said that India was keeping a close eye on them.
“We have capability and assets to take on any force which is deployed, and if and when this happens, we have plans in place to tackle it,” the Navy Chief had said.

January 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EXCLUSIVE: STRATCOM commander talks about growing up in Huntsville and the future of nuclear weapons


See video on link;

HUNTSVILLE, AL–In an exclusive interview, Huntsville native and Air Force General John Hyten, the commander of the United States Strategic Command spoke to Redstone Alabama’s Jeff Martin about growing up in the North Alabama city, what’s ahead for STRATCOM, and the future of nuclear weapons.

General Hyten graduated from Huntsville’s Grissom High School in 1977, and then went to Harvard, graduating in 1981 with a commission in the United States Air Force. He says that growing up in Huntsville inspired him to join the space program, and that the Air Force was a way to do it, adding that he “started that adventure in 1977, and I’m still going. So I think the Air Force got it’s money worth.” 

Speaking in an office overlooking Redstone Arsenal’s Von Braun Complex, which is the home of the Missile Defense Agency and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic, General Hyten talked about that inspiration, saying “My dad came here with the Apollo program in 1965. And my dad got to work on the Saturn V and I got to see the F-1 engine test here. I got to go to the Cape and watch them build up the infrastructure for the Saturn V. I got to meet Wernher Von Braun when I was in fifth grade. Those things shape who you are and what you want to do.” 

After graduating Harvard, General Hyten went on to numerous assignments, including working on anti-satellite technology at Redstone Arsenal. However, the majority of his career has been spent on leveraging space systems for military use. 

A lot of people don’t realize that they don’t get gas without the space systems that the Air Force provides. We don’t go anywhere in the world and conduct military operations without space”, he said. 

Before taking over his current job at US Strategic Command, he was the commander of Air Force Space Command, based in Colorado. In November, he took over Strategic Command, which commands all of America’s strategic nuclear forces, cyber weapons, and space operations.

At that ceremony, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter described Hyten as someone who’s “helped shape thinking at our government’s highest levels about the threats we face in space”. He also told the crowd that Hyten “has developed a keen understanding of the current and future operational needs of our DoD space force and how to acquire the capabilities we need.  His experience and expertise will be a tremendous asset to STRATCOM as we prepare and face future threats in all domains.”

US Strategic Command has a key mission. Descended from the Cold War-era Strategic Air Command, STRATCOM forces are deployed around the world, on nuclear submarines, flying heavy bombers and in missile silos across the American West.

A lot of people are scared about nuclear weapons, I don’t think anybody likes nuclear weapons. But I know what a world looks like without nuclear weapons, because my father in law fought in World War II. And from 1939 to 1945, when we didn’t have a strategic deterrent, the world killed somewhere between sixty and eight million people in those six years. That’s about 30,000 people a day. Our job is to prevent that from ever happening again”, General Hyten said when asked about his command’s role and the importance of having nuclear weapons. 

But in order to carry that mission out, General Hyten argues that modernization is needed. 

I still have to advocate for them, because if we don’t build them, because if we don’t build those, we’re in a significant problem. Not now, but about a decade from now, some really significant risks could start”, he said. 

The risks he’s talking about could be severe. The newest ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) was commissioned in 1997, the newest land based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were built in the 1970s and the Air Force is still flying 1950s and 1960s era B-52 bombers. 

Just last week, the Pentagon announced that work on the Columbia-class submarines, the replacement for the current Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, had hit Milestone B, which means detailed design work could begin. That announcement confirmed that the projected construction start date of 2021 was on track. That news was big to General Hyten, but he cautioned that if the program gets delayed at all, the consequences could be severe. 

“If the Ohio Class Replacement program gets delayed a year, every year that it gets delayed, I lose as the commander, or my successor, I’ll lose one submarine from the strategic force. Two years go by, two submarines drop out. At some point, you lose the sea element of that triad”, he said. 

The “triad” he’s referring to is the strategic deterrent triad. It had three “legs”. Sea-based nuclear ballistic submarines provide one, nuclear-armed bombers provide a second, and nuclear-tipped ICBMs provide a third. Each is separate from each other.

Beyond the sea-launched leg of the triad, other modernization is in the pipeline. The Air Force is working on the B-21 Raider, designed to replace aging B-52s, the Long Range Stand Off Missile (LRSO), designed to replace current air-launched cruise missiles, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), which will replace the nation’s ICBMs. Boeing’s proposal for the GBSD is managed in Huntsville.

When asked about those programs, General Hyten seemed confidant about the programs, saying “We’re in a good place on the bomber right now. the work is under way. We need to have some decisions made on the long range, the next cruise missile, the long range missile, we need to have decisions made there. Hopefully those will be made this year. Its interesting though, as the STRATCOM commander, my job is to advocate for those capabilities. The services, the navy and the Air Force in these cases, are actually the people who have to build that. I’m the combatant commander that operates that. But I still have to advocate for them, because if we don’t build them, because if we don’t build those, we’re in a significant problem.”

Missile defense is also a hot topic now, especially with North Korea supposedly preparing to test their own ICBM. America’s missile defense forces are under the US Strategic Command, and the command elements are based on Redstone Arsenal. The operational units are based around the world, some of them in Alaska.

” If you ever look at a map and see how far north Fort Greely is in Alaska, and it’s somewhere between forty and fifty below zero there today. You think it’s cold here in Huntsville, when it’s cold and it may snow half an inch, well, they’re under a thick blanket of snow and its forty below zero. You have soldiers standing watch in case there is a launch against the United States, we have a defensive system, that will shoot it down. That’s their job to defend it all this time. and it’s not just the interceptors, we have a series of sensors, radars at the far end of the Aleutian islands in Alaska, radars in the Pacific, radars in Alaska proper, that are there to sense the capabilities. Then we have overhead space assets that are the bell-ringers, that see the event when it first happens. cue all of those capabilities and its all integrated together through an integrated command and control process to make sure that we’re not surprised, that we can defend the United States against those kind of adversaries that might want to do us harm with an ICBM. That cannot be allowed to happen”, he said. 

But in order for modernization to happen, a federal budget is needed, not another continuing resolution, General Hyten argued, saying that CR’s are not efficient ways of spending taxpayer dollars. “It’s just not a good way to do business. somehow, some day, we have to get past that, and start having normal budgeting processes”, he said. 

I’d like to make sure that we spend the money taxpayers give us in the most efficient way possible. and right now with the way the budget is, we don’t do that”, he added. 

January 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons race could weaken U.S. security

The U.S. is already secure, and doesn’t need to further expand its nuclear arsenal. Expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal could rather excite a nuclear race which America might not win. Therefore, the Trump administration should see the nuclear danger for what it is, and work with other countries for nuclear disarmament.
Updated 2017-01-09 09:26:45 China Daily

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump twittered in late December that the United States “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”. Later, he declared: “Let it be an arms race,” and asserted that the U.S. would win it. It seems he is committing a major mistake.

Like any other country, the U.S. deserves its legitimate national security. The U.S. first developed nuclear weapons through the Manhattan Project. And since the program was aimed at both keeping pace with the feared nuclear weapons development program of Nazi Germany and to counter imperialist Japan’s aggression, it gained legitimacy.

But the U.S. has often abused its nuclear policy. By flexing its nuclear muscles, the U.S. pushed the Soviet Union to expedite its nuclear weapons program in the late 1940s. By threatening China with a nuclear attack during the Korean War (1950-53), it forced Beijing to launch its own nuclear weapons program in the mid-1950s. And by waging an unjustified war in Iraq, the U.S. taught the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea the importance of possessing nuclear weapons.

Despite the several rounds of nuclear disarmament, the U.S. still deploys thousands of nuclear weapons and has more in its vaults. Russia has built a nuclear arsenal as powerful as the U.S.’, and China seems to have developed a cost-effective minimum deterrence to drive sense into potential rivals.

When Trump promised to strengthen the U.S.’ nuclear arsenal, in order to make other countries sensible, one wondered which countries Trump had in mind, and how much credit or damage his message would bring to the U.S. and the world. Did he mean to have a nuclear arms race with Russia, especially because Moscow is the only other power to have an equally massive, if not bigger, nuclear arsenal than the U.S.?

But U.S. President Barack Obama realistically “reset” Washington’s relations with Moscow in 2009 despite the Russia-Georgia conflict in 2008. And after Crimea’s inclusion into Russia in 2014, president-elect Trump seems interested in again “resetting” relations with Russia. This contradicts Trump’s own promise of “expanding nuclear weapons credibility”, and could lead to another Georgia- or Ukraine-like crisis.

Or, does Trump have an eye on China? Over 60 years ago China decided, despite its poverty, to go nuclear given the U.S. nuclear blackmail, and succeeded. Before China tested its nuclear weapons, the U.S. made a dozen nuclear threats against China, but after Beijing detonated its first nuclear device in 1964, the U.S. has not issued any open nuclear threats, vindicating the power of China’s own nuclear deterrence.

China has maintained a practical nuclear strategy of minimum deterrence, which has both boosted China’s national security and made it avoid an unnecessary nuclear arms race. At a time of resource scarcity, China’s approach was certainly a smart one.

But times have changed. The World Bank has said that, in terms of purchasing power parity, China became the largest economy two years ago. As long as China doesn’t perceive an increase in external threat, Beijing could live with its tradition. But if Trump forces other countries in a nuclear arms race, he could wake up to find that the U.S.’ relative nuclear credibility declining.

Rather than winning a nuclear weapons race, the U.S. national security could weaken vis-a-vis even the DPRK. Before the DPRK conducted its first nuclear test, the U.S. didn’t face any physical nuclear threat from Pyongyang. Now, given its rising capability to build long-range ballistic and sea-launched ballistic missiles, even the DPRK could deter the U.S. to certain extent, rather than merely the other way around. If Trump forces the DPRK into an arms race, the U.S. could find itself facing more risks.

The U.S. is already secure, and doesn’t need to further expand its nuclear arsenal. Expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal could rather excite a nuclear race which America might not win. Therefore, the Trump administration should see the nuclear danger for what it is, and work with other countries for nuclear disarmament.

The author is a professor at, and associate dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University.

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