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The first boat powered by emission-free energy. 

jpratt27

The first self-sufficient boat powered only by emission-free energy will start a six-year trip around the world in the spring.
Energy Observer, a former multi-hull race boat converted into a green vessel equipped with solar panels, wind turbines and a hydrogen fuel cell system, will be powered by wind, the sun and self-generated hydrogen.
The 5 million euro ($5.25 million) boat, which is currently in a shipyard in Saint-Malo, will set sail from the Brittany port and will make its first of 101 stops across 50 countries in Paris as part of a six-year circumnavigation.
“This boat will demonstrate that there are many solutions for energetic transition,” said French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, who attended the project presentation on Wednesday at the UNESCO headquarters. “All solutions are within nature.”
Designed in 1983 under the supervision of Mike Birch, the boat enjoyed a successful career in open-sea sailing races, including winning the…

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January 12 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Canada’s Vast Source of Climate Pollution May Go Bust” • The Canadian oil sands are one of the world’s most important sources of climate pollution, and they are America’s biggest source of imported oil. And they may be about to go bust. The reason is that oil prices need to be above $80 per barrel for mining oil sands to be profitable. [Climate Central]

Oil sands processing in Alberta. (Credit: Kris Krug / flickr) Oil sands processing in Alberta. (Credit: Kris Krug / flickr)

¶ “If Present Trends Continue, China May Become a Sustainable Development Success Story. (Really!)” • This year has already been characterized by global political uncertainty – and waning confidence in US climate policy. Now China is posed to assume the role of world leader in climate diplomacy and clean-energy finance. [UN Dispatch]

¶ “Renewables Are a Rising Global Tide – and the US Better
Pay Attention” • If the US…

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We’re all in this together. #auspol #science 

jpratt27

The Wretched State of the Human Family and Our Shared Ecological HabitatBY DR. GLEN BARRY · PUBLISHED JANUARY 8, 2017 · UPDATED JANUARY 8, 2017
Humanity’s one shared biosphere that makes Earth habitable is collapsing and dying as industrial growth overruns natural ecosystems and climate; as we have utterly failed to embrace our dependence upon each other and nature for our well-being and very survival. It is time to come together as one human family to resist injustice, inequity, violence, and non-sustainability as we create a rich and verdant life for all amidst resurgent natural ecosystems on a living Earth that can last essentially forever.

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell
We are one human family. Best we end the dysfunction and start acting like it or we destroy ourselves and our one shared habitat. – Dr. Glen Barry
Deep ecology essay by Dr…

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Fossil Capital: Why is capitalism addicted to fossil fuels? #auspol 

jpratt27

Why is capitalism addicted to fossil fuels?
A review of Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (Verso, 2016), £20
One of the biggest challenges that humanity faces is how to stop global warming. It is clear that if we don’t cut carbon emissions quickly then we face climate catastrophe. There is one very simple solution: to stop burning fossil fuels and make a rapid switch to the use of renewables such as solar, wind and tidal. But the problem is the very opposite is happening. The last decade has seen a boom in what may be termed dirty energy—fracking, deep water drilling and tar sand extraction have all been recently developed to enable the continued extraction of coal, gas and oil from hard-to-reach locations.
So why is this happening? When the entire future of the planet is at stake why are…

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#DayAgainstDenial Protests Across the US. #auspol #climatechange 

jpratt27

#DayAgainstDenial Protests Across the U.S. Call Attention to Climate Change as Trump Cabinet Confirmation Hearings Begin
By Sharon Kelly • Tuesday, January 10, 2017 – 11:57

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for the Cabinet began appearing before the U.S. Senate to start their confirmation hearing process on Tuesday — and some of the slots to be filled will have major implications for American climate change policies. Rex Tillerson, who announced his retirement as CEO of ExxonMobil, is scheduled to appear before the Senate on Wednesday, as is Elaine Chao, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Transporation.

On Monday, environmentalists nationwide organized protests at senators’ home offices, with organizers calling on their representatives to refuse to confirm Cabinet nominees hostile to combating climate change.
The #DayAgainstDenial protests attracted hundreds of demonstrators in cities large and small, organizers said. More than 200 people arrived at Senator Susan Collins’ office in Portland, Maine, according to…

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Climate Change: feel the despair, then work harder. #auspol 

jpratt27

In the face of the mind-boggling peril of climate change, feel the despair, then work harder
From confirmation that 2016 was New Zealand’s warmest year on record to the imminent inauguration of a big-emissions US president, it’s easy to understand desperation in the face of climate change. But we need to channel all our energies into urgent action, writes James Renwick.

Climate change and global warming have been in the news a lot lately. The year 2016 is about to be confirmed as the warmest globally), in records going back over 130 years. A 5000km2 slab of the Larsen C ice shelf is poised to break away any day. Global sea ice extent has been running millions of square kilometres below normal for months now, and Santa sweltered in temperatures 20°C above normal at the North Pole over the Christmas period. Heatwaves, fires, droughts, floods, have all been ascribed to…

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NOAA– Atmospheric CO2 Increased by 2.77 Parts Per Million During 2016

robertscribbler

According to NOAA, carbon dioxide — a key heat trapping gas — increased its atmospheric concentration by 2.77 parts per million during 2016. This was the third fastest rate of increase in the NOAA record following 2015 at a 3.03 ppm annual increase and 1998 at a 2.93 annual increase.

Earlier trends had indicated that 2016 might be on track to beat 2015 as a new record year (and a month by month comparison for the first 11 months of 2016 pointed toward a record rate of rise). These concerns, thankfully, did not materialize as atmospheric rates of accumulation slowed down during December of 2016 — which helped to push the overall year to year comparison lower (NOAA’s year-on-year rate of growth is based on a December to January comparison). Nonetheless, the high rate of atmospheric increase for 2016 remains a matter of concern.

co2-annual-rate-of-increase

(2015…

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January 11 Energy News

geoharvey

Science and Technology:

¶ Apple Inc is the most environment-friendly company in the world, according to a report from the non-profit Greenpeace Foundation. Apple retained the top spot for the third year in a row. Google and Facebook, Inc, also earned high marks from the non-profit for their efforts to cut down on greenhouse emissions. [Investopedia]

Drawing wind power Drawing wind power

World:

¶ Volkswagen has agreed to a draft $4.3 billion settlement with US authorities over the emissions-rigging scandal. The German car maker also said it would plead guilty to breaking certain US laws. VW said it was in advanced discussions with authorities. The agreement has yet to be approved by VW’s management and supervisory board. [BBC]

¶ Solar energy has been identified as a potential low-cost and highly efficient means of providing electricity to those in off-grid remote areas, but a study has concluded that with little…

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Bird species vanish from UK due to climate change and habitat loss

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR:  Human population growth, conversion of land to farms and cities, and rising temperatures are driving most species toward extinction. Naturalists are observing sinking populations around the world. As more populations reach zero, extinctions accelerate and will be roaring along by century end. They will not slow until only the most adaptable (weed) species remain. The progress of wildlife loss will eventually begin to cause human population decline. Whether or not our species escapes extinction in the centuries ahead, depends on rapid reversal of population growth and elimination of fossil fuel use. Such turns of events seem unlikely as the enormous wealth of the fossil-fuel companies and the owners of our industry and distribution systems have enthralled our leaders. So call or write your congressmen today. Let them know you will support them if they turn away from wealth and accept their responsibility to lead.

A family of willow…

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Alexei Yablokov, Russia’s environmental conscience, dies at 83

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A Bellona remembrance.

Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology who worked with Bellona to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic, has died in Moscow after a long illness. He was 83. Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology who worked with Bellona to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic, has died in Moscow after a long illness. He was 83. As a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he was also the lead author of the seminal 2007 book, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.” The book presented the conclusion that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was responsible for 985,000 premature deaths – the boldest mortality tally to date – by analyzing 6,000 source materials on the accident. Bellona President Frederic Hauge Tuesday remembered Yablokov as a friend of three decades standing. “He was an inspiration, a great friend and a great scientist, one of the world’s most significant environmental heroes,” said Hauge. “To know him and to work with him, someone of such cool and keen intellect is a memory we should all take care of and treasure.” Yablokov commanded a broad environmental and political mandate in Russia, and published over 500 papers on biology, ecology, natural conservation and numerous textbooks on each of these subjects. He founded Russia’s branch of Greenpeace and was the leader of the Green Russia faction of the Yabloko opposition party. While serving as environmental advisor to President Boris Yeltsin’s from 1989 to 1992, Yablokov published a searing white paper that detailed the gravity of the radiological threat posed by dumped military reactors and scuttled nuclear submarines in the Arctic. The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel. Yablokov’s white paper spearheaded an epoch of environmental openness that led to more than $3 billion in international aid to Russia to clean up 200 decommissioned submarines and to secure decades of military nuclear waste. The paper’s findings dovetailed an early Bellona report in 1992 on radioactive waste dumped by the Russian Navy in the Kara Sea. Hauge said that Yablokov was “the first person in a position of power in Russia who was brave enough to step forward and support our conclusions.” “He helped open serious discussion about what was a Chernobyl in slow motion,” said Hauge. The partnership became critical. In 1995, Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin was charged with treason for his contribution to a report expanding on Bellona’s conclusions about nuclear dangers in the Arctic. The report was called “The Russian Northern Fleet: Source of Radioactive Contamination.” Throughout the endless hearings leading up to Nikitin’s eventual acquittal, Hauge said Yablokov’s “calm, collected” knowledge of the Russian constitution helped guide the defense. “His coolness during the Nikitin case was remarkable,” said Hauge on Tuesday. “He really emphasized that the constitution was the way to Nikitin’s acquittal.” In 2000, Russia’s Supreme Court agreed, and acquitted Nikitin on all counts, making him the first person to ever fight a treason charge in Russia and win. Yablokov was a constant luminary at Bellona presentations in Russia, the European Union, the United States and Norway, most recently presenting his 2007 book in Oslo on the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. He was also a tireless defender of environmental activists in Russia, suggesting at a 2014 Bellona conference in St. Petersburg that ecological groups should publish a list of those government officials who harass them. “We must constantly support our comrades who have been forced to leave the country or who have ended up in jail on account of their environmental activism,” he told the conference. That same year, Yablokov championed the presentation of a report on environmental violations that took place at Russia’s showcase Winter Olympics in Sochi. Yablokov arranged for activists from the Environmental Watch on the Northern Caucasus – many of whom were jailed, exiled or otherwise harassed into silence – to present their shocking report on Olympic environmental corruption in Moscow when every other venue had turned them away. “He was a friend and advisor to us from the beginning and in a large part we owe the success of our Russian work to his steady advice and guidance,” said Hauge. Yablokov’s death was mourned across the spectrum in Moscow. Igor Chestin, head of the WWF called Yablokov Russia’s “environmental knight.” Valery Borschsev, Yablokov’s colleague in the human rights faction of the Yabloko party said of him that “he was a person on whom the authorities had no influence.” http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-01-alexei-yablokov-grandfather-of-russian-environmentalism-dies-at-83

“Since Fukushima, there has been a dearth of funds for research into the effects of the on-going radioactive releases worldwide and barriers to publishing papers that look for associated effects. Since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, we must thank those who observed, collected and published their findings. The original Chernobyl book was published in Russian; since then it has English and Japanese editions. In 2008, Alexey Yablokov brought me a copy of his Russian edition, which I cannot read, and said they needed an editor to put it into English, but did not have any money to pay the person. I have written two books and enjoy writing and editing, so said I would edit it, but I did not realize how long it would actually take: 14 months. The Chernobyl Catastrophe is a story of people – many of whom don’t know they are part of it. It includes essentially all who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the path of the radioactive fallout, but some people must be recognized for what they did under not only adverse environmental conditions, but also adverse political conditions. The senior author is Professor Yablokov, who holds two doctoral degrees – one in biology for marine mammals and a second in science for population biology – and is the author of more than 400 scientific publications and 22 books. From 1992 to 1997, he was chairman of the Interagency Committee for Ecological Security for the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, then president of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy and deputy chairman of the Council of Ecological Problems of the Russian Academy of Science and vice president of the International Union of Conservation of Nature, as well as a consultant to Russian presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The second author is Vassily Nesterenko, who at the time of the Chernobyl catastrophe was director of the Nuclear Energy Institute at the Belarus Academy of Science. He requisitioned a helicopter and flew over the burning reactor, recording some of the few measurements available.” http://sfbayview.com/2015/04/less-than-one-lifetime-eyewitness-to-nuclear-development-from-hunters-point-to-chernobyl-and-fukushima-issues-a-warning/#.VTLzW6cmwhQ.facebook

Lessons of Chernobyl, with Dr. Alexey Yablokov. http://optimalprediction.com/wp/lessons-of-chernobyl-with-dr-alexey-yablokov/

Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. PDF: http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov_Chernobyl_book.pdf

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | , , | Leave a comment

Are the EPA’s Emergency Radiation Limits a Cover for Fukushima Fumbles?

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The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2002, before the 2011 explosion. The EPA is poised to issue new radiation limits for a nuclear emergency set thousands of times higher than allowed by federal law.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to issue guidelines that would set radiation limits for drinking water during the “intermediate period” after the releases from a radioactive emergency, such as an accident at a nuclear power plant, have been brought under control. The emergency limits would allow the public to be exposed to radiation levels hundreds and even thousands of times higher than typically allowed by federal law.

Opponents say that under the proposed guidelines, concentration limits for several types of radionuclides would allow a lifetime permissible dose in a week or a month, or the equivalent of 250 chest x-rays a year, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a watchdog group that represents government employees.

The EPA has stressed that the proposal is aimed at guiding state and local leaders during a crisis and would not change existing federal radiation limits for the water we drink every day, which are much more stringent, and assume there may be decades of regular consumption. Critics of the new proposal say the emergency guidelines are a public relations ploy to play down the dangers of radiation and provide cover for an agency that fumbled during the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The emergency limits are even higher than those proposed by the EPA during the final days of the Bush administration, which withdrew the proposal after facing public scrutiny and left the Obama administration with the job of finalizing the guidelines.

Now, in the twilight of the Obama administration, the EPA’s “Protective Action Guidelines” for drinking water are once again drawing fire from nuclear watchdogs and public officials.

“The message here is that the American public should learn to love radiation, and that much higher levels than what are set by the statutory limits are OK,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a watchdog group that represents government employees.

PEER says that internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show the EPA’s radiation division hid proposed limits for dozens of radionuclides from the public — and even from other divisions within the agency that were critical of the plan — in order to “avoid confusion” until the final guidelines were released.

“It’s not like this has been done with a lot of openness,” Ruch said. “We had to sue them to find out what levels they would allow.”

EPA Caught With Its “Pants Down” During Fukushima

In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan suffered a meltdown after a deadly earthquake and tsunami and released massive amounts of dangerous radioactive contaminants into the ocean and atmosphere. Ruch said the EPA was caught with its “pants down” as this radiation was detected in air, rainwater and even milk in the United States. The EPA had been working since the early 1990s to develop guidelines on how the government should respond to such a disaster, but specific limits for radiation in drinking water are only now being set.

As Truthout reported at the time, the EPA told the public that radiation from the disaster would not reach the US at levels high enough to pose a public health concern, even as the agency’s own data showed concentrations of radionuclides in rain water far exceeding federal drinking water standards. As Japan struggled with a major nuclear crisis and the media debated the relative danger of radioactive plumes blowing about the world’s atmosphere, the EPA quietly stopped running extra tests for radiation less than two months after the disaster began.

By then, samples of cow’s milk, rain and drinking water from across the country tested positive for radiation from the Fukushima plant, and nuclear critics warned that it was difficult to tell whether there could be impacts on human health in the absence of enhanced radiation monitoring.

The EPA’s radiation division is now on the verge of approving a long-awaited update to its Protective Action Guidelines for responding to such a “large-scale emergency.” Ruch said employees from other divisions of the EPA were cut out of the decision-making process, and internal EPA documents indicate that the concentration limits were set higher than those detected during Fukushima to cover for the EPA’s embarrassing performance.

Ruch points to notes from a 2014 briefing at the EPA’s radiation division, which state that the agency “experienced major difficulty conveying its message to the public” that concentrations of radioactive material in rain water, although higher than federal Maximum Containment Levels (MCLs), “were not of immediate concern to public health” during the Fukushima crisis.

No Safe Dose of Radiation

The EPA’s new proposed guidelines are ostensibly meant to help public officials decide when to take protective actions to reduce exposure to radiation, such as asking the public to switch from tap water to bottled water. Most of the manual has already been finalized, except for the section on drinking water, which has been mired in controversy since the Bush administration.

In June, the EPA put the proposal up for public comment, but only made limits for four types of radionuclides publicly available. Critics say the agency still received 60,000 comments opposing the guidelines, including statements from 65 environmental groups. PEER sued the agency under the Freedom of Information Act in October, and the EPA released the proposed limits for dozens of other radionuclides just days before the Christmas holiday.

Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear watchdog group, attended a briefing with EPA officials on Thursday and told Truthout that the agency intends to finalize the guidelines despite ongoing protests.

“It’s really hard to believe,” Hirsch said.

Underlying the debate are MCLs for radioactive material in drinking water set by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Hirsch said that the nuclear industry has tried to “get out from under” these limits for years, but federal law prohibits them from being lowered. So, the industry and its allies at the EPA focused on the Protective Action Guidelines instead.

The MCLs are based on the idea that adults should not be exposed to more than 4 millirem (mrem) of radiation in drinking water each year for a 70-year period, for a total of 280 mrem in an average lifetime. Since the “intermediate phase” following a nuclear emergency is expected to be temporary, the emergency radionuclide limits are capped at amounts that would expose adults to a maximum 500 mrem dose of radiation over the course of a year.

Hirsch said that such as dose of radiation is equivalent to receiving a chest x-ray about five days a week for a year. The EPA arrived at these figures by “playing” with the numbers used to calculate radiation absorbed by human organs, which in turn increased the amount of certain radionuclides that can be present in drinking water by hundreds, thousands and even tens of thousands of times.

Hirsch said guidelines reflect the nuclear industry’s longstanding argument that MCLs are far too low, and the public should accept higher doses of radiation as permissible in an emergency.

The EPA claims there have been “advancements in scientific understanding of radiation dose and risk” since it began drawing up the Protective Action Guidelines back in 1992, and its emergency dose guidelines are based on the “latest science.” The guidelines are also designed to provide flexibility for decision-makers responding to a crisis.

Nuclear critics, however, argue that no dose of radiation is safe. Even small doses can cause cancer in small portions of a large population.

“The science has actually worked in the opposite direction over the years,” Hirsch said. “Science has concluded that radiation is much more dangerous than what was assumed in the ’70s.”

The guidelines are based on expected exposure over the course of one year, but both Ruch and Hirsch point out that radiation from nuclear calamity could persist for far longer — just look at the fallout from Fukushima, which Japan has struggled with for years. Radiation from the disaster is still being detected in fish on North America’s western coast. They argue that the public needs better protections in the event of an emergency, and the nuclear industry should not be let off the hook based on inflated safety limits.

“The whole thing appears to be [an attempt to] achieve a post-incident reaction of ‘don’t worry be happy,'” Ruch said.

When even small doses of radiation are understood to pose a health risk, however small, setting radiation limits for a nuclear emergency is bound to be controversial.

Unfortunately, this is the radioactive reality of living in the modern nuclear world.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39044-are-the-epa-s-emergency-radiation-limits-a-cover-for-fukushima-fumbles

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment