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Nuclear weapons treaty offers hope this Hiroshima Day

The Baltimore Sun ,Gwen L. DuBois, 5 Aug 17 

Hiroshima: Dropping The Bomb – Hiroshima – BBC


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This Hiroshima Day anniversary, 72 years after we dropped the first atomic bomb as a weapon of war, will be different.

Just ask Setsuko Thurlow, who was in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. She was also present at the United Nations a month ago when Costa Rica ambassador, Elayne Whyte, announced that the treaty to ban nuclear weapons had been adopted.

“I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” she said that day. “This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.”

Ms. Setsuko was 13 years old when she saw the flash of the bomb. Bodies were thrown up in the air around her. The wooden building she was in collapsed, and she could hear the cries from her classmates in the darkness. She managed to extricate herself and escape to the hills, witness to grotesquely injured people trying to move away from the city in silence for lack of physical and emotional strength — whispering only for water. She remembers her 4-year-old nephew, a “blackened, scorched chunk of flesh wailing in a faint voice until his death released him from agony.”

On July 7th, 2017, the day Ms. Setsuko spoke before the U.N., 122 non-nuclear nations endorsed the treaty that, when ratified, binds signatories never to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. Nations that have hosted these massively lethal bombs pledge not to station, install or deploy them. It establishes humanitarian and human rights for those that have been victims of nuclear weapons or weapons testing, including the right to live in an environment that has been remediated from the damage done by them. It notes that women and children are disproportionately harmed by radiation. The treaty is open for signatures through Sept. 20, and once 50 nations have signed and ratified, it becomes law 90 days later.

“These obligations (of this treaty) break new ground. The prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons, for example, sets up a fundamental challenge to all policies based on nuclear deterrence. From now on, deterrence advocates are on the wrong side of the law, as understood and accepted by the majority of countries in the world,” Zia Mian, a Princeton University professor, wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist……..

Because of this treaty, there is hope.

Soon nuclear weapons will not only be immoral but also illegal. Citizens of the world take notice.

Dr. Gwen L. DuBois ( is president of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility. She was also a citizen lobbyist in June at the United Nations Draft Conference to Ban Nuclear Weapons.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | history, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

George Monbiot Just Attacked a Key Solution to Climate Change — Why?


In 2015, the Electric Power Research Institute partnered with NRDC in producing a report assessing the ability of electrical vehicles to reduce global carbon emissions. Their findings were as profound as they were simple:

Electric vehicles and a clean grid are essential to arresting climate change

(Adding electrical vehicles to the energy and transportation mix considerably reduced global carbon emissions. In addition, the batteries on which the vehicles are based provide essential, low-cost means to store renewable based electricity coming from wind and solar power. Image source: NRDC.)

The findings also represented basic common sense.

The start of major atmospheric increases in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses began with the burning of fossil fuels. Rapid global warming subsequently followed. Human burning of wood, cow-based agriculture, and destruction of forests prior to that time may or may not have marginally increased atmospheric greenhouse gasses and tweaked global temperatures…

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August 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Levels of humid heat will kill millions, if warming is not tackled

“If given just one word to describe climate change, then ‘unfairness’ would be a good candidate. Raised levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are expected to cause deadly heatwaves for much of South Asia. Yet many of those living there will have contributed little to climate change.”

Climate change to cause humid heatwaves that will kill even healthy people

If warming is not tackled, levels of humid heat that can kill within hours will affect millions across south Asia within decades, analysis finds, Guardian, Damian  Carrington, 3 Aug 17,  Extreme heatwaves that kill even healthy people within hours will strike parts of the Indian subcontinent unless global carbon emissions are cut sharply and soon, according to new research.

Even outside of these hotspots, three-quarters of the 1.7bn population – particularly those farming in the Ganges and Indus valleys – will be exposed to a level of humid heat classed as posing “extreme danger” towards the end of the century.

The new analysis assesses the impact of climate change on the deadly combination of heat and humidity, measured as the “wet bulb” temperature (WBT). Once this reaches 35C, the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even fit people sitting in the shade will die within six hours.

The revelations show the most severe impacts of global warming may strike those nations, such as India, whose carbon emissions are still rising as they lift millions of people out of poverty.

“It presents a dilemma for India between the need to grow economically at a fast pace, consuming fossil fuels, and the need to avoid such potentially lethal impacts,” said Prof Elfatih Eltahir, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US who led the new study. “To India, global climate change is no longer abstract – it is about how to save potentially vulnerable populations.”

Heatwaves are already a major risk in South Asia, with a severe episode in 2015 leading to 3,500 deaths, and India recorded its hottest ever dayin 2016 when the temperature in the city of Phalodi, Rajasthan, hit 51C. Another new study this week linked the impact of climate change to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers.

Eltahir said poor farmers are most at risk from future humid heatwaves, but have contributed very little to the emissions that drive climate change. The eastern part of China, another populous region where emissions are rising, is also on track for extreme heatwaves and this risk is currently being examined by the scientists.

Their previous research, published in 2015, showed the Gulf in the Middle East, the heartland of the global oil industry, will also suffer heatwaves beyond the limit of human survival if climate change is unchecked, particularly Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran.

The new work, published in the journal Science Advances, used carefully selected computer climate models that accurately simulate the past climate of the South Asia to conduct a high resolution analysis of the region, down to 25km.

The scientists found that under a business-as-usual scenario, where carbon emissions are not curbed, 4% of the population would suffer unsurvivable six-hour heatwaves of 35C WBT at least once between 2071-2100. The affected cities include Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Patna in Bihar, each currently home to more than two million people.

Vast areas of South Asia – covering 75% of the area’s population – would endure at least one heatwave of 31C WBT. This is already above the level deemed by the US National Weather Service to represent “extreme danger”, with its warning stating: “If you don’t take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.”

However, if emissions are reduced roughly in line with the global Paris climate change agreement, there would be no 35C WBT heatwaves and the population affected by the 31C WBT events falls to 55%, compared to the 15% exposed today.

The analysis also showed that the dangerous 31C WBT level would be passed once every two years for 30% of the population – more than 500 million people – if climate change is unchecked, but for only 2% of the population if the Paris goals are met. “The problem is very alarming but the intensity of the heatwaves can be reduced considerably if global society takes action,” said Eltahir.

South Asia is particularly at risk from these extreme heatwaves because the annual monsoon brings hot and humid air on to the land. The widespread use of irrigation adds to the risk, because evaporation of the water increases humidity. The projected extremes are higher in the Gulf in the Middle East, but there they mostly occur over the gulf itself, rather than on land as in South Asia.

The limit of survivability, at 35C WBT, was almost reached in Bandar Mahshahr in Iran in July 2015, where 46C heat combined with 50% humidity. “This suggests the threshold may be breached sooner than projected,” said the researchers.

Prof Christoph Schär, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and who was not involved in the study, said: “This is a solid piece of work, which will likely shape our perception of future climate change. In my view, the results are of concern and alarming.”

The report demonstrates the urgency of measures to both cut emissions and help people cope better with such heatwaves, he said. There are uncertainties in the modelling – which Schär noted could underestimate or overestimate the impacts – as representing monsoon climates can be difficult and historical data is relatively scarce.

Prof Chris Huntingford, at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “If given just one word to describe climate change, then ‘unfairness’ would be a good candidate. Raised levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are expected to cause deadly heatwaves for much of South Asia. Yet many of those living there will have contributed little to climate change.”

August 4, 2017 Posted by | climate change, India | Leave a comment

What is USA’s policy on North Korea? Trump’s version, or State Scretary Tillerson’s version?

Who speaks for US on N. Korea? Contradictions emerge as Tillerson heads to Asia By Joshua Berlinger, CNN August 2, 2017 Hong Kong  US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heads to Asia later this week for a regional meeting on security issues, which is expected to be attended by ministers from North Korea, China, South Korea and Japan.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Workers in Southern USA States now facing climate change health hazards

In Sweltering South, Climate Change Is Now a Workplace Hazard  Workers laboring outdoors in southern states are wrestling with the personal and political consequences of a worsening environment, NYT, By YAMICHE ALCINDORAUG. 3, 2017, GALVESTON, Tex. — Adolfo Guerra, a landscaper in this port city on the Gulf of Mexico, remembers panicking as his co-worker vomited and convulsed after hours of mowing lawns in stifling heat. Other workers rushed to cover him with ice, and the man recovered.

But for Mr. Guerra, 24, who spends nine hours a day six days a week doing yard work, the episode was a reminder of the dangers that exist for outdoor workers as the planet warms.

“I think about the climate every day,” Mr. Guerra said, “because every day we work, and every day it feels like it’s getting hotter.”……

 to Robert D. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who some call the “father of environmental justice,” the industrial revival that Mr. Trump has promised could come with some serious downsides for an already warming planet. Professor Bullard is trying to bring that message to working-class Americans like Mr. Guerra, and to environmental organizations that have, in his mind, been more focused on struggling animals than poor humans, who have been disproportionately harmed by increasing temperatures, worsening storms and rising sea levels.

“For too long, a lot of the climate change and global warming arguments have been looking at melting ice and polar bears and not at the human suffering side of it,” Professor Bullard said. “They are still pushing out the polar bear as the icon for climate change. The icon should be a kid who is suffering from the negative impacts of climate change and increased air pollution, or a family where rising water is endangering their lives.”

The “environmental justice movement” has, in fact, caught on with major environmental groups, but it has far to go before it begins moving the dial in the nation’s politics. Professor Bullard envisions the recruits for his movement coming not only from the liberal college towns of the Northeast and Midwest, but also from the sweltering working-class communities in the Sun Belt, which he sees as the front line of the nation’s environmental wars.

Residents of working-class communities in the Sun Belt often cannot afford to move or evacuate during weather disasters. They may work outside, and they may struggle to cover their air-conditioning bills. Pollution in their communities leads to health problems that are compounded by the refusal of most Sun Belt state governments to expand Medicaid access under the Affordable Care Act……..

August 4, 2017 Posted by | climate change, employment, USA | Leave a comment

Effects of heat – and climate change – on air travel

The effects on aviation may be widespread. Many airports are built near sea level, putting them at risk of more frequent flooding as oceans rise. The frequency and intensity of air turbulence may increase in some regions due to strengthening high-altitude winds. Stronger winds would force airlines and pilots to modify flight lengths and routings, potentially increasing fuel consumption.
How hot weather – and climate change – affect airline flightsThe Conversation, Ethan Coffel, Ph.D. Student in Earth & Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, Radley Horton, Associate Research Scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, August 3, 2017 Hot weather has forced dozens of commercial flights to be canceled at airports in the Southwest this summer. This flight-disrupting heat is a warning sign. Climate change is projected to have far-reaching repercussions – including sea level rise inundating cities and shifting weather patterns causing long-term declines in agricultural yields. And there is evidence that it is beginning to affect the takeoff performance of commercial aircraft, with potential effects on airline costs.

National and global transportation systems and the economic activity they support have been optimized for the climate in which it all developed: Machines are designed to operate in common temperature ranges, logistical plans depend on historical weather patterns and coastal land development is based on known flood zones. In the aviation sector, airports and aircraft are designed for the weather conditions experienced historically. Because the climate is changing, even fundamental infrastructure elements like airports and key economic sectors like air transportation may need to be redesigned and reengineered.

As scientists focused on the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on human society and natural ecosystems around the world, our research has quantified how extreme heat associated with our warming climate may affect flights around the world. We’ve found that major airports from New York to Dubai to Bangkok will see more frequent takeoff weight restrictions in the coming decades due to increasingly common hot temperatures.

Climate changes flights

There is robust evidence that extreme events such as heat waves and coastal flooding are happening with greater frequency and intensity than just a few decades ago. And if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly in the next few decades, the frequency and intensity of these extremes is projected to increase dramatically.

The effects on aviation may be widespread. Many airports are built near sea level, putting them at risk of more frequent flooding as oceans rise. The frequency and intensity of air turbulence may increase in some regions due to strengthening high-altitude winds. Stronger winds would force airlines and pilots to modify flight lengths and routings, potentially increasing fuel consumption.

The July heat-related Phoenix flight cancellations happened at least in part because airlines’ operational manuals didn’t include information for temperatures above 118 degrees Fahrenheit – because that kind of heat is historically uncommon. It’s another example of how procedures may need to be updated to adapt to a warmer climate.

Flying in the heat

High air temperatures affect the physics of how aircraft fly, meaning aircraft takeoff performance can be impaired on hot days. …….

August 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Abandonment of America’s last nuclear project in South Carolina – what happens next?

This is what has to change after the SC nuclear meltdown  CINDI ROSS SCOPPE, Associate Editor, AUGUST 03, 2017 COLUMBIA, SC 

IF SCE&G AND Santee Cooper were free-market businesses, they’d probably be out of business in the wake of South Carolina’s nuclear meltdown. Or they’d have new management. Or they would have abandoned their nuclear reactors years ago — if they had ever started building them.

If SCE&G were even just a regular regulated monopoly — one that didn’t have the Legislature’s blessing to charge ratepayers $1.4 billion, and keep charging us even more, for electricity we will never receive — it probably would have walked away from the project much sooner. Or, like every other regulated monopoly in the nation without such legislative protection, never started it.

But state law reduced SCE&G’s risk and made it financially and psychologically easier for the company to pursue a high-risk plan to build the nation’s first new nuclear reactors in decades. And state law allowed Santee Cooper to join the venture without even the modicum of oversight that SCE&G had.

Santee Cooper is not regulated by the Public Service Commission, and its management answers to a politically appointed board whose members cannot be removed unless they break the law. Both conditions need to change. The governor should be able to remove his appointees for any or no reason, and the utility should be subject to the same regulation as privately owned utilities. And serious questions need to be asked about whether President Lonnie Carter deserves to be the highest-paid person in state government — or even remain employed.

What to do about the laws that govern SCE&G is less clear — and figuring that out needs to be the focus of legislators when they begin hearings later this month on how a $14 billion nuclear-construction project fell apart after both companies’ ratepayers sank more than $2 billion into it.

Was the whole concept of that law flawed? Are we guaranteeing irresponsible decision-making when we allow a regulated monopoly to charge customers up front for nuclear and coal-fired production facilities, and keep charging them even after the project is abandoned? Or would that mechanism, which is intended to reduce interest costs, make sense if the utility had to put more of its investors’ money at risk?

What about the Public Service Commission? Did commissioners have enough room to turn down any of the nine rate increases they approved for SCE&G? The law allows them to reject increases if there has been “a material and adverse deviation from the approved schedules, estimates, and projections” — which certainly happened here — but only if the utility was “imprudent” in failing to anticipate or avoid the changes.

If the commission didn’t have enough authority to reject rate increases, that needs changing. If there was enough authority but commissioners failed to use it, then perhaps it’s the commissioners who need changing.

Or did legislators — who elect commissioners to the well-paid political posts — make it too clear that they were not to reject rate increases? If so, we need to change how commissioners are selected. (Yes, legislators would need to change as well, but that’s up to voters.)

The Office of Regulatory Staff is supposed to conduct “on-going monitoring” of nuclear construction projects and “review and audit” rate requests, hiring outside experts as needed. Did it have the authority it needed to protect the public? If not, that needs changing. (The law that created that office, by the way, requires it to protect the “public interest,” which includes “preservation of the financial integrity of the state’s public utilities and continued investment in and maintenance of utility facilities.”)

If the office has sufficient authority, did it do its job but get overruled by the PSC? If not, then perhaps that staff needs changing, and perhaps the way it’s selected. The executive director is nominated by a legislative committee and technically appointed by the governor, sort of like magistrates.

What happens when SCE&G builds the new capacity that nuclear reactors will not provide? If it builds a natural gas plant, it won’t be allowed to charge ratepayers for construction unless or until the plant produces electricity. But should SCE&G ever be allowed to charge us for a facility that replaces an abandoned facility we’ve already paid $1.4 billion toward?

And what about the whole idea of monopolies? I doubt we’ve reached the point where small carbon-based or alternative-energy plants can provide everyone in the state access to electricity, which we’d need before we could switch to a free-market system. But a lot of people believe that time is coming. If lawmakers are going to spend a lot of mental energy on our state’s energy future, they ought to start thinking about how we get to that place, and what we do once we’re there.

Finally, a question legislators will avoid if we let them: Should a monopoly be allowed to make campaign donations to the legislators who have the power not only to revoke its monopoly status but also to shield it even more from the consequences of its decisions? And if so, how on earth do you justify that?

Ms. Scoppe writes editorials and columns for The State. Reach her at or (803) 771-8571 or follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook @CindiScoppe.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina legislators want refunds from scrapped nuclear power project

Legislators call for refunds from nuke project By Associated Press, August 3, 2017, COLUMBIA, S.C.  — South Carolina legislators want to bar SCE&G from continuing to collect money for a now-scuttled multibillion-dollar nuclear power project customers have been paying for since 2009.

A bipartisan group of legislators announced Wednesday the creation of an Energy Caucus that will work to overhaul how utility requests are reviewed.

South Carolina Electric & Gas and state-owned Santee Cooper decided Monday to abandon construction of two nuclear reactors. A project accounts for 18 percent of SCE&G’s residential electric bills. Utility executives said Tuesday none will get refunded. They are seeking permission from state regulators to recoup an additional $5 billion over 60 years.

Legislators created the system allowing that to happen in 2007.

But Energy Caucus members say the utility’s request should be rejected, and customers should be refunded.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA nuclear industry finished, as South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. and partner Santee Cooper abandon projects

Nuclear power as we know it is finished  Chris Tomlinson
August 3, 2017 Let it be written that environmentalists didn’t kill the nuclear power industry, economics did.

South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. and partner Santee Cooper abandoned work on two new nuclear reactors this week, not because of public protests, but because the only way to pay for them was to overcharge customers or bankrupt both companies.

The decision comes after the main contractor, Westinghouse, has completed a third of the work at the V.C. Sumner Nuclear Station. Of course, the project has already bankrupted Westinghouse due to missed deadlines and costs spiraling out of control. Westinghouse parent Toshiba Corp. had to pay $2.7 billion to get out of it’s contract.

 The project was supposed to cost only $5.1 billion, but to actually finish the work would have cost $11.4 billion. By abandoning work, the utilities said they will save about $7 billion in charges they would have had to pass on to customers.

That leaves only one new nuclear project under construction in Georgia, where Westinghouse has also gone over budget and missed deadlines.  Georgia Power says it has taken over construction of the two new reactors at the Vogtle plant through Southern Nuclear.

Georgia power officials are reviewing the timeline and estimating the cost for completing the two new reactors, which if finished would be the first in the U.S.  in 30 years. Costs, though, are not as important to Georgia Power because it sells power in a regulated market. Georgia Power started charging customers for the reactors as soon as construction began.

By comparison, Texas has a competitive market, where power plants only make money when they produce electricity. Customers here don’t finance new plants for mega-corporations the way they do in Georgia, and that saves Texans money.

Once Georgia Power completes it’s review of the Vogtle reactors, company leaders will likely have a hard time justifying the increased cost to regulators. Because even if the reactors were not over-budget already, the all-in cost of the power generated by that plant is far higher than alternative sources.

Natural gas and wind from Texas are far cheaper, and new natural gas pipelines and two proposed direct current transmission projects will easily deliver cheap power to South Carolina and Georgia well below the cost of the new reactors.

Even existing nuclear power plants have a hard time competing with cheap natural gas and renewable energy, which is why all of them are begging for subsidies or a carbon tax that will reward the plants for not producing carbon dioxide.

President Donald Trump has promised to boost nuclear power, but he has yet to roll out a plan. So far he has talked about doing away with the Clean Power Plan and has rejected a carbon tax, both of which are vital for nuclear power’s future.

What the nuclear industry really needs is new technology. Scientists are working on smaller reactors that are less dangerous, but none of them are ready for commercial deployment.

There could be a future for nuclear power in the United States, but only if the technology can compete on cost with renewable sources and natural gas. That is the real challenge for the nuclear power industry.

Nuclear energy leaders need to spend less time lobbying for government handouts for out-dated, expensive technology and focus on innovation. The coal  industry thought they could win through manipulating politicians, and we all know how that ended up.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Wildfires continue in Canada: more than 1 million acres burned so far

Wildfires in western Canada on near-record pace, More than 1 million acres burned so far   Staff Report Canada is on track for a near-record wildfire season this year. So far, there have been more than 500 fires just in British Columbia, burning across more than 1 million acres. Firefighting costs have already reached more than $172 million, and weeks of warm and dry weather will keep the fire danger high.

Most of the fires have been in three main areas, according to NASA, which has been tracking the burned areas via satellites. Most affected are the  Frasier Plateau  north of Vancouver, the Thomas Plateau, east of Whistler, and the region east of Kamloops.

All current fires of note can be viewed on this interactive map. According to NASA, this is the third-worst fire season on record for B.C.

Current weather forecasts project that winds will carry smoke from the fires toward the coast, perhaps persisting for a week. New research led by scientists with Georgia Tech recently showed that wildfire smoke is probably much more dangerous to human health than previously realized.

Naturally burning timber and brush from wildfires release dangerous particles into the air at a rate three times as high as levels known by the EPA. The study also found wildfires spew methanol, benzene, ozone and other noxious chemicals.

NASA’s Terra satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on July 31, 2017. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from the BC Wildfire Service, and the Georgia Tech study.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Al Gore on the desperate need to act on climate change—and fast.

Al Gore Says Climate’s Best Hope Lies in Cities and Solar Power, In an exclusive interview Gore also maintains that the Trump administration is relinquishing U.S. climate leadership to China and India, Scientific American ,By Annie Sneed on August 3, 2017 

In the early 2000s Al Gore emerged from a devastating presidential election defeat with a new quest: to warn the world about global warming. Although some may think his climate work peaked with his 2005 film, An Inconvenient Truth, he has taken his mission far beyond the silver screen. Over the past decade the former vice president has trained thousands of climate leaders who are now spreading awareness about global warming in communities around the planet. He has also worked with government leaders on switching energy economies from fossil fuels to renewables, and has traveled to places such as Greenland and India to witness firsthand the damaging effects of our carbon-addicted world. Now Gore is back in theaters on August 4 with An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power to convince the public we desperately need to act on climate change—and fast.

Scientific American spoke with Gore about his ongoing inspiration to tackle climate change and what actions he sees as the biggest hope for our warming world…….

……Al Gore: ….the solutions are here now. A decade ago they were visible on the horizon, but we had to rely on technology experts to reassure us they were coming. Now the stunning cost reductions for solar electricity, wind electricity, batteries, electric vehicles and hundreds of impressive efficiency improvements are all dramatically improving our ability to reduce emissions and become far more efficient.

We are now in the early stages of a global sustainability revolution, which has the magnitude of the industrial revolution and the speed of the digital revolution. Global emissions have stabilized in the last three years, giving hope that emissions will start reducing significantly very soon, as they have already done in the U.S., Europe and China…….

Both India and China are closing hundreds of coal-burning plants and rapidly expanding their solar and wind facilities. We’re seeing the beginnings of a radical transformation of the world’s energy system, particularly in developing countries.

The political system here in the U.S. is still slow to respond—but the reaction to Trump here in the U.S. is also impressive and encouraging. After Trump’s announcement on Paris, governors, mayors and business leaders stepped up to fill the gap. I have been encouraged at how many cities have announced the goal of 100 percent renewable energy. In the movie the mayor of a very conservative Republican city in Texas has already achieved that goal. Atlanta and Pittsburgh have just announced that they’re going 100 percent renewable. If Atlanta and Pittsburgh can do it, any city can do it.

It has to be noted that even with all of the commitments in Paris put together, it’s still not enough.

many contracts are being signed for electricity from solar energy at less than half the price of electricity from fossil fuels, even on an unsubsidized basis.

So I’m encouraged—but it is a race against time.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Global ocean circulation appears to be slowing due to global warming Nace Aug 3, 2017 Global ocean circulation appears to be slowing

Scientists have long known about the anomalous “warming hole” in the North Atlantic Ocean, an area immune to warming of Earth’s oceans. This cool zone in the North Atlantic Ocean appears to be associated with a slowdown in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), one of the key drivers in global ocean circulation.

A recent study published in Nature outlines research by a team of Yale University and University of Southhampton scientists. The team found evidence that Arctic ice loss is potentially negatively impacting the planet’s largest ocean circulation system. While scientists do have some analogs as to how this may impact the world, we will be largely in uncharted territory.

AMOC is one of the largest current systems in the Atlantic Ocean and the world. Generally speaking, it transports warm and salty water northward from the tropics to South and East of Greenland. This warm water cools to ambient water temperature then sinks as it is saltier and thus denser than the relatively more fresh surrounding water. The dense mass of water sinks to the base of the North Atlantic Ocean and is pushed south along the abyss of the Atlantic Ocean.

This process whereby water is transported into the Northern Atlantic Ocean acts to distribute ocean water globally. What’s more important, and the basis for concern of many scientists is this mechanism is one of the most efficient ways Earth transports heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The warm water transported from the tropics to the North Atlantic releases heat to the atmosphere, playing a key role in warming of western Europe. You likely have heard of one of the more popular components of the AMOC, the Gulf Stream which brings warm tropical water to the western coasts of Europe.

Evidence is growing that the comparatively cold zone within the Northern Atlantic could be due to a slowdown of this global ocean water circulation. Hence, a slowdown in the planet’s ability to transfer heat from the tropics to the northern latitudes. The cold zone could be due to melting of ice in the Arctic and Greenland. This would cause a cold fresh water cap over the North Atlantic, inhibiting sinking of salty tropical waters. This would in effect slow down the global circulation and hinder the transport of warm tropical waters north.


Measured trend in temperature variations from 1900 to 2012.

Melting of the Arctic sea ice has rapidly increased in the recent decades. Satellite image records indicate that September Arctic sea ice is 30% less today than it was in 1979. This trend of increased sea ice melting during summer months does not appear to be slowing. Hence, indications are that we will see a continued weakening of the global ocean circulation system.

This scenario of a collapse in AMOC and global ocean circulation is the premise for the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” As a disclaimer, the plot line in which much of New England and Western Europe gets plunged into an ice age is significantly over exaggerated and unrealistic on human time scales.

While geologists have studied events in the past similar to what appears to be happening today, scientists are largely unsure of what lies ahead.

Trevor Naceis a geologist, Forbes contributor, founder of Science Trends, and adventurer.Follow his journey@trevornace

August 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Blundering into war would be the worst option

How to avoid nuclear war with North Korea. There are no good options to curb Kim Jong Un. But blundering into war would be the worst  The Economist Aug 5th 2017
 IT IS odd that North Korea causes so much trouble. It is not exactly a superpower. Its economy is only a fiftieth as big as that of its democratic capitalist cousin, South Korea. Americans spend twice its total GDP on their pets. Yet Kim Jong Un’s backward little dictatorship has grabbed the attention of the whole world, and even of America’s president, with its nuclear brinkmanship. On July 28th it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit Los Angeles. Before long, it will be able to mount nuclear warheads on such missiles, as it already can on missiles aimed at South Korea and Japan. In charge of this terrifying arsenal is a man who was brought up as a demigod and cares nothing for human life—witness the innocents beaten to death with hammers in his gigantic gulag. Last week his foreign ministry vowed that if the regime’s “supreme dignity” is threatened, it will “pre-emptively annihilate” the countries that threaten it, with all means “including the nuclear ones”. Only a fool could fail to be alarmed.

What another Korean war might look like

Yet the most serious danger is not that one side will suddenly try to devastate the other. It is that both sides will miscalculate, and that a spiral of escalation will lead to a catastrophe that no one wants. Our briefing this week lays out, step by step, one way that America and North Korea might blunder into a nuclear war (see article). It also lists some of the likely consequences. These include: for North Korea, the destruction of its regime and the death of hundreds of thousands of people. For South Korea, the destruction of Seoul, a city of 10m within easy range of 1,000 of the North’s conventional artillery pieces. For America, the possibility of a nuclear attack on one of its garrisons in East Asia, or even on an American city. And don’t forget the danger of an armed confrontation between America and China, the North’s neighbour and grudging ally. It seems distasteful to mention the economic effects of another Korean war, but they would of course be awful, too.

President Donald Trump has vowed to stop North Korea from perfecting a nuclear warhead that could threaten the American mainland, tweeting that “it won’t happen!” Some pundits suggest shooting down future test missiles on the launchpad or, improbably, in the air. Others suggest using force to overthrow the regime or pre-emptive strikes to destroy Mr Kim’s nuclear arsenal before he has a chance to use it.

Yet it is just this sort of military action that risks a ruinous escalation. Mr Kim’s bombs and missile-launchers are scattered and well hidden. America’s armed forces, for all their might, cannot reliably neutralise the North Korean nuclear threat before Mr Kim has a chance to retaliate. The task would be difficult even if the Pentagon had good intelligence about North Korea; it does not. The only justification for a pre-emptive strike would be to prevent an imminent nuclear attack on America or one of its allies……….

If military action is reckless and diplomacy insufficient, the only remaining option is to deter and contain Mr Kim. Mr Trump should make clear—in a scripted speech, not a tweet or via his secretary of state—that America is not about to start a war, nuclear or conventional. However, he should reaffirm that a nuclear attack by North Korea on America or one of its allies will immediately be matched………

To contain Mr Kim, America and its allies should apply pressure that cannot be misconstrued as a declaration of war……..

Everyone stay calm.    All the options for dealing with the North are bad. Although America should not recognise it as a legitimate nuclear power, it must base its policy on the reality that it is already an illegitimate one…..

August 4, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Future of China’s nuclear export industry in doubt

China’s nuclear export ambitions run into friction   by: Matthew Cottee , 3 Aug 17,China is using infrastructure exports to build strategic relationships with a range of countries in Asia, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. As part of its One Belt One Road (OBOR) policy, Beijing has pledged more money than went into the postwar Marshall plan on high-speed rail schemes around the world in an effort to secure diplomatic allies and develop new markets. The economic and diplomatic impact of its massive investment, however, remains questionable.

By providing technology, Beijing seeks to develop alliances with key states in a variety of regions. It aims to provide long-term contracts to construct, operate, maintain, provide fuel, train staff, and develop infrastructure while establishing links to high-level government representatives. But will nuclear exports prove any more influential and successful than high-speed rail?
The combined cost of cancelled rail projects equates to roughly a third of the estimated $143bn in total planned investment for projects involving Chinese contractors. As the FT highlights, some of the cancellations are the result of factors beyond China’s control, such as civil war in Libya. Other cases have been caused by a lack of transparency on the part of Chinese companies, the inability of recipients to manage large amounts of debt, and alternative models of government that delay decision making. Factors beyond Beijing’s control may also influence the success of its nuclear export strategy. Global interest in nuclear energy is experiencing a lull, prompting valid questions about China’s decision to invest in such technology as a long-term export market. Environmental consciousness is one reason for reducing reliance on nuclear energy. Political decisions in South Korea and France — two key proponents of nuclear energy — highlight this evolving trend. In Seoul, President Moon Jae-in has decided to phase out domestic electricity production from nuclear power plants. Nicolas Hulot, France’s minister of ecological and social transition, has also mooted efforts to cut the share of nuclear in its energy mix to 50 per cent by 2025, as required by a 2015 law.
The significant costs of nuclear energy mirror the issues highlighted by rail projects. Many existing nuclear projects are dependent on Chinese financing; China’s Exim Bank is bankrolling 82 per cent of the cost of Pakistan’s new reactors and is thought to be contributing to the construction of reactors in Romania alongside the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. In November 2015, China National Nuclear Corporation invested $4.7bn in Argentina’s Nucleoelectrica. In the UK, China is to provide 33 per cent of the estimated £20bn for the Hinkley Point C project. In exchange, Beijing has been promised the opportunity to build its indigenously developed nuclear technology in Essex. The open question is whether such investment will eventually pay off. The current leader in the nuclear export market, Russia’s Rosatom, is reportedly shifting focus to hydropower and wind turbines rather than its usual reactor business. Speaking at the ‘Technoprom-2017’ conference in Novosibirsk, the deputy general director of Rosatom, Vyacheslav Pershukov, suggested that the export market for nuclear reactors has been exhausted.
The various setbacks to traditional nuclear energy providers, namely Areva, Toshiba and Westinghouse, suggest that market competition is dwindling. South Korea’s proposed diversification away from nuclear will also have significant ramifications for its nuclear export industry, given the key role government support plays in getting contracts agreed. Time will tell whether these developments represent an opportunity or a forewarning for China’s grand nuclear ambitions. Beijing is committed to sustained development of nuclear energy domestically but will hope that the nuclear vision remains bright in the untapped international markets with which it has signed exploratory agreements. As long-time proponents of nuclear are questioning its future role, and seasoned nuclear exporters are seeking to diversify, however, China’s nuclear efforts could be destined to go down the same track as its high-speed rail strategy. Dr Matthew Cottee is research associate, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China | Leave a comment

SCE and G customers will continue paying for nuke project, even though it won’t be built

BY SAMMY FRETWELL,, AUGUST 02,2017COLUMBIA, SC  Even though SCE&G won’t finish a multi-billion dollar nuclear expansion project in Fairfield County, customers will continue paying about one-fifth of their monthly power bills for the work.

Rates that customers now are charged for the project already are in the company’s rate base and “will remain so moving forward,’’ SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower said in an email Wednesday night.

The company has hit customers with nine power bill increases to finance the project in less than a decade.

SCE&G abandoned the nuclear project this week, but under a 2007 state law, can continue charging customers for the work unless the state Public Service Commission says otherwise.

Collectively, SCE&G and partner Santee Cooper have spent about $9 billion for the reactor project. As an investor owned-utility, SCE&G will seek to recover its share of the amount it has already spent, which was about $5 billion.

 Customers of SCE&G have paid about $1.4 billion as a result of company rate increases to fund the two new reactors at the V.C. Summer plant northwest of Columbia. They’re paying, on average, about 18 percent of their monthly power bills for the nuclear work.

Officials with the state Office of Regulatory Staff said they don’t expect the state Public Service Commission to change any rates this year for the SCE&G project in Jenkinsville……

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment