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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The week that has been: nuclear and climate news to 19 August

Things would appear to have calmed down in the North Korea nuclear situation, with some positive signs. Unfortunately the USA does not grasp China’s point of view.-In order to defy Trump, Kim Jong-un will probably target waters near Guam. -USA defence chiefs insist that a military action is an option. Most Americans are anxious about President Trump’s ability to handle the situation.

Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute argues that endless growth, not just climate change, is the world’s biggest problem, and that  technology will not save us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALugeRQbXAM

CLIMATE.Climate change’s effects. You can’t pinpoint events as definitely caused by global warming. Environmental disasters have always happened. With climate change, they are happening more often, and more severely.  This week, killer landslides in  Sierra Leone,  in Northeast Congo, in Northern India. -Climate change is drowning the Solomon Islands.

NUCLEAR–   Pledge for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.   China’s more rational response to the North Korean situation.

Iodine-129 waste used to track ocean currents for 15,000 km after discharge from nuclear plants.

Cancer and other health problems still being caused because of past nuclear explosions.  Linear accelerators – a much safer way to obtain medical isotopes, than from nuclear reactors.

ASIA. Another big nuclear problem in Asia – accumulation of plutonium.

ANTARCTICA. Beneath Antarctica’s ice, 91 previously unknown volcanoes have been found. Stability of East Antarctic ice sheet, even if western ice sheet melts (bit of good news, for a change)

CANADA. Area Burned in Severe Northwest Territory Wildfires Doubles in Just One Day.

JAPAN.  Japan’s massive accumulation of nuclear weapons-usable plutonium.

Fukushima. Report: 257 Tons of Corium and 180 Million Curies of Deadly Heavy Metal Poison and Radiation Released From Fukushima. -High-priced Fukushima ice wall nears completion, but effectiveness doubtful.

USA. USA brain drain, as climate scientists take up the invitation from France.  California Scientists Push to Create Massive Climate Research Program. – Trump uses executive order to reverse Obama-era order aimed at planning for climate change.  Increase in harmful algal blooms in U.S. freshwaters due to climate change.

Americans are disturbingly unbothered by the idea of striking first with nuclear weaponsThe weapons industry is polluting America’s environment – Potomac River as an example. USA power utilities have a long history of abandoning nuclear projects – Florida ratepayers could be up for $millions for two nuclear reactors that may never be built. South Carolina nuclear power backers push for tax-payer aid. Risky venture for Utah counties? will they gamble on speculative thorium nuclear venture? Pennsylvania to give out potassium tablets to communities near nuclear power stations.

SOUTH AFRICA. In South Africa, nuclear and coal lobbies wage a (losing) war against renewables.

IRAN. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calls on European Union to actively support Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear treaty. If USA imposes new sanctions, Iran could abandon the nuclear agreement.

RUSSIA. First load of nuclear waste from Andreeva Bay, Norway,  arrives in Mayak.

FRANCE.French nuclear regulator ASN makes EDF review all nuclear components made by Areva’s foundry Creusot Forge.

UK. BBC gives platform for climate sceptic Nigel Lawson to spout anti science. Global temperatures really have risen- climate denialist Nigel Lawson admits.  Energy sector impacted by Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

INDIA. India’s Adani mining giant accused of corruption just as it seeks funds from the Australian government for coal mine.

 

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August 19, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Greenland’s melting ice will affect us all

Greenland: how rapid climate change on world’s largest island will affect us alhttps://theconversation.com/greenland-how-rapid-climate-change-on-worlds-largest-island-will-affect-us-all-82675   Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University August 18, 2017 The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but also because it is yet another signpost of deep environmental change in the Arctic.
Greenland is an important cog in the global climate system. The ice sheet which covers 80% of the island reflects so much of the sun’s energy back into space that it moderates temperatures through what is known as the “albedo effect”. And since it occupies a strategic position in the North Atlantic, its meltwater tempers ocean circulation patterns.
But Greenland is especially vulnerable to climate change, as Arctic air temperatures are currently rising at twice the global average rate. Environmental conditions are frequently setting new records: “the warmest”, “the wettest”, “the driest”.

Despite its size, the fire itself represents only a snapshot of Greenland’s fire history. It alone cannot tell us about wider Arctic climate change.

But when we superimpose these extraordinary events onto longer-term environmental records, we can see important trends emerging.

The ice sheet is melting

Between 2002 and 2016 the ice sheet lost mass at a rate of around 269 gigatonnes per year. One gigatonne is one billion tonnes. One tonne is about the weight of a walrus. During the same period, the ice sheet also showed some unusual short-term behaviour. The 2012 melt season was especially intense – 97% of the ice sheet experienced surface melt at some point during the year. Snow even melted at its summit, the highest point in the centre of the island where the ice is piled up more than 3km above sea level.

In April 2016 Greenland saw abnormally high temperatures and its earliest ever “melt event” (a day in which more than 10% of the ice sheet has at least 1mm of surface melt). Early melting doesn’t usher in a period of complete and catastrophic change – the ice won’t vanish overnight. But it does illustrate how profoundly and rapidly the ice sheet can respond to rising temperatures.

Permafrost is thawing

Despite its icy image, the margins of Greenland are actually quite boggy, complete with swarms of mosquitoes. This is the “active layer”, made up of peaty soil and sediment up to two metres thick, which temporarily thaws during the summer. The underlying permafrost, which can reach depths of 100m, remains permanently frozen.

In Greenland, like much of the Arctic, rising temperatures are thawing the permafrost. This means the active layer is growing by up to 1.5cm per year. This trend is expected to continue, seeing as under current IPCC predictions, Arctic air temperatures will rise by between 2.0°C and 7.5°Cthis century.

Arctic permafrost contains more than 1,500 billion tonnes of dead plants and animals (around 1,500 billion walrus equivalent) which we call “organic matter”. Right now, this stuff has been frozen for thousands of years. But when the permafrost thaws this organic matter will decay, releasing carbon and methane (another greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.

If thawing continues, it’s estimated that by 2100 permafrost will emit 850-1,400 billion tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (for comparison: total global emissions in 2012 was 54 billion tonnes of CO₂ equivalent). All that extra methane and carbon of course has the potential to enhance global warming even further.

With this in mind, it is clear to see why the recent wildfire, which was burning in dried-out peat in the active layer, was especially interesting to researchers. If Greenland’s permafrost becomes increasingly degraded and dry, there is the potential for even bigger wildfires which would release vast stores of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Species are adapting to a changing ecosystem

Major changes in the physical environment are already affecting the species that call Greenland home.  Just look at polar bears, the face of Arctic climate change. Unlike other bears, polar bears spend most of their time at sea, which explains their Latin name Ursus maritimus. In particular they rely on sea ice as it gives them a deep-water platform from which to hunt seals.

However, since 1979 the extent of sea ice has decreased by around 7.4% per decade due to climate warming, and bears have had to adjust their habitat use. With continued temperature rise and sea ice disappearance, it’s predicted that populations will decline by up to 30% in the next few decades, taking the total number of polar bears to under 9,000.

I have considered only a handful of the major environmental shifts in Greenland over the past few decades, but the effects of increasing temperatures are being felt in all parts of the earth system. Sometimes these are manifest as extreme events, at others as slow and insidious changes.

The different parts of the environmental jigsaw interact, so that changes in one part (sea ice decline, say) influence another (polar bear populations). We need to keep a close eye on the system as a whole if we are to make reliable interpretations – and meaningful plans for the future.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | 3 Comments

Trump administration still considering a military attack on North Korea

President Trump’s Top Defense and Diplomatic Chiefs Insist There’s a Military Option for North Korea, Time,  Matthew Pennington / AP, Aug 17, 2017   (WASHINGTON) — America’s diplomatic and defense chiefs sought Thursday to reinforce the threat of possible U.S. military action against North Korea after President Donald Trump’s top strategist essentially called the commander-in-chief’s warnings a bluff.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed after security talks with close ally Japan that the U.S. seeks a peaceful solution to the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But he said a U.S.-led campaign of economic pressure and diplomacy needs to be backed by potential military consequences.

 Washington is “prepared militarily” to respond, if necessary, he said…..

North Korea’s missile launches “must stop immediately,” Tillerson said. Given the magnitude of the threat posed by the North’s weapons development, he said any diplomatic effort “has to be backed by a strong military consequence if North Korea chooses wrongly.”

“That is the message the president has wanted to send to the leadership of North Korea,” Tillerson said, “to remind the regime of what the consequences for them would be if they chose to carry out those threats.”

Trump last week pledged to answer North Korean aggression with “fire and fury.” He later tweeted that a military solution was “locked and loaded,” after leader Kim Jong Un was said to be considering a provocative launch of missiles into waters near Guam…..

Tensions have since eased somewhat since North Korea said Kim doesn’t immediately plan to fire the missiles. But fears of conflict remain as the U.S. and South Korea next week begin military drills that the North views as preparation for invasion, and as Washington seeks to stop the North’s progress toward having a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the continental United States……http://time.com/4905989/donald-trump-steve-bannon-rex-tillerson-north-korea/

August 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Is Trump aware of that other imminent nuclear war danger – the standoff between India and China ?

The potential conflict between nuclear powers that Trump barely acknowledges, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/08/18/the-potential-conflict-between-nuclear-powers-that-trump-barely-acknowledges/?utm_term=.bdf29c5159e7   August 18The two most populous countries in the world are dangerously close to armed conflict. Both are fast-growing and ambitious nations with something to prove — and they have nuclear weapons. Yet you’ll find surprisingly little discussion of the issue in Washington, where President Trump’s ongoing controversies and the threat of terrorist attacks (more on the horrific attack in Barcelona later in the newsletter) continue to dominate the discussion.The military standoff between India and China over a remote plateau in the Himalayas has been going on for months now. This week, The Post’s Annie Gowen and Simon Denyer took a look at the complicated dispute, which was sparked by China’s move to build a road in territory claimed by Bhutan, a close ally of India that does not have formal diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Territorial disputes between in the area are far from new — India and China briefly went to war over contest territory in 1962. And much of the present dispute dates back to an 1890 border agreement made between British India and China’s Qing Dynasty, one of a number of lingering problems caused by colonial cartographers.

But experts say the current standoff is the worst in decades and has taken on a different tone than previous flare-ups. “It would be very complacent to rule out escalation,” Shashank Joshi, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute in London, told The Post. “It’s the most serious crisis in India-China relations for 30 years.”

Both India and China are speaking openly and seriously of armed conflict, with Beijing’s state media striking a indigent and at times uncharacteristically vulgar tone. An English-language video posted by the Xinhua news agency Wednesday accused India of “trampling international law” and “inventing various excuses to whitewash its illegal moves” — before showing a Chinese actor in a Sikh turban who spoke in an insulting Indian accent.

If India and China were to go to war, it would be no small matter. Over 2.6 billion people live in the two nations. Between them, they are estimated to have 380 nuclear weapons (though both China and India subscribe to a “no first use” policy, which should — hopefully — mean they wouldn’t be used in such any conflict).

In a briefing last month, the U.S. State Department urged restraint. During a press briefing last week, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “It’s a situation that we have certainly followed closely. And as you know, we have relationships with both governments. We continue to encourage both parties to sit down and have conversations about that.”

The dispute centers not only on the territory in question — an obscure, 34-square-mile area known as the Dolam Plateau that is claimed by both Bhutan and China — but a narrow strip of strategically important Indian land called the Siliguri Corridor. This tract, unaffectionately nicknamed the “chicken’s neck,” connects the bulk of the India with its remote east. Delhi has long feared Chinese troops could cut across the corridor if war broke out, effectively cutting the country in half. It’s not an unreasonable fear, given that the region is just 14 miles wide at its thinnest point; Ankit Panda of the Diplomat once dubbed it a “terrifyingly vulnerable artery in India’s geography.”

It is widely assumed that Washington would side with India in the dispute. Trump is a frequent critic of China, and some in his administration have pushed for tough responses to other territorial claims made by Beijing, such as the ongoing disputes in the South China Sea. Trump called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s Independence Day this week, which some media outlets interpreted as a gesture of support for New Delhi.

And yet, there is a nagging sense among some in India that Trump won’t have Modi’s back if push comes to shove. “If ever there was a war with China, America would never come to our rescue,” one government official told Indian journalist Barkha Dutt recently, according to a story Dutt wrote for The Post’s Global Opinion section.

Washington also may be diplomatically limited in the region: A number of key State Department positions that would have responsibility for handling an India-China crisis remain unfilled. Another part of the problem is simply the complexity of the issue, which could prove hard to communicate to a leader with seemingly limited knowledge of the world and a notoriously short attention span.

There is also an argument that perhaps Trump should keep his nose out of this. The Post’s Jackson Diehl wrote he didn’t find much enthusiasm for U.S. involvement in the dispute while in Delhi last week. The U.S. president has gained a reputation there for being hotheaded and impulsive — even the drawdown in tensions with North Korea seems to have happened in spite of his involvement, not because of it.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | China, India, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change and the world’s hottest city – Kuwait City

Kuwait’s inferno: how will the world’s hottest city survive climate change?
Malls and office complexes continue to spring up in Kuwait City, built by migrants often working illegally in soaring temperatures. But as oil and water reserves dwindle, the energy-guzzling citystate heads for an existential crisis,
Guardian, Ruth Michaelson.18 Aug 2017,

It is 9am and the temperature in Kuwait City is 45C and rising, but already people working outside. A row of litter-pickers are already hard at work along a coastal highway, their entire bodies covered to protect them from the sun. Outside one of the city’s many malls, valets hover beside the air-conditioned entrance, while two men in white hats huddle wearily next to their ice cream stands.

Other city residents are luckier. They can avoid the outdoors altogether, escaping the inferno by sheltering in malls, cars and office buildings, where temperatures are kept polar-cold.

For years, Kuwait’s climate has been steadily heating up. In the summer months, the Gulf state now frequently touches 50C, and was last year awarded the grim prize of being the hottest place on earth, when temperatures reached a staggering high of 54C.

But while the capital is making plans to prepare for climate change and the rising heat, there are growing concerns for those residents who cannot afford to shelter inside, and mounting questions about how such an energy-intensive city can survive as resources such as water and oil dwindle.

Nearly 70% of Kuwait’s population is made up of migrant workers, many of whom power the near-constant construction of new office complexes and malls across the state. Though labour legislation now bans work outdoors between 12pm and 4pm, many are seen toiling through the hottest hours of the day regardless………

The conditions for those men and women forced to work outside are set to worsen: between 2010 and 2035, Kuwait’s annual average temperature will increase by 1.6% to 28.7C , according to the country’s Environmental Public Authority (EPA), making for increasingly sweltering summer temperatures and more of the dust storms that already plague Kuwait City and beyond.

“Yes, we’re under pressure,” says Shareef al-Khayat, head of the climate change division at the EPA. “Not just from rising temperatures, but sea level rises – the demand for electricity and water will also be harder in the future.”……..

Adapting to rising temperatures will require a radical shift in thinking in Kuwait, especially concerning the most vulnerable. “We can’t manage the way these companies work,” says the construction manager, referring to the contractors who incentivise labourers to work outside in punishing conditions. “Of course, when I see labourers working after midday in this heat, it’s horrible. But what can we do? It’s their rules.” https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/aug/18/kuwait-city-hottest-place-earth-climate-change-gulf-oil-temperatures

August 19, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Protestors against nuclear dumping injured in police attack in northeast France

French Police Attack Protest Against Nuclear Waste Site http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/French-Police-Attack-Protest-Against-Nuclear-Waste-Site-20170816-0012.html 16 August 2017 Protest organizers said 36 people were injured, with six gravely hurt.

Police in northeast France used water cannons and fired tear gas and stun grenades Tuesday against demonstrators protesting plans to store nuclear waste at an underground site.

The issue has been raging for years as the waste is the dangerous long-term by-product of France’s extensive nuclear energy program.

Around 300 protesters took part in the demonstration in Bure, a commune in the Meuse department, against plans to store highly radioactive waste 500 meters underground.

Protest organizers said 36 people were injured, with six gravely hurt in the clashes, while the local prefecture said at least three demonstrators had been injured, according to calls to emergency services.

The protest was one in a series to try to block the waste site. France’s Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot has said he needs more information before he gave his position on the project.

Earlier this month, the Nuclear Safety Authority said it had “reservations” about the project, known as Cigeo, citing uncertainty about the potential danger from highly inflammable material in the case of rising temperatures.

In July, the National Agency for the Management of Radioactive Waste said construction of the storage site would start in 2022 at the earliest.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, incidents, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

A bomb found near the Hinkley C nuclear project – for the SECOND time

Second World War bomb found off coast of Hinkley Point http://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/somerset-news/second-world-war-bomb-found-335854    Watchet Coastguard shared a notice on their Twitter account telling people to stay clear of the cordon, BY RUTH OVENS 16 AUG 2017, 

A 250 pound bomb has been found off the coast of Hinkley Point.

Mariners are being advised to avoid the area of the bomb which is thought to date back to the Second World War.

 Watchet Coastguard shared a notice on their Twitter account telling people to stay clear of the cordon.

Hinkley Point C Harbour Authority have shared the following notice:

“Mariners are advised that a 250 pound bomb thought to date from Second World War has been discovered in position Latitude 51’13.43’ North, Longitude 003’09.22 West. This position is approximately six cables south-east from Gore Bouy. “Vessels within this area are requested to proceed with caution, maintain minimum safe distance of 500 metres and keep continued watch on VHF channel 16.”

Earlier this month, the Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team destroyed a piece of ordnance that was found in the sea off the West Somerset coastline. A 1km exclusion zone was put in place after the large piece of ordnance was found 2.5nm off Lilstock Range in the Bristol Channel on August 8.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | incidents, UK | 1 Comment

China calls for stopping U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises

China calls for end to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/08/17/China-calls-for-end-to-US-South-Korea-joint-military-exercises/3911502966370/ By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Aug. 17, 2017 Aug. 17 (UPI) China again called for the “dual suspension” of North Korea‘s nuclear weapons program and U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises on Thursday.

Beijing’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the statement before reporters at a regular press briefing, following reports Washington and Seoul are planning to begin drills on the Korean peninsula on Aug. 21, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

“Many countries including the United States have expressed their desire to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue peacefully through diplomatic means,” Hua said. “The most feasible and reasonable way to do this in the tense and complex situation at present is a dual suspension” on both sides.

The Chinese spokeswoman added although “the recent situation on the Korean peninsula is showing signs of easing tensions, it is still highly complex and fragile.”

“North Korea, the United States, and other parties directly concerned with the nuclear issue should do more,” Hua said. “The essence of the Korean peninsula issue can be found in the security problem, and the door to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue can really be opened when the concerns of each country are resolved in a balanced way. The most pressing issue now is to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, and end the vicious cycle of increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula.”

Hua also said if the United States has a better plan that “involves the peaceful resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue and the restoration of peaceful dialogue, China will support it with a positive and open attitude.”

Hua added she welcomed an earlier suggestion from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to dial down the rhetoric and “dial up diplomacy.”

“This is the same as China’s solution to the North Korea nuclear issue,” Hua said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in previously defended the joint exercises as legitimate drills of a defensive nature, while condemning North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations as illegal.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment

Americans uneasy about Trump’s ability to handle the North Koreasn situation

Americans are afraid of war with North Korea — and of how Trump could handle it,  New polls show Americans are divided on how to handle the North Korea threat , Vox,  by  Aug 11, 2017,

 “…….New polls show a majority of Americans are afraid the US is about to wade into a war with North Korea, but are split on whether America should take military action in the face of increased threats from Pyongyang. At the same time, some of the public’s anxiety is about Trump and his off the cuff handling of the situation. Trump’s approval rating has dipped to historic lows, and Republicans and Democrats disagree sharply on whether they think the president is capable of dealing with North Korea…..

 in the past month, North Korea has successfully completed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that could reach the mainland United States, and American intelligence officials say the country is nearing its goal of being able to fit a nuclear weapon on one of those long-range missiles.

And Trump hasn’t exactly been doing a lot to quell those fears. On Tuesday, Trump appeared to threaten nuclear war, vowing to respond to North Korean threats with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Two days later, the president doubled down, saying of his remarks, “maybe it wasn’t tough enough.” He followed that up with a Friday tweet that the US military solutions were “locked and loaded should North Korea act unwisely.”

As a result, the possibility of war is on a lot of people’s minds.

A new poll from Public Policy Polling released by Axios on Friday morning shows 82 percent of Americans say they are afraid of nuclear war with North Korea. Another poll released by Rasmussen Report on Friday showed 63 percent of voters polled believe the US is now likely to take nuclear action against Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, the CBS poll conducted last week revealed 72 percent of Americans were already feeling uneasy about a possible conflict, while another 26 percent said they were confident things would be resolved.

However, the majority of those polled (60 percent), were optimistic the threat from North Korea could still be contained, with another 29 percent saying they believed it required immediate military action……

Another poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs earlier this month found something similar, with a slim majority of respondents saying they supported military intervention if North Korea attacked South Korea.

The Chicago Council poll is the first time that more than half of Americans voiced support for sending in troops to help South Korea in the event of an attack. However, the same poll found Americans were still reticent to get involved in an armed conflict with North Korea and more likely to support increased sanctions instead.

Amidst the escalation, Americans still don’t have a lot of confidence in their commander in chief.

Just 35 percent of respondents to the CBS poll said they were confident in Trump’s ability to handle the North Korea threat, while 61 percent said they were uneasy. Confidence in Trump’s ability fell largely along party lines, with 76 percent of Republicans saying they were confident, and 31 percent of independents and just 10 percent of Democrats agreeing with them.

Many more people said they were uneasy about Trump, including 87 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, and 22 percent of Republicans……https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/11/16131016/americans-afraid-war-north-korea

August 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The reasons for the global inaction on climate change

Curbing climate change: Why it’s so hard to act in time, The Conversation   Timothy H. Dixon
Professor, Geology and Geophysics, Natural and human-caused hazards, sea level rise and climate change, University of South Florida,  August 18, 2017
 This summer I worked on the Greenland ice sheet, part of a scientific experiment to study surface melting and its contribution to Greenland’s accelerating ice losses. By virtue of its size, elevation and currently frozen state, Greenland has the potential to cause large and rapid increases to sea level as it melts.

When I returned, a nonscientist friend asked me what the research showed about future sea level rise. He was disappointed that I couldn’t say anything definite, since it will take several years to analyze the data. This kind of time lag is common in science, but it can make communicating the issues difficult. That’s especially true for climate change, where decades of data collection may be required to see trends.

A recent draft report on climate change by federal scientists exploits data captured over many decades to assess recent changes, and warns of a dire future if we don’t change our ways. Yet few countries are aggressively reducing their emissions in a way scientists say are needed to avoid the dangers of climate change.

While this lack of progress dismays people, it’s actually understandable. Human beings have evolved to focus on immediate threats. We have a tough time dealing with risks that have time lags of decades or even centuries. As a geoscientist, I’m used to thinking on much longer time scales, but I recognize that most people are not. I see several kinds of time lags associated with climate change debates. It’s important to understand these time lags and how they interact if we hope to make progress.

Agreeing on the goal

Changing the basic energy underpinnings of our industrial economy will not be easy or cheap, and will require broad public support……

Designing cleaner technologies

It will also take time for technological developments to support our transition to a low-carbon energy future. Here, at least, there is reason for optimism. A few decades ago renewable energy sources such as wind and solar seemed unlikely to replace a significant fraction of carbon-based energy. Similarly, electric vehicles seemed unlikely to meet a significant share of our transportation needs. Today both are realistic alternatives……

Funding the transition

Once we finally decide to make a low-carbon transition and figure out how to do it, it will cost trillions of dollars. Capital markets can’t provide that sort of funding instantaneously……

The natural carbon cycle

Our ability to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere greatly exceeds nature’s ability to remove it. There is a time lag between carbon emission and carbon removal. The process is complicated, with multiple pathways, some of which operate over centuries…….. most of the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere today will continue to heat the world for hundreds to thousands of years.

Today the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is just over 400 parts per million, rising by about 3 ppm yearly. Given the political, technological and economic time lags that we face, it’s likely that we will hit at least 450-500 ppm before we can seriously curtail our carbon emissions. The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much carbon dioxide was several million years ago, during the Pliocene era. Global temperatures were much higher than 2°C above today’s average, and global sea level was at least 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) higher.

We haven’t seen comparable temperature or sea level increases so far because of time lags in Earth’s climate response. It takes a while for our elevated carbon dioxide levels to trigger impacts on this scale. Given the various time lags that are in play, it is quite possible that we have already exceeded the 2°C rise over preindustrial temperatures – a threshold most scientists say we should avoid – but it hasn’t shown up on the thermometer yet.

We may not be able to predict exactly how much future temperatures or sea levels will rise, but we do know that unless we curb our carbon emissions, our planet will be a very uncomfortable place for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Large-scale social changes take time: they are the sum of many individual changes, in both attitudes and behaviors. To minimize that time lag, we need to start acting now.   https://theconversation.com/curbing-climate-change-why-its-so-hard-to-act-in-time-80117

August 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Their town is headed for drowning – but they still doubt that climate change is real

Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don’t buy the science
The small Louisiana town of Cameron could be the first in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels – and yet locals, 90% of whom voted for Trump, still aren’t convinced about climate change, Guardian, 
Shannon Sims in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, 18 Aug 17,  In 50 years, the region near where I grew up, Cameron Parish in south-west Louisiana, will likely be no more. Or rather, it will exist, but it may be underwater, according to the newly published calculations of the Louisianagovernment. Coastal land loss is on the upswing, and with each hurricane that sweeps over the region, the timeline is picking up speed.

As a result, Cameron, the principal town in this 6,800-person parish (as counties are called in Louisiana), could be the first town in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels and flooding. So it’s here one would expect to feel the greatest sense of alarm over climate change and its consequences.

Instead, Cameron has earned a different kind of fame: it’s the county that, percentage-wise, voted more in favor of Trump than any other county in the US in last year’s election. Nearly 90% of the population did.

Why would some of the people most vulnerable to climate change vote for a politician skeptical of climate change’s existence? Why would people in Cameron Parish support policies that could ruin them?……..

…..”Because of the rules and regulations, it costs so much to live here.”

Many locals in Cameron repeat this phrase – “rules and regulations”. They’re referring to the strict construction rules placed on residents who wanted to return to Cameron and rebuild after Rita and Ike hit the town. As a result, all structures needed to be raised in order to qualify for hurricane insurance. The result is a humble town whose homes appear strangely grandiose: single-story modest brick houses now rest on top of large, grassy man-made hills, a kind of south Louisianacastle…….

As for her politics, Smith thinks Cameron’s residents voted for Trump because “we think he could help the oil field out, and hopefully stop the imported seafood from coming into our country so our people can make a living,” she says.

Smith, like most of the residents of Cameron, has been highly dependent on state and federal assistance programs to recover after the storms. But what if, in Trump’s push to shrink the size of the government, recovery programs are cut?

“We’d be screwed,” she says frankly. “But that doesn’t change my opinion about Trump,” she quickly adds. “Outsiders think that everybody is just looking for a handout down here, but there is hard-working people that live here. There are just not many jobs right now, especially if all you know is commercial fishing. Even if Trump cuts those programs that helped us, we gonna make it one way or another here, with or without help. Down here we survive.”…….

Vail says he’s pleased with the drawdown on environmental restrictions that Trump has instituted since taking office.

“When he took office he stopped the EPA’s Waters of the US rule, where anything that would flow into a navigable tributary would have had jurisdiction under the EPA. Well, navigable tributaries go through half the land I farm. So you’re saying a ditch I put in my field to drain the water off, then that the land comes under your jurisdiction? You can tell me when I can go into it, and what I can use as fertilizer?”………

Mr Benny’s son lets me know that their alligator hunting business has brought in a high-end clientele. He brings out a photo of a grinning Donald Trump Jr taken during an alligator hunting trip. That personal connection has helped inform Mr Benny’s politics. “I’m Donald Trump all the way,” he says with a smile.

Even though Mr Benny’s family has been directly impacted by hurricanes, and even though the state mapping agency indicates that his home will be submerged within 50 years due to coastal land loss, Mr Benny isn’t buying it.

“I don’t believe it,” he says, shaking his head. “I don’t believe that the tide is gonna rise 10 feet and that the Ice Age is coming and stuff like that.” Like many of the residents here in Cameron, Mr Benny sees time on a longer horizon than others might. “I been here 75 years, you understand?,” he reminds me with gentle force. “And I’ve lived on the water and guess what? The tides still come up almost the same way, and there is no flooding. And today our front marshes aren’t underwater.”

“If you go by what the real scientists say, there’s no proof. In the last 10 years the average temperature of the world hasn’t even risen a half degree………

Theriot seems caught between her job as a science educator and her life as a longtime Cameron resident, tasked with teaching about the environment in a fiercely red town. “…….“But I think the data is incomplete. And I am still not sure about climate change. I am still researching it. I feel like I don’t have enough good sources to say yes or no on if climate change is a real thing.”

Now, from her elevated balcony overlooking the old slabs, she takes a clearer position. “I’m a big proponent of the oil industry, because that’s how my family and my community made a lot of its money. So that is my livelihood. So it is hard for me to point that finger.”….

….Dyson is not particularly concerned about the forecasts that show the coast disappearing over the coming decades. He thinks global warming is a gossipy scam……. Instead, Dyson says that what worries him most are the environmental regulations ostensibly intended to save the coast. “The laws are already there to protect the coast. And I understand Trump is not 100% environmentalist. But I think it’s a good thing to get the government out of our lives. I don’t want any more environmental regulations. I don’t want any more fishing laws. And I don’t want a lot of restrictions where people can’t make a living.”….. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/18/louisiana-climate-change-skeptics-donald-trump-support

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Killer avalanches

Hundreds of people are dead after the Sierra Leone landslide. Here’s how it happened. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/08/15/hundreds-of-people-are-dead-after-the-sierra-leone-landslide-heres-how-it-happened/

 August 15

DR Congo landslide kills scores in northeast  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/dr-congo-landslide-kills-dozens-northeast-170817100001637.html

 

Landslide in northern India leaves 46 dead  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/landslide-north-india-leaves-46-dead-170814050147858.html

August 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

U.S. Navy respons to challenge of climate change

How the U.S. Navy is Responding to Climate Change, Harvard Business Review AUGUST 18, 2017 FOREST REINHARDT AND MICHAEL TOFFEL, Harvard Business School professors, talk about how a giant, global enterprise that operates and owns assets at sea level is fighting climate change—and adapting to it. They discuss what the private sector can learn from the U.S. Navy’s scientific and sober view of the world. Reinhardt and Toffel are the authors of “MANAGING CLIMATE CHANGE: LESSONS FROM THE U.S. NAVY” in the July–August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. “……The U.S. Navy is raising its bases, using early storm warning systems, and increasingly powering its missions with the sun, instead of fossil fuels……

FOREST REINHARDT: ………. the Navy is our primary waterborne military force. And as the planet warms, the amount of water is going to increase. That is, the area near the poles, which until quite recently has been closed to marine traffic for much if not all of the year, is going to be increasingly open as the ice melts. You think the last time the Western world really encountered a new ocean was in the early part of the 1500s, and the same kinds of opportunities and conflicts are going to exist in the Arctic.

 A second reason is that climate change is potentially destabilizing to societies, especially societies which are not particularly rich and not particularly well governed. And as those societies become increasingly stressed by things like drought and storm severity, the kinds of behaviors that call the military into action are going to become more frequent, whether those are wars or internal conflicts or just need for humanitarian assistance.

MICHAEL TOFFEL: And this is why the military refers to climate change as a threat multiplier. Many have made the connection between the breakdown of societies in the Middle East, in particular in Syria, for example, to be attributed to changing rainwater and other precipitation patterns. So you see these problems right now behind the growth of ISIS. You see these problems also with the migration into Europe and Europe’s struggle with what to do with these migrants. These are examples of issues that climate scientists suggest are only going to get worse in the coming decades..…..

….The Navy also is investing in massive amounts of solar to power their bases. But it’s not motivated so much by those effects that I just mentioned the private sector is trying to claim. It’s really about, in their case, about mission readiness and the resilience of their bases. They want to be sure that as climate change occurs with more intensive storms that that’s not going to knock out the power grids that supply their bases. So they’re investing in some of these power sources because of their distributed nature—the fact that they can produce power on site and not have to rely on long distance ge

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

How a Harley-riding ex-ally of villains is leading a nuke revolt in Japan

àlllmmLawyer Hiroyuki Kawai posing with his Harley-Davidson Trike motorcycle inside a garage in Tokyo, on July 25, 2017.

 

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – In the basement of a three-storey house in a leafy neighbourhood in Tokyo, about 40 lawyers crowded together, plotting against Japan’s massive nuclear power industry.

The host was 73-year-old Hiroyuki Kawai, one of Japan’s most colourful litigators. The end game? To close all of the country’s 42 reactors for good, a result that would be a major blow to the future of atomic energy across the world.

For the staunch anti-nuclear activist, the risk of a meltdown outweighs the benefits of the relatively clean source of power.

Countries from Germany to Taiwan have scaled back plans for nuclear power after Japanese utility Tepco’s 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

Mr Kawai is propelling the anti-nuclear movement forward with a 22 trillion yen (S$274 billion) shareholder lawsuit against the company, among the largest in damages ever sought. He wants to pressure the government and businesses to distance themselves from atomic power, and while his court cases have yielded mixed results, his bold tactics are garnering attention around the world.

“If we push them enough, one day they will crumble,” Mr Kawai said at an interview. “It’s a revolution.”

Mr Kawai stands out in a 300-strong anti-nuclear lawyer consortium, in both spirit and appearance.

On the day of the interview, Me Kawai is wearing a bright candy-pink suit-jacket, a black shirt, and a crystal encrusted snake brooch on his lapel. The father of three daughters and seven grandchildren rides his Harley-Davidson motorbike across the country on weekends, and hosts bimonthly meetings of lawyers at his residence to discuss strategies to shutter reactors.

“A number of countries and societies are influenced by trends in Japan,” said Professor Hitoshi Yoshioka at the graduate school of social and cultural studies at Kyushu University. “If he’s successful, the impact on the world will be great.”

While Mr Kawai now spends about 80 per cent of his time in legal battles against power providers and the government without pay, he started his career pursuing much more lucrative cases.

In the late 70s, he was an adviser to a witness linked to one of the country’s biggest financial scandals, propelling him into the spotlight. By his account, he was a winner, and made “a ton of money” along the way. Yet the cases in which he was involved were less than savoury and he began to question whether this was satisfying enough.

“I did so many bad things,” Mr Kawai said, recalling how in the 90s he turned his back on the corrupt businessmen and money-hungry upstarts he called clients. “I helped a lot of villains.”

In 1994, he began taking on anti-nuclear cases. He says the reason for his reincarnation is simple: He wanted to use the legal system to do good for society, and believed the growing use of atomic power was the biggest risk facing Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

For years, Mr Kawai lost. Anti-nuclear activists were seen as environmentalists that agitated Japan’s quest to become energy independent and cheaply power a sputtering economy. After embracing atomic energy in the 1960s, the number of reactors grew to 54 by 2009, and at its peak, nuclear provided about one-third of Japan’s power consumption.

“Fighting nuclear means turning all of Japan’s society against you,” Mr Kawai said. “It’s like being surrounded by enemies. It’s a very hard fight.”

Japan needs nuclear power to achieve energy security, economic growth and environmental conservation while placing top priority on safety, said Hiroyuki Honda, a spokesman for the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the industry group consisting of top utility Tokyo Electric Power Holdings and nine other regional firms.

Japan should have diversified electricity generation sources, including nuclear power, while balancing energy security, economic growth and environmental conservation, said Tepco spokesman Jun Oshima.

Reactors are being allowed to restart after meeting stricter safety standards, and Japan cannot abandon nuclear power because of earthquakes, said a trade ministry official, who asked not to be identified because of internal policy.

Relying heavily on thermal power would lead to more carbon dioxide emissions and reliance on fossil fuel imports, he said. While the nation plans to boost renewable energy as much as possible, its growth has limits and needs to be supplemented by atomic and thermal power, according to the official.

Mr Kawai is currently directly involved in 24 atomic-related cases. The rest of his time is spent on corporate lawsuits which provide the funds to cover his anti-nuclear work, including directing a few documentary films.

Public perception has turned in favour of his ideals with 55 per cent of the population against nuclear restarts versus 26 per cent that are for, according to a Mainichi newspaper poll in March.

Mr Kawai’s legal attacks are counter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s post-Fukushima energy policy, which seeks to see nuclear power account for as much as 22 per cent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, an independent supervisory body set up by the government after Fukushima, has said 12 reactors are safe to restart after extensive checks, though just five of Japan’s 42 operable reactors have been allowed back online so far.

One of Mr Kawai’s biggest cases is a shareholder suit against Tepco. He argues the power provider did not take enough safety measures to prevent Fukushima. The amount of damages sought – currently 22 trillion yen – is the direct sum of the estimated costs to clean up the Fukushima disaster, he said.

He has had three favourable decisions since Fukushima, one of which has been overturned by a higher court, while most of the cases are still pending, he said.

“Nothing is an easy win,” Mr Kawai said. “But it’s not just about winning – it’s about changing society. There’s a good reason to keep fighting.”

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/how-a-harley-riding-ex-ally-of-villains-is-leading-a-nuke-revolt-in-japan

 

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Highly radioactive water leak at Fukushima No. 1 nuke plant

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Highly radioactive water has leaked from the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Aug. 17.
The estimated 50 milliliters of contaminated water remained inside the station dike, and there was no leakage to the outer environment, plant operator TEPCO said. An analysis found that the tainted water contained 22 million becquerels per liter of beta-ray-emitting radioactive materials.
According to the utility, a worker from a company cooperating with TEPCO spotted water dripping from multi-nuclide removal equipment at the facility at around 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 16. After the worker mended the part with tape, the leakage stopped.

 

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment