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Increasingly, cities are headed for 100% renewable energy

Guardian 27th Feb 2018  The number of cities reporting they are predominantly powered by clean energy has more than doubled since 2015, as momentum builds for cities around the world to switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

Data published on Tuesday by the not-for-profit environmental impact researcher CDP found that 101 of the more than 570 cities on its books sourced atleast 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, compared to
42 in 2015. Nicolette Bartlett, CDP’s director of climate change,
attributed the increase to both more cities reporting to CDP as well as a
global shift towards renewable energy. The data was a “comprehensive
picture of what cities are doing with regards to renewable energy,” she
told Guardian Cities. In Britain, 14 more cities and towns had signed up to
the UK100 local government network’s target of 100% clean energy by 2050,
bringing the total to 84.

Among the recent local authority recruits were Liverpool City Region, Barking and Dagenham, Bristol, Bury, Peterborough, Redcar and Cleveland.

But the CDP data showed 43 cities worldwide were already entirely powered by clean energy, with the vast majority (30) in Latin America, where more cities reported to CDP and hydropower is more widespread. The Icelandic capital Reyjkavik, sourcing all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, was among them. It is now working to make all
cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | renewable, World | Leave a comment

Climate change’s great threat to global health

Impact of climate change on health is ‘the major threat of 21st century’ Skeptical Science  [good graphs], 26 February 2018  This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Daisy Dunne

The health of millions of people across the world is already being significantly harmed by climate change, a major new report finds.

From driving up the number of people exposed to heatwaves to increasing the risk of infectious diseases, such as dengue fever, climate change has had far-reaching effects on many aspects of human health in last few decades, the authors say.

In fact, the effect of climate change on human health is now so severe that it should be considered “the major threat of the 21st century”, scientists said at a press briefing held in London.

The report is the first from the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, a project involving 24 academic institutions and intergovernmental organisations from across the world. The project plans to release a report tracking progress on climate change and global health every year.

Feeling the heat

The report uses a set of 40 indicators to track the effects of climate change on global health. The first of these indicators assesses the “direct impacts” of climate change on human health, including the effects of exposure to extreme heat and natural disasters.

One of the report’s findings is that, from 2000 to 2016, the rise in the average temperatures that humans were exposed to was around three times higher than the rise of average global temperatures worldwide….

he average temperatures that humans are exposed to are significantly higher than the global surface average because most people live on land, where warming happens most quickly, explains Prof Peter Cox, an author of the new report and a climate scientist at the University of Exeter. He tells Carbon Brief:

“Generally speaking, when you look at where people are, the rate of change appears much larger than when we look at global averages. So maybe when we think about global targets, we should be always bearing in mind that the global mean temperature doesn’t really mean much to most people. We don’t live on the ocean, which is two-thirds of the global mean. We live on the land, and on the land that tends to warm fastest.”

The report also finds the number of “vulnerable” people exposed to “heatwave” events increased by around 125 million between 2000 and 2016. “Vulnerable” is here defined as being over the age of 65, while a “heatwave” is defined as three consecutive nights where temperatures are in the top 1% of the 1986-2006 average for the region.

In 2015, a record 175 million more people were exposed to heatwaves, when compared to the average for 1986-2008, the report finds

These spikes in exposure are a result of an increase in heatwave events, as well as other environmental and social factors, including population growth, Cox says.

Heatwave exposure has previously been linked to an increased risk of premature death in many parts of the world, he explains:

“During the 2003 European heatwave, there were 75,000 extra premature deaths in Europe, including 2,000 in the UK. That was mainly because of people not being able to recover, and I guess breathing gets harder when it’s hot too. There is a correlation between these periods of hot nights and mortality. I suspect there must be a correlation with ill health as well.”

Natural disasters

The report finds that the number of weather-related disasters from 2007 to 2016 increased by 46%, when compared with the average for 1990-1999.

Asia is the continent most affected by weather-related disasters, the report says – particularly because of its size and population. Between 1990 and 2016, 2,843 weather-related disasters were recorded in Asia, affecting 4.8 billion people and causing more than 500,000 deaths……..

Losses to the global workforce

Another set of indicators explored by the report look at the “human-mediated” impacts of climate change. These are impacts that are intrinsically linked to human society, but often exacerbated by climate change.

The first of these indicators explores how climate change has affected the productivity of the global workforce, particularly in the less economically-developed parts of the world. The report finds that the global productivity in rural labour capacity – defined as those who work in outdoor manual labour in rural areas, but excluding agricultural workers – has fallen by 5.3% from 2000 to 2016……….

Infectious diseases

The report also investigates the “environment-mediated” impacts of climate change. These are impacts on human health that are caused by environmental factors but can be worsened by climate change.

One such impact is the spread of infectious diseases around the globe. Rising temperatures can increase the spread of infectious diseases by allowing pests to conquer new parts of the world, as well as by creating ideal conditions for reproduction and virus replication.

Climate change has affected the prevalence of many infectious diseases, the report notes. However, as an example, the report focuses on how climate change has impacted the spread of dengue fever, a disease spread by mosquitoes native to much of southeast Asia, central and south America, and Africa……….

February 27, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

North Pole could be headed for disappearance within a relatively short time

There could be just two years left before the North Pole disappears,, Charles Firth, DECEMBER 7, 2016

RIGHT now it’s an unprecedented 22 degrees hotter than normal in the Arctic, and in just two years the North Pole could be completely gone.

“…….Santa is a fantasy but climate change is not, and it’s started to do truly alarming things to the North Pole.

Over the past few weeks the temperature of the North Pole has been 22 degrees hotter than the average temperature for this time of year. That’s not a typo. It’s not 2.2 degrees hotter. It’s 22 degrees Celsius hotter.

The reason it’s such a huge difference is because even though night is now falling, the temperature around the poles is still getting hotter rather than colder. That’s never happened before. What it means is that the gap between average temperature and this year’s temperature is getting wider and wider by the day……..

In salt water, minus five degrees (which is the current air temperature in the North Pole) is too warm for ice to form. That means the planet’s natural airconditioner (and sun reflector) is not regrowing back this winter. Two of the ways the earth keeps itself cool have just broken down……..

The ice caps melt because it’s getting warmer and then because the ice caps have melted, the earth gets even warmer even faster.

Peter Wadhams, a professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University, now reckons that it could be as little as two years before ice disappears completely from the North Pole during the summer months………

In addition to the environmental implications, the cultural implications of this are also huge.

We will need to start changing the stories that we tell ourselves and our children about what our planet looks like. The idea that ice was once at the North Pole will become folklore, much like the fabled North-West passage through the Arctic, which as recently as a decade ago was considered treacherous and impassable, but has now become a common route for ships and tourist boats in the summer months.

This is why I’m seriously considering taking the kids out of school next July, and taking them up to the North Pole to see the ice. It’s probably the last chance to see it. Fantasies of the North Pole are such a vivid part of my own childhood. When was a kid, I always assumed I’d go there one day. Now I know my children will not.

If I do take my kids to see the North Pole and they live long lives, they’ll end be some of the last people on earth to be able to attest that there was indeed, ice at the top of our planet……..

February 27, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Jacinda Ardern’s ‘sexist, creepy’ 60 Minutes interview angers New Zealand

Guardian,  Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin 26 Feb 18 
Australian journalist Charles Wooley criticised for calling PM ‘attractive’ and discussing the conception of her baby. 

New Zealanders have criticised an interview with their prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, as “creepy” and “sexist”.

In the opening segment of the Australian current affairs show 60 Minutes , which aired on Sunday night, the veteran reporter Charles Wooley described the 37-year-old Ardern as “attractive”.–

“I’ve met a lot of prime ministers in my time,” says Wooley, filmed strolling the corridors of Parliament House with Ardern, the camera pulling in for a close-up on Ardern’s smiling face. “But none so young, not too many so smart, and never one so attractive.”

Wooley goes on to say that like the rest of New Zealand, he is “smitten” with their prime minister, with Channel Nine describing the interview in promos as a behind-the-scenes special with a world leader “like no other”, who is “young, honest and pregnant”.

“Admittedly, although somewhat smitten just like the rest of her country, I do know, that what’s really important in politics has to be what you leave behind,” Wooley says.

The interview was immediately met with derision from many New Zealanders on social media, who leapt to the defence of Ardern at having to endure the overly personal line of questioning, and dismissed Wooley as misogynistic and inappropriate. Other viewers said the interview was “repugnant”, “creepy” and “painful”.

“How did a nice person like you get into the sordid world of politics?” Wooley asked Ardern

“Nice people go into politics,” replied Ardern, smiling.

Wooley’s questions about her pregnancy appeared to make her and her partner, Clarke Gayford, rather uncomfortable.

“One really important political question that I want to ask you,” Wooley said. “And that is, what exactly is the date that the baby’s due?”

Ardern replied that her baby was due on 17 June, to which Wooley replied: “It’s interesting how many people have been counting back to the conception … as it were,” which made Gayford blush and laugh uncomfortably, responding: “Really?”

Wooley continued: “Having produced six children it doesn’t amaze me that people can have children; why shouldn’t a child be conceived during an election campaign?”

At this, Ardern appeared to roll her eyes, responding: “The election was done. Not that we need to get into those details.”

Wooley’s interviewing style obviously irked Gayford, who later alluded to the program when he tweeted about great places in New Zealand where you could “escape for 60 Minutes or longer”……..

In her weekly media standup Ardern said she did not find the interview offensive though she was initially taken aback by the question concerning the conception date of her child.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

YUCCA MOUNTAIN NRC sets meeting on licensing issues despite lack of funding

February 27, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear fission – the name of the game for space colonising – says nuclear enthusiast

Kilowatt nuclear reactor could play role in powering manned missions on Mars, Las Vegas Now  Patrick Walker  Feb 26, 2018  “…….As humans prepare to venture out farther into the final frontier, the name of the game is nuclear fission.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls for a global push to abolish nuclear weapons

U.N. Chief Calls for New Push to Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. News Feb. 26, 2018, BY TOM MILES GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Monday for a new global effort to get rid of nuclear weapons, drawing a cautious response from envoys of atomic-armed powers at odds for decades over nuclear disarmament.

Speaking to the Conference on Disarmament at the U.N. complex in Geneva, Guterres said many states still wrongly thought that nuclear weapons made the world safer.

“There is great and justified anxiety around the world about the threat of nuclear war,” he said.

“Countries persist in clinging to the fallacious idea that nuclear arms make the world safer … At the global level, we must work towards forging a new momentum on eliminating nuclear weapons.”

The Conference on Disarmament is the world’s main forum for nuclear disarmament, but since 1996 it has been deadlocked by disagreements and distrust between rival nuclear powers.

Ambassadors from the United States, China and France said they shared his concerns about the current security environment but their comments suggested it would be an uphill struggle to end two decades of stalemate in nuclear negotiations………..

DANGEROUS DIRECTION Guterres said talks should target not only nuclear, chemical and conventional arms but also autonomous and unmanned weapons, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and space-based systems.

There are currently around 150,000 nuclear weapons worldwide and the arms trade is flourishing more than at any time since the Cold war, with $1.5 trillion of spending annually, he said.

Taboos on nuclear tests and chemical weapons usage were under threat, he added, while talk of tactical nuclear weapons was leading in an extremely dangerous direction.

……..Last week diplomats and disarmament experts discussed Guterres’s initiative with U.N. officials during a retreat near New York, and he is expected to launch his plans around April or May with “practical and implementable actions”.

“The challenges are enormous, but history shows that it has been possible to reach agreement on disarmament and arms control even at the most difficult moments,” Guterres said.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Stephanie Nebehay/Mark Heinrich, William Maclean

February 27, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

France; EDF discovering many more “anomalies ” and “non-conformities” in nuclear reactors

Nuclear Transparency 23rd Feb 2018 [Machine Translation] Review of forgings at Le Creusot: EDF discovered
1,063 anomalies and 233 nonconformities on 23 reactors. Following the  discovery of numerous irregularities at Creusot Forge, now Framatome, EDF continues its review of the parts installed in its reactors.

A first report was published in September 2017 . A second assessment has just been posted. EdF makes a count of compliance discrepancies by distinguishing “non-conformities” that relate to an internal requirement to the
manufacturer of “anomalies” relating to the regulatory or customer’s external requirements.

Some anomalies are similar to falsifications, according to the ASN. There are now 1,063 anomalies and 233 nonconformities out of 23 reactors only. Others are expected.

Thursday Blog 24th Feb 2018, EDF has just revised upwards the number of defects affecting its reactors. The latest count of the company reports 1,063 ” anomalies ” (553 more than September 2017) and 233 ” non-conformities ” (103 more) on the equipment of  23 of its operating nuclear reactors. Added to this are 95 anomalies and 16 non-compliances on Flamanville EPR equipment revealed in September 2017.

These results are the result of EDF’s checks on all equipment manufacturing records from the plant. du Creusot (26732) and installed on its reactors. EDF released this second wave of results on Thursday 22 February.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities – doubtful about viability of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

BPU has doubts about nuclear power project, By Tris DeRoma, February 26, 2018 

February 27, 2018 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Australia’s extreme right wing Senator promises $445 billions to South Australia, if it takes in the world’s radioactive trash

Cory Bernardi says a nuclear power dump could make us the ‘Saudi Arabia of the south’ 26 Feb 18  CORY Bernardi is pushing to reignite a controversial development in South Australia, saying it could make the state the “Saudi Arabia of the south”.

LEADER of the Australian Conservatives party Cori Bernardi is pushing for a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, which he says will transform the state into the economic “Saudi Arabia of the south”.

Speaking at the party’s election launch in South Australia on Sunday, founder and federal Senator Cory Bernardi said he wanted to reopen the debate on an outback nuclear dump.

He called for changes to the law to allow for “all forms of energy production”, including nuclear power, urging authorities to “complete a full rigorous analysis” of the idea.

According to The Advertiser, he claimed the dump would generate up to $6.7 billion in gross state product, allow for $3 billion in annual taxes to be scrapped, and see the state reaping in $445 billion over the next century.

“Imagine that legacy for our children … to draw on in developing this state,” he said. “We would be an economic powerhouse. We would be the strongest state in the Commonwealth.”

Upper House candidate Robert Brokenshire said the party is “committed to looking at all types of energy production including nuclear energy to find the cheapest and most reliable form of energy”.

Labor Premier Jay Weatherill was quick to rule out the suggestion.

“That’s dead,” he said on Sunday. “Labor Party policy has been opposed to a nuclear waste facility in the past and there’s no prospect of changing that in the future.”

Mr Weatherill did not rule out pursuing a High Court case against the Turnbull government if a national nuclear waste dump was to be approved in South Australia, The Australian reported last month.

……..Earlier this month, the Australian Conservatives announced it will field 33 Lower House and two Upper House candidates at the state election on March 17.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

The US Navy’s newest stealth destroyer could get nuclear cruise missiles 

Business Insider Richard 26 Feb 19,  


February 27, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Preservation of intact forests is essential, in the battle to slow climate change

Study shows climate value of earth’s intact forests
Conservation efforts and the fight against climate change risk failure unless intact forests are preserved, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY EurekAlert, 26 Feb 18, NEW YORK 
 – New research published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution demonstrates the extraordinary value of Earth’s remaining intact forests for addressing climate change and protecting wildlife, critical watersheds, indigenous cultures, and human health. Yet the global policy and science communities do not differentiate among the relative values of different types of forest landscapes–which range from highly intact ones to those which are heavilylogged, fragmented, burnt, drained and/or over-hunted–due in part to the lack of a uniform way of measuring their quality.

With over 80 percent of forests already degraded by human and industrial activities, today’s findings underscore the immediate need for international policies to secure remaining intact forests–including establishing new protected areas, securing the land rights of indigenous peoples, regulating industry and hunting, and targeting restoration efforts and public finance. Absent specific strategies like these, current global targets addressing climate change, poverty, and biodiversity may fall short, including the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

“As vital carbon sinks and habitats for millions of people and imperilled wildlife, it is well known that forest protection is essential for any environmental solution–yet not all forests are equal,” said Professor James Watson of WCS and the University of Queensland. “Forest conservation must be prioritized based on their relative values–and Earth’s remaining intact forests are the crown jewels, ones that global climate and biodiversity policies must now emphasize.”

According to the study, the encroachment of human and industrial activity can have catastrophic effects. Once opened up, formerly intact forests become increasingly susceptible to natural pressures such as disease, fires, and erosion; they become less resilient to man-made climate change, and they become more accessible to human use, driving a spiral of decline.

Some key benefits of intact forests include:

  • Climate change: Intact forests currently absorb around 25 percent of carbon emissions from all human sources – damaging them will leave far more carbon dioxide in the air to warm the climate.
  • Water availability: Intact tropical forests ensure the stability of local and regional weather, generating more rain than cleared forests and thereby reducing the risk of drought.
  • Biodiversity: Intact forests have higher numbers of forest dependent species and have higher functional and genetic diversity.
  • Indigenous culture: Intact forests enable many indigenous groups to sustain their traditional cultures and livelihoods. In turn these peoples are often staunch defenders of their ancestral lands.
  • Human health: Forest degradation and loss compromise the supply of medically-beneficial species that millions of people rely on; additionally, forest degradation drives the spread of many infectious diseases by bringing humans and disease vectors into close contact………..

February 27, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Steam drainage pipes made by EDF and Fromatome (i.e. AREVA) not all safe

ASN 23rd Feb 2018 [Machine Translation] The ASN college questioned EDF and Framatome
(formerly Areva NP) about the deviations in the welding of the main steam
drainage pipes.

The first discrepancies were brought to the attention of
the ASN in early 2017. These pipes are affected by a so-called “rupture
exclusion” approach, which implies a strengthening of design, manufacturing
and service monitoring requirements. This reinforcement must be sufficient
to consider that the rupture of these pipes is extremely improbable.

It allows the operator not to fully study the consequences of a rupture of
these pipes in the safety demonstration of the installation. In order to
achieve the expected high quality of production, strengthened requirements
including mechanical properties were defined by the operator (EDF) and the
manufacturer (Framatome).

However, these reinforced requirements have not
been specified to the subcontractor in charge of producing the welds. The
controls carried out during manufacturing in the factory have shown that
they are not all compliant for certain welds. As a result of an ASN
inspection, this observation has been extended to other welds of these
pipelines made at the Flamanville site.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment