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Much hype, little substance in the so-called “historic” nuclear summit

A summit without substance ttps:// Max Bootm June 12, The Singapore summit was a mesmerizing spectacle utterly lacking in substance. In other words, it was a perfect microcosm of the Trump presidency.

The entire world was riveted by television images of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shaking hands in front of a backdrop of North Korean and U.S. flags, walking to and from lunch, checking out Trump’s limousine and finally signing a summit declaration. For both leaders, the hype was the whole point.

Kim won an invaluable propaganda windfall: Ruling one of the poorest and most despotic countries in the world (North Korea’s gross domestic product is smaller than Vermont’s), he was recognized as an equal by the leader of the world’s sole superpower — not just an equal, indeed, but a valued friend. Trump claimed to have established a “special bond” with Kim just a day after one of his aides said there was a “special place in hell” reserved for the prime minister of Canada. (The aide, Peter Navarro, has now admitted his comment was “inappropriate.”)

Trump can barely stand to be in the same room with the leaders of the United States’ democratic allies, but he reveled in his quality time with Kim – “a very talented” and “very smart” man who “loves his country very much” and who, in turn is loved by his own people. If Kim does indeed love his country, he has a funny way of showing it, since he enslaves his own citizens. If you want to learn more about Kim’s atrocities, all you have to do is reread Trump’s own Jan. 30 State of the Union address, which gave chapter and verse on the “depraved character of the North Korean regime.”

There was, however, no mention of North Korean human rights abuses on Tuesday. That would have been a downer for a president who has plenty of other downers to deal with — from a special counsel investigation to a botched Group of Seven summit. Trump was in full salesman mode in Singapore, touting a meeting that he claimed had gone “better than anybody could have expected.”

I guess it all depends on what your expectations were. If you took Trump seriously when he claimed on April 22 that Kim had “agreed to denuclearization (so great for World),” then you are bound to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, your expectation was that North Korea would string Trump along with meaningless verbiage, then the summit was precisely what you expected. The meeting really should have been held in Oakland, not Singapore, because there is no therethere. Trump and Kim agreed to four points. The first was empty blather about the United States and North Korea desiring “peace and prosperity.” The second was more empty blather about building a “lasting and stable peace regime.” The fourth was a microscopically small commitment to the repatriation of the remains of Korean War POW/MIAs. The key point was No. 3 — “Reaffirming the April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] commits to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” — and on closer examination it, too, is empty blather. I can commit “to work towards” beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon, but that doesn’t mean that I will ever reach the goal.

The Singapore Declaration repeats virtually verbatim the pledge that North Korea made not only on April 27 but also on numerous other occasions stretching all the way back to 1992. That’s right — North Korea has been promising to denuclearize for 26 years, and in that time it has not only acquired an estimated 60 nuclear weapons but also the ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Perhaps this time will be different and Kim really, truly means it. If so, we will find out soon enough, because he will agree to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” disarmament that the Trump administration had initially insisted upon. But there was no mention of those words in the Singapore Declaration, just as there was no mention of human rights. Trump assailed the Iran nuclear deal as the “worst deal ever.” The deal he struck with North Korea is far weaker.

This is where the negotiations stand at the moment. Before the summit, North Korea agreed to an easily reversible moratorium on nuclear and missile testing, it blew up a nuclear test site (but probably only for show), it started razing a missile-testing site, and it released three U.S. prisoners who had been taken so that North Korea could get credit for releasing them.

And in return, Trump legitimated the odious North Korean regime, stopped U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises (which he called, adopting Pyongyang’s language, “provocative … war games”) and destroyed his “maximum pressure” policy of sanctions. China is no longer enforcing sanctions as rigorously as it once did, and the United States is not imposing new sanctions. The pressure is off — and will stay off as long as Kim makes a show of negotiating.

Kim’s incentive, naturally, is to draw out the process as long as possible while giving up as little as possible. And Trump’s incentive is to play along in the hopes of winning a Nobel Peace Prize. Yes, this is preferable to nuclear war — but that doesn’t mean that Trump wasn’t snookered.


June 13, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

The Reality of Fukushima Radiation Pollution Exposure

From Kennichi Abe

june 12 2018.jpg

“When people nationwide will know about the reality of radiation pollution exposure after 3.11, there are no people who will come to Fukushima prefecture.
There is no report as to the fact that it can be dangerous. There is no news in Fukushima except that it doesn’t matter.”

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

LDP-backed candidate wins governor’s race in Niigata

A candidate backed by the pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party won the Niigata gubernatorial election June 10. TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the Niigata prefecture is the largest nuclear power plant in the world. In December 2017, the Nuclear Regulation Authority completed its major safety screenings of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the plant.
Hideyo Hanazumi, a candidate backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, celebrates his election victory in Niigata on June 10.
June 11, 2018
NIIGATA–A candidate backed by the pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party won the Niigata gubernatorial election June 10, but he remained unclear on whether he would approve the restart of Japan’s largest nuclear power plant.
Hideyo Hanazumi, 60, former vice commandant of the Japan Coast Guard, defeated two other candidates, including Chikako Ikeda, 57, a former Niigata prefectural assemblywoman who was supported by five opposition parties.
The election was held to replace Ryuichi Yoneyama, 50, who resigned in April over a sex scandal.
Yoneyama had shown a cautious stance toward approving the resumption of operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the prefecture.
In December 2017, the Nuclear Regulation Authority completed its major safety screenings of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the plant. That shifted the focus on whether the Niigata prefectural government and the two municipal governments of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa would give their consent to bring the reactors online.
However, Yoneyama said he first wanted to find the cause of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Hanazumi, who also received support from Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, took a cautious stance on the reactor restarts during the campaign.
When his victory became certain on the night of June 10, Hanazumi said: “I will firmly maintain the (prefectural government’s) work (of looking into the cause of the Fukushima accident). Based on the results of the work, I will make a judgment as the leader (of Niigata Prefecture).”
He also referred to the possibility of holding another election when he decides on whether to approve the reactor restarts.
Hanazumi, who was vice governor of Niigata Prefecture from 2013 to 2015, garnered 546,670 votes, compared with 509,568 for Ikeda, who was backed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Party for the People, the Japanese Communist Party, the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party.
Another candidate, Satoshi Annaka, 40, a former Gosen city assemblyman, received 45,628 ballots.
Voter turnout was 58.25 percent, up 5.2 points from 53.05 percent in the previous gubernatorial election held in 2016.
During the campaign, Hanazumi kept a distance from the Abe administration and the LDP as criticism mounted against the prime minister over scandals related to school operators Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake Educational Institution.
Ikeda had also pledged to take over Yoneyama’s work concerning the Fukushima disaster, and she blasted the Abe administration for its pro-nuclear stance.
However, she was unable to effectively differentiate herself from Hanazumi over the restarts at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
In Tokyo, LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai told reporters that Hanazumi’s victory is good news for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to seek a third term in the LDP presidential election in autumn.
“It’s certain that favorable winds have begun blowing,” Nikai said.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Imperial couple pass evacuation zone 5.8 km from Fukushima plant

10 june 2018 minamisoma.jpg
A car carrying Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko runs on National Road No. 6 in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 10. Bags containing radioactive soil are piled up along the road.
FUKUSHIMA–Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko passed through a “difficult-to-return zone” near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on June 10 on their last visit to the disaster area before abdication.
The car carrying the imperial couple was running on an expressway from Iwaki to Minami-Soma in Fukushima Prefecture when it slowed down at a point 5.8 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to the chamberlain of the Imperial Household Agency.
An Imperial Guard official accompanying the couple explained the location of the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Although the nuclear plant could not be seen through the rainy weather, Akihito and Michiko looked toward its direction without saying a word.
After leaving the expressway, the car ran on National Road No. 6, which is lined on both sides with bags filled with radioactive soil and debris. The couple apparently saw them from inside the vehicle.
The emperor and empress attended a national tree-planting festival held in the prefecture on that day.
On the night of June 9, the couple watched hula girls’ dances at the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Iwaki where they stayed.
The resort was shut down because of damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011.
The hula girls lost their place to dance, but they toured Japan and became a symbol of reconstruction from the disaster.
Rie Igari, who had led the dancing team for four years, served as a guide for the imperial couple.
With Akihito and Michiko frequently clapping, the hula girls performed dances to three songs, including “Hana wa Saku” (Flowers bloom), a song designed to support rebuilding efforts.
“The emperor and the empress repeatedly visited Fukushima (Prefecture) after the disaster, and their visits promoted reconstruction,” said Haruna Suzuki, captain of the dance team. “Without ever forgetting our feelings of gratitude, we will continue to work to help reconstruction.”

10 june 2018 minamisoma.jpg

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Returnee Fukushima farmers offer taste of rice cultivation in hopes of revitalization

Sustaining the hope of recovery despite the radioactive contamination risk
10 june 2018 namie.jpg
University students covered in mud plant rice saplings in a drained paddy in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 19, 2018.
June 10, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — University students and others from around Japan are coming to the farming villages of Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders from the 2011 nuclear disaster have been lifted, experiencing rice planting and interacting with local residents who are facing a difficult recovery and population decline.
Organized by local municipal governments and residents, the visits by people from outside the region affected by the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster are providing inspiration to farmers, who have seen less than 20 percent of the pre-disaster farmland planted, and few inheritors to carry on the region’s farming industry.
The laughter echoed over the idle farmland of the Sakata district in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, as university students and other participants planted rice by hand in a drained paddy on May 19.
“Everyone looks like they’re having fun,” said Namie resident and farmer Kiyoto Matsumoto, 79, with a smile. “Watching them is pretty enjoyable.”
Students started coming to Namie to experience rice planting two years ago. The idea of the event was to have them learn about the current conditions in areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, and to link the awareness with the revitalization of the region. On that day, roughly 60 students worked up a sweat in the mud of the rice paddies. The students can also take part in the harvest of the crops and sell the rice at a local festival held in the town in November.
“I really got a feel for how hard farmers work, and I also learned about the lack of successors to take over the farms and other issues,” said an 18-year-old first-timer, a student at Waseda University in Tokyo. Matsumoto hopes that “the young people (who participate) will be able to feel something through experiencing agricultural work.”
In areas where the 2011 evacuation order has been lifted, rice production has once again become possible. The Fukushima Prefectural Government has been testing all rice produced within the prefecture, and there have been no cases where the rice exceeded the standard limit of the radioactive material cesium from 2015-2017. Still, even after the evacuation order was lifted, residents have not been returning to their pre-disaster homes, and with the added influence of an aging population and a lack of successors, there are few farmers who have taken up rice cultivation again. Of the farmland across the five villages and towns of Tomioka, Namie, Iitate, Katsurao and Naraha, the Odaka Ward of the city of Minamisoma and the Yamakiya district of the town of Kawamata, for which evacuation orders were lifted between 2015 and 2017, only between less than 1 percent to 14 percent of the pre-disaster farmland was in use this spring.
In the village of Iitate, 73-year-old farmer Masao Aita also held a rice-planting event on May 19 for adults and students alike that attracted 32 participants. Aita and his wife just returned to the village the month before. The couple had given up on cultivating rice out of concern that they would not be able to sell what they had produced, and planned to plant the fields with tulips and other flowers. However, they were approached by a volunteer group. The group recommended the rice cultivation event.
Aita plans to send the harvested rice to each of the participants and have them give it a taste. “If people from the outside come visit the village, then it is bound to spark something eventually,” he said.
(Japanese original by Shuji Ozaki, Fukushima Bureau)

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

What’s NOT in the summit agreement ?- that’s the revealing part.

US-North Korea summit agreement is most revealing for what it leaves out, The Conversation, Benjamin Habib, Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics and Philosophy, La Trobe University, 12 June 18 

“…… is not so much what is in the joint statement as much as what has been left out that is the big story.

To tease this out, let’s consider the four specific points of agreement articulated in the joint statement released by US President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un at the conclusion of today’s summit…..

The joint statement gets interesting in article three, in which “the DPRK commits to work toward the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.”

The wording around “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” reflects the North Korean interpretation of the concept, which has been well-documented in the lead-up to the summit.

Tellingly, there is no mention of “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation” (CVID) in the statement text, which is a clear departure from long-standing US policy.

…….. My take-home message from the omission of CVID from the joint statement is confirmation that North Korea under Kim Jong-un is never going to willingly denuclearise.

In “working toward complete denuclearisation,” North Korea may agree to a nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing moratorium, decommission obsolete nuclear facilities, or even promise to freeze production of new nuclear weapons, without ever having to compromise its nuclear weapons capability……..

The final paragraph of the joint statement commits US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with an as yet unidentified high level North Korean official. It will be at these meetings and beyond where the “new US-DPRK relations” will start to take shape.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | politics international | Leave a comment

The Singapore nuclear summit – a huge win for Kim Jong UN

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

The Guardian view on Trump in Singapore: a huge win – for North Korea  13 June 18 
Editorial   A confident leader strode into the Singapore summit and won. Kim Jong-un went with a plan, gave little and left with plenty: bolstered status and diplomatic leverage, lavish praise from the US president, the promise of an end to US-South Korean military drills – and, surely, a growing confidence that North Korea is doing well at this game. A meeting supposed to effect a breakthrough on denuclearisation looked “more like a big welcome party to the nuclear-armed club”, in the acid but accurate words of one observer.

Better than war, for sure. But since it was Donald Trump who raised that spectre, giving him credit for dispelling it would be like calling a man a life-saver when second thoughts stay his hand from murder. The US president handed over gift after gift in exchange for the inflation of his ego. He does not know or does not care that his country went home poorer than it came. The language in the joint statement was weaker than in previous agreements– the very significant difference being that the North is now much further advanced in its nuclear programme. There was not even a pledge that either side “shall” take action; just the assertion that North Korea will “commit to working towards” denuclearisation, which it sees as a general, not unilateral, process.

In return Mr Trump axed the drills with, it seems, no warning to Seoul (or even US forces). Worse, he described them as “provocative” and “inappropriate”, not just giving the North what it wanted, but suggesting it was right to demand it. He added that he hoped to withdraw US troops from South Korea at some point – further undermining the long alliance.

Mr Trump’s recounting of the meeting would have been laughable were it not so shocking. He explained to the North Koreans that they could have “the best hotels in the world” on the beaches they use for artillery drills. He presented Mr Kim with a Hollywood-style movie trailer laying out the choice before him, complete with growling voiceover. He described the 100,000 or more North Koreans held in prison camps as “one of the big winners” of the meeting, though not even the vaguest assurance was extracted on their behalf. While finding time for another crack at Canada’s Justin Trudeau, he called Mr Kim “a very talented man” who wants to do the right thing and loves his country. He praised him for “running it tough” (quite the euphemism for a dictatorship with human rights atrocities which the UN calls unparalleled in the modern world). And the comprehensive, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation on which the US was to insist? Ah: “There was no time!” to cover that. But he would be surprised if the North Koreans hadn’t begun already. Mr Trump thinks that the two sides probably have a rough transcript capturing all this, but does not need to verify anything because “I have one of the great memories of all time”. No satirist would dare to invent this.

Hope for the best but don’t expect much progress in lower-level talks next week; nor at meetings at the White House or in Pyongyang, mooted by the US president. China has already implied that it may be time to relax sanctions; South Korea and Russia have hinted that they are similarly minded. Even Mr Trump acknowledged that in six months’ time it may emerge that the North Koreans are not taking action (adding, in a startling moment of candour, that “I will find some sort of excuse” rather than admit that).

“He trusts me and I trust him,” Mr Trump boldly declared of Mr Kim. But if the US president is so naive, surely the North Korean leader cannot be. In so far as the US president has any enduring belief, it appears to be that disruption is a good in and of itself: that throwing everyone else off-balance must benefit the world’s only superpower, as one official has suggested (his colleague had a cruder characterisation). Withdrawal from the Iran deal proved that America’s enemies cannot rely upon its word. The G7 and Singapore summits demonstrated that allies cannot either. But Tuesday’s meeting also showed that Americans have reason to be wary. They too cannot count upon Mr Trump to live up to his promises.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

What the Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un document actually says

Singapore summit: Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un document released after historic meeting 12, 2018, Sentosa Island

The text from the document signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has been made available. Here it is in full:

President Donald J Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new US-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new US-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognising that mutual confidence-building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un state the following:

  1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the US-DPRK summit — the first in history — was an epochal event of great significance and overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the US-DPRK summit.

President Donald J Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new US-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Amazingly High Radiation in Tokyo Bay — 131,000 Bq per Meter Squared


A monitoring survey was conducted from August 2011 to July 2016 of the spatiotemporal
distribution in the 400 km2 area of the northern part of Tokyo Bay and in rivers flowing into it of radiocesium released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident.

The average inventory in the river mouth (10 km2) was 131 kBq⋅m-2 and 0.73 kBq⋅m-2 in the central bay (330 km2) as the decay corrected value on March 16, 2011. Most of the radiocesium that flowed into Tokyo Bay originated in the northeastern section of the Tokyo metropolitan area, where the highest precipitation zone of 137Cs in soil was almost the same level as that in Fukushima City, then flowed into and was deposited in the Old-Edogawa River estuary, deep in Tokyo Bay.

The highest precipitation of radiocesium measured in the high contaminated zone was 460 kBq⋅m-2. The inventory in sediment off the estuary of Old-Edogawa was 20.1 kBq⋅m-2 in August 2011 immediately after the accident, but it increased to 104 kBq⋅m-2 in July 2016. However, the radiocesium diffused minimally in sediments in the central area of Tokyo Bay in the five years following the FDNPP accident.

The flux of radiocesium off the estuary decreased slightly immediately after the accident and conformed almost exactly to the values predicted based on its radioactive decay. Contrarily, the inventory of radiocesium in the sediment has increased.

It was estimated that of the 8.33 TBq precipitated from the atmosphere in the catchment regions of the rivers Edogawa and Old-Edogawa, 1.31 TBq migrated through rivers and was deposited in the sediments of the Old-Edogawa estuary by July 2016. Currently, 0.25 TBq⋅yr-1 of radiocesium continues to flow into the deep parts of Tokyo Bay.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Japan, water | 1 Comment

Scientists predict millions of climate refugees – but where will they go?

Universal migration predicts human movements under climate change, Physics World, 12 Jun 2018 

Climate change is expected to displace millions of people through impacts like sea level rise, crop failures, and more frequent extreme weather. Yet scientists still cannot predict where these expected climate-induced migrants are likely to go in the coming decades.

A new study, published today in Environmental Research Letters, seeks to address this need by incorporating climate impacts into a universal model of human mobility.

To demonstrate the efficacy of the new approach, the study focused on the case of sea level rise (SLR) and human migration in Bangladesh, where the authors estimate that more than two million Bangladeshis may be displaced from their homes by 2100 because of rising sea levels alone.

The study, led by Columbia University, New York, used a probabilistic model combined with population, geographic, and climatic data to predict the sources, destinations, and flux of potential migrants caused by sea level rise.

Lead author Dr Kyle Davis, from Columbia University, explained: “More than 40 per cent of Bangladesh’s population is especially vulnerable to future sea level rise, as they live in low-lying areas that are often exposed to extreme natural events.

“However, SLR is a very different type of migration driver from short-lived natural hazards, in that it will make certain areas permanently uninhabitable.”

The team’s results using Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios showed that mean SLR will cause population displacements in 33 per cent of Bangladesh’s districts, and 53 per cent under more intensive conditions. By mid-century, they estimated nearly 900,000 people are likely to migrate because of direct inundation from mean SLR alone.

Under the most extreme scenario, of up to 2 metre mean SLR, the number of migrants driven by direct inundation could rise to as many as 2.1 million people by the year 2100. For all RCP scenarios, five districts – Barisal, Chandpur, Munshiganj, Narayanganj, and Shariatpur – are the source for 59 per cent of all migrants.

Their analysis considered mean SLR without normal high tides, so the results – both in terms of inundated area and displaced population – are conservative.

The researchers also estimated the extra jobs, housing and food needed to accommodate these migrants at their destinations. They found that to cope with the numbers likely to be displaced by 2050, 600,000 additional jobs, 200,000 residences and 784 billion food calories will be needed.

These results have clear implications for the places that are likely to receive incoming migrants…….

June 13, 2018 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Faster global warming predicted, with new Antarctic study

Climate Central   By Mikayla Mace, Arizona Daily Star  10 June 18

A group of scientists, including one from the University of Arizona, has new findings suggesting Antarctica’s Southern Ocean — long known to play an integral role in climate change — may not be absorbing as much pollution as previously thought.

To reach their contradictory conclusion, the team used state-of-the-art sensors to collect more data on the Southern Ocean than ever before, including during the perilous winter months that previously made the research difficult if not impossible.The old belief was the ocean pulled about 13 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change — out of the atmosphere, helping put the brakes on rising global temperatures.

Some oceanographers suspect that less CO2 is being absorbed because the westerlies — the winds that ring the southernmost continent — are tightening like a noose. As these powerful winds get more concentrated, they dig at the water, pushing it out and away.

Water from below rises to take its place, dragging up decaying muck made of carbon from deep in the ocean that can then either be released into the atmosphere in the form of CO2 or slow the rate that CO2 is absorbed by the water. Either way, it’s not good.

The Southern Ocean is far away, but “for Arizona, this is what matters,” said Joellen Russell, the University of Arizona oceanographer and co-author on the paper revealing these findings. “We don’t see the Southern Ocean, and yet it has reached out the icy hand.”

Oceans, rivers, lakes and vegetation can moderate extreme changes in temperature. Southern Arizona has no such buffers, leaving us vulnerable as average global temperatures march upward.

“Everybody asks, ‘Why are you at the UA?’” Russell said about studying the Southern Ocean from the desert at the University of Arizona. She said the research is important to Arizona and the university supports her work.

…….. scientists know less about the Southern Ocean than the rest of the world’s oceans. What they do know is mostly limited to surface CO2 levels in the summer, when it’s safer to take measurements by ships with researchers aboard. Shipboard sensors that directly measure CO2 are the accepted scientific standard in these types of studies.

Understanding CO2 levels within the air, land and sea and how it is exchanged between the three is necessary for making more accurate future climate predictions.

To fill the gap in knowledge, Russell and her team have deployed an array of cylindrical tanks, called floats, that collect data on carbon and more in the Southern Ocean year-round. Russell leads the modeling component of this project called Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling, or SOCCOM.

The floats drift 1,000 meters below the surface. Every 10 days, they plunge a thousand meters deeper, then bob up to the surface before returning to their original depth.

For three years, 35 floats equipped with state-of-the-art sensors the size of a coffee cup have been collecting data along the way and beaming it back to the researchers, like Russell in Tucson. Within hours, the data is freely available online.

They measure ocean acidity, or pH, and other metrics to understand the biogeochemistry of the elusive ocean, but not without controversy.

Making a splash

Alison Gray, an oceanographer at the University of Washington, is the lead author on the study. She said there are two reasons the study may contradict what has previously been thought of about the Southern Ocean: The lack of winter-time observations at the ocean by other researchers and the fact that ocean carbon levels might vary throughout the year.

So while SOCCOM is making it possible to get more data than ever before, others question her nontraditional methods. ………

June 13, 2018 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Fundamental problem with Britain’s Wylfa nuclear power programme – it’s a ripoff

Observer 10th June 2018, Set aside the debate over whether it’s right that the government should
be proposing to use more than £5bn to help Hitachi. There is a more
fundamental problem with the project: it’s a rip-off.

Even with a state stake, the project will be ridiculously costly for consumers and
alternatives are much cheaper. The government is understood to be
considering a guaranteed price from the Wylfa project on Anglesey of around
£77.50/MWh of electricity: a subsidy to be paid through energy bills for
35 years.

It looks cheap compared to the £92.50/MWh promised to EDF Energy
for Hinkley Point C in Somerset. But that is like saying a Lotus is
affordable compared with a Ferrari. Hinkley was branded “risky and
expensive” by the spending watchdog. It is not a good yardstick.

As one MP pointed out, offshore windfarms have won contracts for as little as
£57.50/MWh. “That is the real cost benchmark that the government should
use,” said the SNP’s Alan Brown. Solar and onshore windfarms would be
even cheaper, but have had their subsidies scrapped. Storage, smarter grids
and imports can help the UK manage renewables’ variable output. Clark’s
intervention shows the economics of new nuclear do not work. Why should
consumers pay through the nose when there are lower-cost alternatives?

June 13, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

Fast Company 5th June 2018 , People across the U.S. tell their own stories of how wind and solar have
changed their lives and benefitted the diverse regions where they live.
“After I lost my job, I had about three days of sulking, and then I got
up and decided to listen to some of my co-workers’ advice to look into
wind turbines,” he said in Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable
Energy Boom, a new film (to be widely released this summer) from the Sierra
Club about the energy revolution in America.
He now works as a turbine engineer, and the wind industry is helping the state climb out of its deep
recession. Bruce’s circumstances are not unusual: In the U.S., jobs in
sectors that have traditionally boosted the economy are disappearing. Coal
is environmentally damaging and expensive to mine. Car companies are
looking at an eventual slow-down in sales. Across both sectors and many
more, automation is putting people out of work.
Renewable energy is poised to step up where these older sectors are falling behind. Wind and solar
employ over 800,000 people across the country, and are some of the
fastest-growing industries. As these resources scale, they’re becoming
economically viable–solar is around 50% cheaper than coal–and
wide-scale adoption of wind and solar could help curb America’s carbon
emissions. And they’re adaptable across a range of communities:
Reinventing Power traces the establishment of the country’s first
offshore wind farm near the tiny Rhode Island community of Block Island and
delves into community solar programs in Austin and wind power on Northern
Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana and a farm in North Carolina, The
film also follows the retraining of former coal miners and auto workers for
jobs in renewables throughout the U.S.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Systemic failures in France’s Flamanville nuclear project

Challenges 8th June 2018 [Machine Translation] EPR plant in Flamanville: does EDF really control its
construction site? While China has inaugurated its first EPR reactor,
delays are accumulating on the site of the EPR Flamanville in the Channel.
Defects noted at the end of March on strategic welds will further postpone
the opening of the plant “at least a few months” according to the Nuclear
Safety Authority.

In Flamanville, we are facing systemic failures. It is no
longer a matter of simple problems that add up to each other. It is in
these terms that Mycle Schneider, an independent Canadian expert and
co-author of an annual report on the nuclear industry, draws the alarming
report of the Flamanville shipyard. On May 31, EDF announced a delay of
several months in the construction of the EPR plant due to welding defects
on pipes. A new setback that will delay the commissioning of the plant. And
this is mainly due to a long series of problems since the launch of the
project in December 2007.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

US demands Japan reduce its plutonium stockpiles

Nikkei Asian Review 10th June 2018 , US demands Japan reduce its plutonium stockpiles. Trump-Kim summit raises
questions about Tokyo’s nuclear exemption. The U.S. has called on Japan to
reduce its high levels of stockpiled plutonium, a move that comes as the
Trump administration seeks to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear
weapons, Nikkei has learned.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment