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Wildfire danger s are increasing, due to climate change

How climate change is increasing the risk of wildfires, The Conversation,  Fabrizio Manco, Senior Lecturer in GIS and Ecology, Anglia Ruskin University, 

The army has been called in to help firefighters deal with a huge wildfire on Saddleworth Moor, Greater Manchester, where residents have been forced to evacuate. Wildfires are also blazing across Northern Californiawhile the issue of bushfires in Australia calls for constant vigilance from the emergency services there. These fires are becoming more common and one of the reasons for this is climate change.

Warmer temperatures in the summer and associated drier conditions desiccate plant materials and create more vegetation litter, providing more fuel for these fires. Several studies have linked the increase of wildfires with climate change in various parts of the world, such as North America and Southern Europe.

For example, a study in California from 2004 found that the warmer and windier weather (brought about by an atmosphere with higher levels of CO2) produced fires that burned more intensely and spread faster in most locations. Despite enhanced firefighting efforts, the number of escaped fires (those exceeding initial containment limits) increased by 51% in the south San Francisco Bay area, 125% in the Sierra Nevada.

It has also been demonstrated that increases in rainfall during winter and spring – which are also known consequences of climate change – provide more favourable conditions for plant growth and therefore more potential fuel for the fires later in the summer.

Even though climate change increases the vulnerability of dry environments to wildfires, a source of ignition is still required. In the UK, it can be natural (such as bolts of lightning) or caused by man either deliberately or accidentally. Various studies have shown that the number of recreational visits to “risky” sites, such as the English Peak District, increase the occurrence of wildfire.

Despite its destructive power, fire is an important ecological process that can benefit several endangered species by maintaining their habitat. It is an important tool in the management and preservation of heathlands and moorlands in the UK when used appropriately and in a controlled way.

But climate change and human activities increase the vulnerability of those habitats to uncontrolled wildfires and higher population densities near these areas will potentially put more people and houses at risk. In addition to the global battle against climate change, appropriate management procedures are necessary to maintain those habitats and ensure the risks of uncontrolled fires are minimised and the potential spread of them reduced.


June 29, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change linked to potential population decline in bees

Study finds that warmer temperatures push bees to their physiological limits, may drive local extinction, Science daily 

June 28, 2018
Northwestern University
A new study has found that climate change may drive local extinction of mason bees in Arizona and other naturally warm climates.

A new study from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden has found that climate change may drive local extinction of mason bees in Arizona and other naturally warm climates.

In a two-year, in situ field experiment that altered the temperature of the bees’ nests to simulate a warmer, future climate, 35 percent of bees died in the first year and 70 percent died in the second year. This is compared to a 1-2 percent mortality rate in the control group.

“The projected temperatures appear to be pushing this species up against its physiological limits,” said Northwestern’s Paul CaraDonna, who led the research. “This is evidence that we might see local extinction in the warmer parts of this species’ range, which is pretty sobering.”

The study will publish online on Thursday, June 28 in the British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology. CaraDonna is an assistant professor of instruction in the Program in Plant Biology and Conservation in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a research scientist at the Chicago Botanic Gardens…….

June 29, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Radiation from USA’s nuclear bomb tests went far and wide – now compensation is needed

Cold War Weapons Testing Made People Sick. Now, More Mountain West Residents Could Be Compensated  • JUN 28, 2018 

Nuclear testing during the Cold War sent radioactive fallout far away from the actual test sites. Politicians are moving to expand who can be compensated by the government for getting sick after exposure to that fallout.

The tests mostly happened in Nevada but winds sent radioactive materials far and wide. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said one detonation in 1952 was particularly memorable to his constituents.

“Idahoans that I’ve spoken to in Emmett and elsewhere have shared their memories of waking to find their pastures and orchards covered with a fine grey-white dust that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. It looked like frost, yet it was not cold to touch,” Crapo said in a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing Wednesday.

In 1990 Congress created a program to compensate people who became seriously ill after radiation exposure.

According to the Department of Justice, since the programstarted more than $2 billion has been given in compensation. People like miners who worked directly with radioactive materials can get $100,000, people who were on site during nuclear tests get $75,000 and people who lived downwind of a major test site in Nevada get $50,000. So-called “downwinders” have to have lived in certain counties within Utah, Nevada and Arizona at the time of testing to be considered eligible.

“Unfortunately, the science at the time failed to recognize that radioactive fallout is not restricted by state lines,” said Crapo.

According to the National Cancer Institute, some of that fallout landed on fields across the country and especially in the Mountain West. It was consumed by animals like cows and eventually made it into milk cartons. Because of that, people who were milk-drinking children at the time are considered to have a higher risk of thyroid cancer.

Senators, including Crapo, have sponsored a bill that would expand the group of eligible “downwinders” to people who lived in parts of Idaho, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Guam at the time that tests were conducted.

The bill would also establish a grant program for further research into the health impacts of uranium mining and would extend the deadline for filing claims from 2022 to the late 2030s.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Socialism is the Trump govt’s policy when it comes to coal and nuclear

Trump administration wants welfare for coal and nuclear power, By TOM RIBE | Writers on the Range 

The Trump administration just sent a tsunami through America’s electrical energy world when a leaked memo revealed that it had a new plan to shovel millions of dollars to the coal and nuclear power industries.

The memo, leaked to Bloomberg News and written by a member of Trump’s National Security Council, said that the nation faced a “grid emergency” because so many coal and nuclear power plants had shut down. The memo argued that the government could simply order private utility companies to buy high-cost electric power, because “national security” concerns mandated using “fuel-secure” sources to protect national security.

The memo claimed that “resources that have a secure, on-site fuel supply, including nuclear and coal fired power plants … are essential to support the nation’s defense facilities and critical energy infrastructure.” And it added that “due largely to regulatory and economic factors, too many of these fuel-secure facilities have retired prematurely.”

Prematurely? There is no shortage of electric power generation in the United States. The historic shift in this country toward cleaner, renewable energy is driven by national and international energy markets, not by tax breaks or government regulations. Countries around the world are investing in cheaper solar and wind power to address climate change and air pollution. One might think that free-market conservatives would be delighted to see competitive markets providing abundant, low-cost electricity from diverse sources to American consumers — all without interference from government. But apparently this case is different.

As for any threats to our national security, Vermont Law School professor Peter A. Bradford has pointed out: “We have no military crisis and no threats to our system reliability or resilience that require this drastic and expensive governmental intervention. The facts are being fixed around the desired end result.”

A political explanation seems like the real reason behind the administration’s determination to prop up coal. Trump’s staff has found a way to fulfill his campaign promise to rescue the dying coal industry, whose production has dropped 38 percent in the last decade. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, who gave Trump $300,000 for his inauguration, presented Energy Secretary Rick Perry with an “action plan” last March that included ending pollution controls on coal plants and stopping the rapid shift toward wind and solar energy.

Perry tried to direct federal subsidies to coal, only to be blocked last September by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The leaked National Security Council memo noted that the Trump administration could use laws, such as the Federal Power Act and the Defense Production Act, to force utilities to buy high-cost power from coal and nuclear plants, though neither act has been used for these purposes before.

The memo also stated that natural gas is vulnerable to “cyber attacks” that make its supply unreliable, though record supplies of natural gas exist throughout the country. What the memo ignores is the reality that wind and solar, which make up about a quarter of power generation in this country, are abundant resources — nowhere near scarce.

Ever since horizontal drilling — fracking — transformed the oil and gas industry, this country has been producing large amounts of natural gas. Prices have dropped dramatically, and many coal-burning plants have converted to natural gas. Natural gas, however, is also a potent contributor to global climate change, and the continued flaring of methane during gas production is a significant, largely uncalculated source of pollution.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a nonprofit that supports nuclear-free renewable energy, estimates that the coal and nuclear plant subsidies proposed in the memo could cost consumers up to $35 billion per year. Tim Judson, the group’s executive director, said, “Betting on old, increasingly uneconomical nuclear and coal power plants as a national security strategy is like gold-plating a Studebaker and calling it a tank. It could destroy the booming renewable energy industry, which is already employing more Americans than coal and nuclear combined.”

At a Senate hearing on June 11, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell characterized the proposal as nothing more than “political payback” for the coal industry, and members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who testified agreed that there is no “grid emergency.” Citing market interference, even the American Petroleum Institute testified against subsidizing coal and nuclear power.

Trump, who apparently developed his ideas on energy policy back in the 1970s, has shown little interest in any of the major changes to America’s energy picture since then. His effort to turn back the clock to fulfill his campaign promises to coal miners and repay political contributions could throw tens of thousands of people out of work, forfeit America’s leadership in energy technology, and worsen global warming.

America’s environmental and energy future depends upon a vigorous public pushback against this wrongheaded move.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Delay in removing spent nuclear fuel from Fukushima’s crippled nuclear reactor

Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed, operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says work to remove spent nuclear fuel from a cooling pool at one of its reactors may be delayed.

A total of 566 fuel units remain in the cooling pool at the No.3 reactor, which suffered a meltdown in 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, planned to start removing the fuel as early as this autumn, as part of the decommissioning of the nuclear complex.

But on Thursday, TEPCO revealed the control board of a crane used in the removal malfunctioned during a test run last month. It blamed a voltage error and said the board will be replaced.

The company said the test run may be delayed by one or 2 months, pushing back the start date for fuel removal.

TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer, Akira Ono, says he takes the glitch seriously as it shows key equipment was not handled properly.

He says that although safety must come first, his team still aims to stick to the original timetable and start the removal of nuclear fuel by around the middle of the current fiscal year, which ends in March next year.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

 Climate change: ‘Next generation will bear the cost’    Climate change: ‘Next generation will bear the cost’

The chair of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Deben, has warned that the next generation will have to bear the cost of lowering carbon emissions.

He told Today that due to the Industrial Revolution, Britain is “rich because of that pollution” and the government isn’t doing enough to tackle climate change.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Britain’s Planning Inspectorate has accepted Hitachi unit Horizon’s application for the Wylfa nuclear power station in Wales

Reuters 29th June 2018 , Britain’s Planning Inspectorate has accepted Hitachi unit Horizon’s
application for the Wylfa nuclear power station in Wales, it said, one of
several new plants aimed at replacing the UK’s ageing fleet of atomic
reactors and coal plants. “We have considered very carefully the
application submitted by Horizon Nuclear Power and decided that it meets
the required tests set out in the legislation to be accepted for
examination,” Sarah Richards, chief executive of the Planning
Inspectorate, said in a statement. “Of course, this does not mean that
consent will be given for the project to go ahead – acceptance of the
application simply means that the Examining Authority can begin to make
arrangements for the formal examination of the application,” she added.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear power bigwigs want “community engagement”, but exclude critics of Sizewell nuclear project

Ipswich Star 28th June 2018 , Sizewell C boss under fire for meeting Suffolk business leaders – but not
campaign groups. EDF Energy chief executive Simone Rossi is addressing
Suffolk Chamber of Commerce members at their annual general meeting in
Ipswich on Friday, June 29.

But Theberton and Eastbridge Action Group on
Sizewell (TEAGS), Minsmere Levels Stakeholder Group (MLSG) and the B1122
Action Group said he should show his commitment to community engagement and
meet with them too. “Despite being in post for eight months and speaking
about Sizewell regularly to the national media, Simone Rossi appears
surprisingly reluctant to visit us,” said Paul Collins of TEAGS and MLSG.

“If EDF really wants to show its commitment to engagement, Simone Rossi
will make it a priority to come and meet the community that is on the
frontline of Sizewell C and D and that will suffer a cumulative and
disproportionate impact during construction. He owes it to the people of
east Suffolk to come and hear our concerns face to face and ensure that EDF
meets its stated obligations before the next round of consultation.”

June 29, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Jordan gives up on big nuclear power station, but might be sucked in by “Small Nukes” propaganda

Middle East Monitor 29th June 2018 The chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Khaled Toukan,
announced today that his country has abandoned the idea of establishing a
nuclear power plant, which was planned to be built with Russian technology
with a capacity of 2,000 megawatt. Dr. Toukan told a news conference that
the commission has abandoned the construction of a large plant and will
consider building small reactors. The chairman added that small reactors
need less funding and are more likely to be sponsored internationally than
large stations.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Jordan, politics | Leave a comment

North Korea has little incentive to “denuclearize”. Trump’s incoherent strategy leaves the world in danger

North Korea’s nuclear facilities cannot be closed with a handshake Jun 29, 2018     By Jonathan Cristol , Research Fellow in the Levermore Global Scholars Program at Adelphi University and Senior Fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College.  @jonathancristol.  

(CNN) — On Wednesday, the North Korea watchers at 38 North released satellite imagery that shows North Korea making improvements to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. While this report is unsettling, it is not at all surprising.

More unsettling than the report is the possibility that President Donald Trump believed that the North Korean nuclear threat could be solved by a handshake. In the immediate aftermath of the Singapore Summit, Trump said that, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” That statement was false, and the North Korean activity at Yongbyon proves it.

But North Korean nuclear activity is not in violation of the terms of the summit, since Trump and Kim Jong Un did not sign paperwork regarding immediate and complete denuclearization. Instead, they signed an agreement that includes a vague statement that North Korea will “work toward” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

So far, the Trump administration is the only side moving in that direction — by agreeing to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for vague promises. The improvements at Yongbyon, however, do not even violate Kim’s vague promise, which was only to stop nuclear and ballistic missile testing.

But, more importantly, Kim has little incentive to cease nuclear activity, and for that he can thank the incoherent strategy of Trump. The “maximum pressure” campaign of ever-tightening, crippling sanctions against North Korea is all but forgotten by Washington, and even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says, “I am not going to put a timeline on [denuclearization].”

Additionally, Trump’s statements that the problem is solved gives China little incentive to apply pressure on its southern ally and gives America little leverage over China. Historically, China has been reluctant to apply too much pressure on Pyongyang for fear of a North Korean collapse that would both inundate China with refugees and potentially bring US troops to the Chinese border. It was Kim’s nuclear program that brought China into the sanctions regime. If, as the President said, the nuclear program is solved, then Washington has little recourse if China chooses to resume trading with North Korea.

CNN reports that the upgrades at Yongbyon were long-planned. These upgrades and further actions to strengthen Pyongyang’s nuclear deterrent will continue overtly in absence of an explicit agreement to stop them. And if such an agreement is reached, upgrades to the nuclear program and further research and development will likely continue in underground facilities. North Korea is not likely to give up its nuclear weapons for any reason or for any price.

Trump may think that a warm handshake and a few shared laughs will solve the North Korean problem, but Kim is not so naive. One of the world’s most brutal and repressive dictators, according to Human Rights Watch, is not going to be won over by Trump’s public remarks that he “got along great with Kim Jong Un, who wants to see wonderful things for his country” or that the two leaders share a “special bond.” Kim is going to take advantage of Trump’s pathological desire for praise and promise him the world, while continuing to develop his weapons programs.

The new developments at Yongbyon are not, on their face, cause for concern. But there are reasons to worry about the 38 North report. If Trump thinks that Kim agreed not to continue with his program, then this report (if discussed on his preferred news network) might cause Trump to return to his previous belligerent rhetoric vis-a-vis North Korea. If Trump thinks that this report makes him look weak, then he may be susceptible to John Bolton’s argument that there is a “legal case” to mount a preventive strike against North Korea.

Trump may think that the summit in Singapore prevented a war, but that is only true in the sense that it stopped him from starting one. That said, the summit does not need to be futile — it could also be the start of a genuine and serious set of arms control and limitation negotiations. These negotiations would require patience and skill without an obvious or immediate photo-op or half-clever tweet.

But since Trump is neither known for his patience nor his restraint on social media, we can expect North Korean nuclear research and facilities upgrades to continue apace.


June 29, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Israel is sure that nuclear power for Saudi Arabia will not lead to Saudi nuclear weapons

Israel confident U.S. to keep protections in any Saudi nuclear power deal   Timothy Gardner, WASHINGTON (Reuters) 28 June 18– Israel’s energy minister said on Tuesday after meeting Trump administration officials he is confident that the United States will not relax non-proliferation standards in any nuclear power deal it agrees with Saudi Arabia.

Israel vehemently opposes any effort by the Saudi Arabia to relax “gold standard” non-proliferation limits on enriching uranium or reprocessing nuclear fuel in any deal between the two countries, Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, told Reuters in an interview.

“Once you allow one country to enrich uranium or reprocess fuel, it will be extremely difficult to tell other countries in this vicinity or elsewhere in the world not to do so,” he said.

Steinitz, in Washington for the World Gas Conference, met this week with people in the Trump administration about Saudi Arabia’s quest to build at least two nuclear power stations with the help of U.S. technology. He did not identify who he met with.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been working with Saudi Arabia on a civilian nuclear agreement that could allow the kingdom to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium, practices that non-proliferation advocates worry could one day be covertly altered to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The Energy Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the status of the nuclear power talks with Saudi Arabia.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations, but they share concern about Iranian influence in the Middle East.

If the United States allows Saudi to relax the standards, “then you deteriorate the non-proliferation effort, so I am confident the Americans would listen to our concern,” Steinitz said.

Steinitz said it would support Saudi Arabia’s development of nuclear power only if it included the gold standard protections and if the kingdom purchases uranium from the United States.

Saudi Arabia has said if it does not get U.S. assistance to build reactors it could turn to other international partners. The kingdom is also in talks with companies from Russia, China, South Korea and other countries on nuclear power., Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by James Dalgleish

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Israel, politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

India – the global nuclear weapons threat that is being ignored

A global nuclear threat, The News CN,  Muhammad Umar , 27 June 18India’s nuclear weapons now pose a potential threat to the world. The Agni-V, India’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), can travel 6,000 kilometres.
The country conducted its launch test on June 3 from a canister on a mobile launcher platform from the coast of Odisha. This test flight was the missile’s sixth, and its success suggests that it will soon be put into service.

Keep in mind that the Agni-V ICBM is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to almost anywhere in Asia and to parts of Europe and Africa. Because it can be fired from a mobile launcher, essentially a canister mounted on a truck, instead of a hard concrete launch-pad, it gives the Indian armed forces operational flexibility. They now have the ability to launch the missile against any adversary, almost guaranteeing to take them by surprise by offering a shorter period of time to react. But the Agni-V is not the real danger and is only being seen as a stepping stone towards completing the Agni-VI ICBM, which is rumoured to be in its final phase of development.

The Agni-VI can potentially travel 12,000 kilometres or more, and is supposed to have MIRV capability – the ability to carry several independent nuclear warheads – and a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle (MaRV) capability, the warhead of which is capable of autonomously tracking ground targets. Because of these capabilities, this missile will be unstoppable by the current anti-missile defence systems. Once completed, the Agni-VI will put the whole world within the range of India’s nuclear warheads.

India has taken advantage of the fact that the world has been distracted by North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and the threat they pose that they have entirely ignored the growing threat of India’s nuclear capabilities, its global ambitions, and its threat to international and regional security.

……….By investing on building up its nuclear and conventional forces, PM Modi hopes to project his country as a global power, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the US and China. But, in fact, India is causing a massive headache for the South Asian region by threatening to destabilise the fragile strategic balance with its actions. If India’s ambitions are not kept in check, its growing capabilities are guaranteed to turn into a global threat. Instead of trying to impress the international community by investing so heavily on its defences (and causing havoc), PM Modi should perhaps first invest in his people, which include the more than 330 million Indians living in poverty – nearly a quarter of the country’s total population.There has been very little outcry in the West, particularly in the US, because American presidents in the past have turned a blind eye towards India’s dangerous global nuclear ambitions, hoping to create a new strategic partner capable of taking on China. This has provided India with a situation that it has taken, and continues to take, advantage of by growing its military’s conventional and nuclear capabilities………

Thanks, Muhammad Umar, for this insightful article. But that last paragraph?  Have you forgotten who President Trump is?  He is a ruthless and not terribly intelligent salesman and attention-seeker. His over-riding aim would be to SELL NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY to India –  quite the opposite of “curbing the country’s massive and extremely dangerous military nuclear weapons programme”

June 29, 2018 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Putin: Russia making a quantum leap in nuclear weaponry

Putin says new Russian nuclear weapons are decades ahead of foreign rivals, 58 WGJT Milwaukeee, By:  , 28 June 18 MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted about his country’s prospective nuclear weapons Thursday, saying they are years and even decades ahead of foreign designs.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Market is Shrinking – preview of 2018 World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR),

L’Usine Nouvelle 26th June 2018 The world nuclear market is shrinking, confirms the 2018 edition of the
World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR), unveiled in preview by
L’Usine Nouvelle.

The nuclear spring, which was to succeed the
post-Fukushima winter, still does not arrive. And may well never happen.

Only four new reactors – that is, connected to the electricity grid – were
commissioned in 2017. The first three are in China, the fourth – of Chinese
construction – in Pakistan. In 2018, there will be only three. One in China
and two in Russia, including Rostov 4 under construction since the 1980s.
Statistics from the count of May 31 Julie Hazemann, data manager, and Mycle
Schneider, lead author of the World nuclear industry status report 2018
(WNISR 2018) unveiled in preview by “L’Usine Nouvelle”.

June 29, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics | Leave a comment

High cancer rates in flight attendants – effect of ionising radiation

Flight Attendants Have Higher Rates Of Many Cancers, Study Says | TIME 

Why are flight attendants’ rates of cancer spiking? Disrupted sleep and radiation may be to blame, ABBY HAGLAGE, Jun 28th 2018 

June 29, 2018 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment