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Nuclear catastrophes are sudden, but might be prevented. Climate change is gradual, and becoming irreversible?

Former Defense Secretary Compares Climate Change To Nuclear War, Forbes, Jeff McMahon, 9 Dec 18, There are two existential catastrophes threatening the world, former Defense Secretary William Perry said. One is quick but avoidable, while the other is slowly unfolding.“Our planet today faces two existential dangers,” Perry said at Stanford University, where he now serves as a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. “One of them is nuclear war—nuclear catastrophe—and the other is a climate catastrophe.

The nuclear catastrophe could happen next month, next year, ten years from now or if we’re lucky, never. But if it happens it happens all at once. On the other hand the climate-change catastrophe is on a slow roll. It is happening. It’s happening every month, every year. It’s getting worse…….


December 10, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

US and Russia ally with Saudi Arabia to water down climate pledge 

Guardian, Jonathan Wattsand Ben DohertyMon 10 Dec 2018 , Move shocks delegates at UN cnference as ministers fly in for final week of climate talks The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C.

After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of high-level discussions.

It has also raised fears among scientists that the US president, Donald Trump, is going from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively undermining them alongside a coalition of climate deniers.

Two months ago, representatives from the world’s governments hugged after agreeing on the 1.5C report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), commissioned to spell out the dire consequences should that level of warming be exceeded and how it can be avoided.

Reaching a global consensus was a painstaking process involving thousands of scientists sifting through years of research and diplomats working through the night to ensure the wording was acceptable to all nations.

But when it was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on Saturday, the four oil allies – with Saudi Arabia as the most obdurate – rejected a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they said it should merely be “noted”, which would make it much easier for governments to ignore. The motion has not yet been able to pass as a result of the lack of consensus.

t opened up a rift at the talks that will be hard to close in the coming five days. During the plenary, the EU, a bloc of the 47 least developed countries, as well as African and Latin and South American nations, all spoke in favour of the report. Several denounced the four countries trying to dilute its importance. ………

Scientists were also outraged. “It is troubling. Saudi Arabia has always had bad behaviour in climate talks, but it could be overruled when it was alone or just with Kuwait. That it has now been joined by the US and Russia is much more dangerous,” said Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy in the Union of Concerned Scientists….

Ministers have only five days to establish a rulebook for the Paris agreement. A wild card is the role of the host nation, Poland – the most coal-dependant nation in Europe – which will chair the final week of the meeting………

As well as acceptance of the report, there are several other potential fights brewing regarding transparency rules for reporting emissions and proposals for wealthy high emitters to provide financial support to poorer nations struggling to adapt.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium – the cancer-causing weapon still taking its toll in Iraq

Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq Counter Punch, by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR , DECEMBER 7, 2018, At the close of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields, clotting the air with poisonous clouds of black smoke and saturating the ground with swamps of crude. It was justly called an environmental war crime.

But months of bombing of Iraq by US and British planes and cruise missiles has left behind an even more deadly and insidious legacy: tons of shell casings, bullets and bomb fragments laced with depleted uranium. In all, the US hit Iraqi targets with more than 970 radioactive bombs and missiles.

It took less than a decade for the health consequences from this radioactive bombing campaign to begin to coming into focus. And they are dire, indeed. Iraqi physicians call it “the white death”-leukemia. Since 1990, the incident rate of leukemia in Iraq has grown by more than 600 percent. The situation is compounded by Iraq’s forced isolations and the sadistic sanctions regime, recently described by UN secretary general Kofi Annan as “a humanitarian crisis”, that makes detection and treatment of the cancers all the more difficult.

We have proof of traces of DU in samples taken for analysis and that is really bad for those who assert that cancer cases have grown for other reasons,” said Dr. Umid Mubarak, Iraq’s health minister.

Mubarak contends that the US’s fear of facing the health and environmental consequences of its DU bombing campaign is partly behind its failure to follow through on its commitments under a deal allowing Iraq to sell some of its vast oil reserves in return for food and medical supplies.

The desert dust carries death,” said Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, an oncologist and member England’s Royal Society of Physicians. “Our studies indicate that more than forty percent of the population around Basra will get cancer. We are living through another Hiroshima.”

Most of the leukemia and cancer victims aren’t soldiers. They are civilians. And many of them are children. The US-dominated Iraqi Sanctions Committee in New York has denied Iraq’s repeated requests for cancer treatment equipment and drugs, even painkillers such as morphine. As a result, the overflowing hospitals in towns such as Basra are left to treat the cancer-stricken with aspirin.

This is part of a larger horror inflicted on Iraq that sees as many as 180 children dying every day, according to mortality figures compiled by UNICEF, from a catalogue of diseases from the 19th century: cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, e. coli, mumps, measles, influenza.

Iraqis and Kuwaitis aren’t the only ones showing signs of uranium contamination and sickness. Gulf War veterans, plagued by a variety of illnesses, have been found to have traces of uranium in their blood, feces, urine and semen.

Depleted uranium is a rather benign sounding name for uranium-238, the trace elements left behind when the fissionable material is extracted from uranium-235 for use in nuclear reactors and weapons. For decades, this waste was a radioactive nuisance, piling up at plutonium processing plants across the country. By the late 1980s there was nearly a billion tons of the material.

Then weapons designers at the Pentagon came up with a use for the tailings: they could be molded into bullets and bombs. The material was free and there was plenty at hand. Also uranium is a heavy metal, denser than lead. This makes it perfect for use in armor-penetrating weapons, designed to destroy tanks, armored-personnel carriers and bunkers.

When the tank-busting bombs explode, the depleted uranium oxidizes into microscopic fragments that float through the air like carcinogenic dust, carried on the desert winds for decades. The lethal dust is inhaled, sticks to the fibers of the lungs, and eventually begins to wreck havoc on the body: tumors, hemorrhages, ravaged immune systems, leukemias.

In 1943, the doomsday men associated with the Manhattan Project speculated that uranium and other radioactive materials could be spread across wide swaths of land to contain opposing armies. Gen. Leslie Grove, head of the project, asserted that uranium weapons could be expected to cause “permanent lung damage.” In the late, 1950s Al Gore’s father, the senator from Tennessee, proposed dousing the demilitarized zone in Korea with uranium as a cheap failsafe against an attack from the North Koreans.

After the Gulf War, Pentagon war planners were so delighted with the performance of their radioactive weapons that ordered a new arsenal and under Bill Clinton’s orders fired them at Serb positions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. More than a 100 of the DU bombs have been used in the Balkans over the last six years.

Already medical teams in the region have detected cancer clusters near the bomb sites. The leukemia rate in Sarajevo, pummeled by American bombs in 1996, has tripled in the last five years. But it’s not just the Serbs who are ill and dying. NATO and UN peacekeepers in the region are also coming down with cancer. As of January 23, eight Italian soldiers who served in the region have died of leukemia.

The Pentagon has shuffled through a variety of rationales and excuses. First, the Defense Department shrugged off concerns about Depleted Uranium as wild conspiracy theories by peace activists, environmentalists and Iraqi propagandists. When the US’s NATO allies demanded that the US disclose the chemical and metallic properties of its munitions, the Pentagon refused. It has also refused to order testing of US soldiers stationed in the Gulf and the Balkans.

If the US has kept silent, the Brits haven’t. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 percent of the particles released by depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Kuwait were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths.”

The British estimate assumed that the only radioactive ingredient in the bombs dropped on Iraq was depleted uranium. It wasn’t. A new study of the materials inside these weapons describes them as a “nuclear cocktail,” containing a mix of radioactive elements, including plutonium and the highly radioactive isotope uranium-236. These elements are 100,000 times more dangerous than depleted uranium.

Typically, the Pentagon has tried to dump the blame on the Department of Energy’s sloppy handling of its weapons production plants. This is how Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the situation in chop-logic worthy of the pen of Joseph Heller.: “The source of the contamination as best we can understand it now was the plants themselves that produced the Depleted uranium during the 20 some year time frame when the DU was produced.”

Indeed, the problems at DoE nuclear sites and the contamination of its workers and contractors have been well-known since the 1980s. A 1991 Energy Department memo reports: “during the process of making fuel for nuclear reactors and elements for nuclear weapons, the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant… created depleted uranium potentially containing neptunium and plutonium”

But such excuses in the absence of any action to address the situation are growing very thin indeed. Doug Rokke, the health physicist for the US Army who oversaw the partial clean up of depleted uranium bomb fragments in Kuwait, is now sick. His body registers 5,000 times the level of radiation considered “safe”. He knows where to place the blame. “There can be no reasonable doubt about this,” Rokke told Australian journalist John Pilger. “As a result of heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”

Depleted uranium has a half-life of more than 4 billion years, approximately the age of the Earth. Thousand of acres of land in the Balkans, Kuwait and southern Iraq have been contaminated forever. If George Bush Sr., Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are still casting about for a legacy, there’s a grim one that will stay around for an eternity.

This article is adapted from Been Brown So Long, It Looked Like Green to Me.


December 10, 2018 Posted by | environment, health, Iraq, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A reminder that nuclear power has no part as a solution to climate change

Beyond Nuclear 2nd Dec 2018 , Linda Walker:  Back
in the UK, the Labour Party needs to listen. How many times have you heard
people say ‘I would much rather not have nuclear power but we need it to
combat climate change’? This claim has been made so many times by the
nuclear industry and its supporters that many people now just accept it as
the lesser of two evils.

But the development of new nuclear power plants is
actually no part of the solution to tackling climate change, and is in fact
a big part of the problem.

Nuclear power is not carbon-free; is
prohibitively expensive; all projects overrun wildly on both time and budget; is a source of harmful waste which no one yet knows what to dowith; provides a terrorist target; produces routine emissions which are
harmful to health; power plants are vulnerable to the flooding which will
come as sea levels rise, and have to close down in times of drought;
Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown the widespread and long-term health and
environmental impact of accidents; and even nuclear advocates have recently
admitted the close links to nuclear weapons.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

With Brexit, thorny nuclear problems about the ownership of EU nuclear materials stored in Britain

David Lowry’s Blog 4th Dec 2018 , As Parliament grapples with ministers in a power struggle over disclosure
of legal advice on the Brexit ‘divorce’ agreement and the sovereignty of Parliament, other Brexit–related details have been pushed into the background: but they should not be.
One such issue arose last week in a written answer by the energy minister Richard Harrington to Green Party MP
Caroline Lucas (who represents the Brighton, Pavilion constituency). Dr Lucas asked the business and energy department on 20 November, with reference to Article 83, paragraphs (1) and (2) of the Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Agency (dated 14 November 2018), who will own fissile materials stored at UK nuclear facilities after the UK withdraws from that agency. (‘Radioactive Materials,’ 193428)
In his answer on 28 November, the energy minister stated: “Under the current European Atomic Energy Community
(“Euratom”) Treaty arrangements, special fissile material is collectively owned by the Euratom Community, but the operator with the legal title to the material has an “unlimited right of use and consumption” over it, subject to their complying with the obligations imposed on them by the Treaty. This form of supranational, or sovereign, ownership underpins the regulation of special fissile materials by the Euratom Community in accordance with the Euratom Treaty.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Climate denialist group held fringe meeting in Poland, banning access by environmental reporter

As negotiators, campaigners, and policy wonks from across the world gather in Katowice, Poland, for the latest round of UN climate talks, so too have a small group of climate science deniers attempting to discredit those efforts.

DeSmog UK reporter Chloe Farand was denied press access to the fringe denier gathering, hosted by the Heartland Institute, which attracted a whopping 10 attendees for its five speakers.

While nations attempt to hammer out the “rulebook” for implementing the Paris Agreement in Katowice, greenwashing continues to be placed on full display, with coal literally on display and Polish coal companies serving as sponsors of the climate talks.

Watch for more of DeSmog’s on-the-ground reporting from the climate talks. We’re there to call out corporate capture and climate denial and elevate the voices of those most affected by climate change.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The negative legacy pf President George HW Bush

Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq,   Roaming Charges, Counter Punch, by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR, 7 Dec 18  

+ As the neoliberal establishment rushed to eulogize Poppy and lament the degeneracy of honor and ethics in American politics, let’s not forget that Bush’s fingerprints are all over the October Surprise of 1980, when emissaries from the Reagan campaign convinced the Iranians to delay the release of the hostages in Tehran until after the elections, an illegal meddling that almost certainly sealed the election of Ronald Reagan. This was a far more serious crime than than Michael Flynn’s calls to Sergei Kislyak.

+ National Cathedral in a Republic built on the of separation of church and state seems like a bad idea.

+ The legacy of Poppy Bush shows just how deadly bi-partisanship can be. Political gridlock saves lives.

+ Poppy Bush went to war on Iraq in 1990. It hasn’t ended yet…

+ 88,500 tons: amount of bombs, by weight, dropped on Iraq and Kuwait by Poppy Bush.

+ Mark Thiessen, a columnist at the Washington Post, encouraged all Americans to become “the nation George HW Bush wanted us to be.” How do we go about doing that? By setting up a Go Fund Me page for death squads in El Salvador?

+ As a general rule, the more guns fired off in a funeral salute, the more people the departed dignitary has killed.

+ Leave it to the “historian” Jon Meacham to deliver the rosiest and most distorted hagiography of Bush of the day. According to Meacham the “real” George Bush is the one who cried in Cracow in the presence of a child with leukemia and not, I presume, the George Bush whose DU bombs caused thousands of childhood leukemias in Iraq.

+ I didn’t find the odious Alan Simpson funny. If they really wanted comedy, the Bush family should have treated the nation to five minutes of Dan Quayle at the podium.

+ Simpson’s incessant quipping has always disguised the fact that he is one of the meanest bastards in DC.

+ Too bad Alex Cockburn wasn’t around to render his final judgment. Not on Poppy Bush, but on the two women he found himself so irresistibly attracted to: Marilyn Quayle and Laura Bush.

+ Cockburn on Bush at CIA: “Bush Sr., like JFK, sanctioned a Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean, and wilted under pressure from the [Scoop] Jackson Democrats, aka Military Industrial Complex. It was Bush who appointed the notorious “Team B” to contradict in-house CIA analyses suggesting the Soviet threat was not as fearsome as that depicted on the cartoon (aka editorial) page of the Wall Street Journal.”

+ More Cockburn on the Bushes: “Sr. arrived in Midland in 1948, later recalling that “We all just wanted to make a lot of money quick.” The time I interviewed her back in 1980, I thought Barbara Bush one of the meaner women I’d met in a long time.”

+ James Gibney (former US diplomat): “George W. Bush took another step on the road to national redemption with his address and its delivery.”

+ Those fizzing sounds in the background were the fonts of Holy Water beginning to boil when John Bolton and Dick Cheney entered the Cathedral…

Remind me of the first steps W. took on his road to redemption? Was it when he picked up a paintbrush or shared a candy with Michelle O?

+ Emmanuel Macron is probably despairing that he didn’t get an invite to Poppy’s funeral. Anything to get out of Paris before the yellow-vested san culottes storm the Elysée Palace…

+ Remember when George HW Bush called Michael Dukakis a “card-carrying member of the ACLU,” as if it was evidence of the Duke’s treachery against all the great things the Republic stands for. The best endorsement the ACLU has ever gotten.

+ Tim Shorrock: “A minister (Russell Levinson) who jokes about the US war against the Sandinistas during his eulogy for a dead president betrays the Christianity he is claiming to represent. How tawdry. There is nothing beautiful about empire.”

Last laugh: the Sandinistas are still here and George HW Bush is not.

+ Rev. Levinson: “Mission…..Accom-…uhm…no…Complete…yeah…Complete.”

+ Sorry, Rev., people didn’t forget “all President Bush did for us,” they are simply too overwhelmed by all he did to us…

+ Sitting in the second row at Bush’s funeral was Al Gore, the first politician to covertly use Willie Horton in a racially-motivated smear of Michael Dukakis, during the early (Gore didn’t last long) Democratic primaries in 1988. But Bush and his henchman, Lee Atwater, weaponized the Horton story with some of the most racist ads ever to air on network TV. The ads were sponsored by a group run by rightwing activist Floyd Brown. The name of his group? Citizens United.

+ As much as Trump enjoys maligning the Bush family, I’m sure his lawyers are closely scrutinizing Poppy’s pardons of the Iran/contra gang: Cap Weinberg, Elliott Abrams, Dewey Clarridge, Alan Fiers, Claire George and Robt. McFarlane…

+ Too bad Dan Rather isn’t there to reenact Poppy’s greatest victory (aside from bombing the hapless retreating Army snarled in traffic on the Highway of Death), when with Roger Ailes as his cornerman, Bush TKO’d Rather with a counterpunch accusing of him walking off the CBS set, then boasted on an open mic: “The bastard didn’t lay a glove on me.”. . . .(After his debate with Geraldine Ferraro, Bush bragged about “kicking a little ass tonight.”)

+ Thanks W. for the thrilling anecdote about James Baker messaging Poppy’s feet. But that begs the question: Who will rub Trump’s feet? Paulie? Pence? Miller?

+ Odd, that W. didn’t thank Poppy for the nanny he hired for him back in 2000, Dick Cheney…

+ W. joked that Poppy used to call him and Bill Clinton brothers with different mothers. I guess we finally know who Bill Clinton’s real father was …

+ The network commentators are now following Bush’s hearse as it winds its way to Andrews Airbase with the same attention to detail and narrative nuance that they gave to the OJ’s van on the 405.

+ Poppy named Jeb! and W. the executors of his estate. I guess he still didn’t trust Neil (Silverado S&L) Bush with the checkbook…

+ Disappointed that W. didn’t thank his dad for pulling those strings to get him out of Vietnam. This is the kind timely of confession that would spotlight the common ground in Washington, heal the country and bring the Bushes, Clintons and Trumps closer together.

+ With Trump not messing on the carpet at Poppy’s funeral and news that he is poised to nominate Bill Barr, GHWB’s former AG, to replace Sessions, the icy relationship between the Trumps and the Bushes seems to be thawing. The next thing you know Trump will be sharing hard candies and Diet Cokes with Laura and hanging one of Shrub’s paintings in the Lincoln Bedroom.

+ Barr, a fanatic proponent of the unitary theory of executive power, was the architect of Bush’s Iran/contra pardons.

+ Now that both families have spilled rivers of blood in the Middle East, I guess all is forgiven…

+ Another thing Bush and Trump share: both of their fathers were Nazi sympathizers, the difference being that while Fred attended solidarity rallies for the Nazis in New York, Prescott the Banker actually helped finance their rise to power.

+ The Washington Post’s slobbering eulogy for Bush praises Poppy’s “competence.” Competence? The man picked the male Sarah Palin as his VP running mate: Dan Quayle.

+ The Post’s editorial department also hailed Bush’s alleged “restraint.” Tell it to the 408 civilians who perished when Bush targeted the Amiriyah shelter in Baghdad with two “smart” bombs.

+ Chris Matthews keeps nattering on about how the Bush funeral was a showcase for “nobility in government.” I thought the point of the American Revolution was to expunge nobility from government?

+ Give me a raw Trump Tweet over this disingenuous froth any day…

December 10, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | 2 Comments

Donald Trump – ” It’s time to scrap the Paris climate accord


December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia tried to erase meaning of UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming  

Climate science on 1.5C erased at UN talks as US and Saudis step in Climate Home News,  08/12/2018In a moment of drama in Poland, countries closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming  By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen

Four big oil and gas producers blocked UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as a meeting in Poland descended into acrimony on Saturday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary. “This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying islands and coastal villages in the Arctic. But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45% by 2030……….

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

It was a long and emotional plenary meeting to mark the halfway point in a fortnight of negotiations.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talksfrom welcoming the most influential climate science report in years – and met backlash from a broad range of poor, developing and rich countries. The battle was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia wanted the final statement to merely “note” the UN science report on the effects of 1.5C rise in the global temperature. But a call that started with the alliance of small island states pushed to “welcome” the findings.

The plenary chair’s attempt to find a compromise fell flat, setting the scene for a big political fight when ministers arrive in Katowice next week.

And that wasn’t the only moment of drama on Saturday. Earlier in the day, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the Paris Agreement. “You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” one negotiator said.

The change will mean new proposals could come next week.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Russia, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

In 2014, Saudi Arabia tried to delete part of UN climate science report 

Saudis accused of deleting part of UN climate science report   Climate Home News 23/05/2014 British scientist expresses his surprise when parts of IPCC text were ‘mutilated’ at April meeting in Berlin By Ed King

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia attempted to mask their contribution to rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions during discussions at the UN’s most recent climate science meeting.

That’s the charge laid by John Broome, a British philosopher and economist at Oxford University, and contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report.

He’s not the first to make these accusations – that prize goes to Giovanni Baiocchi, an economist at the University of Maryland.

But Broome is the first to offer a compelling narrative of how the four–day Berlin meeting of IPCC Working Group 3 scientists in April unfolded.

In a detailed blog published on May 20 he says the ‘Summary for Policymakers’, a concise document that pulls together thousands of pages of work, was “mutilated” by government officials.

“The degree of compression in the SPM meant that every sentence counts. In drafting it, we authors each found ourselves defending our favourite sentences,” Broome writes.

“Some sections were cut to pieces because the different views of the delegations turned out to be irreconcilable.”

Broome contends that in the early hours of April 12, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia insisted that all figures showing emissions of greenhouse gas from countries classified by their “income group” were deleted. Other reports indicate China was also part of this push. ……..

Key summary

It should be stressed the SPM is the only part of the IPCC texts that receives this level of political interrogation or interference from governments – perhaps because they know it’s the only part most policymakers will read.

This can then form the basis of various negotiating positions at UN climate talks, which are heating up as a global emissions reduction deal scheduled to be signed off in December 2015 draws close.

The original findings remain untouched……..

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Idaho closure of nuclear-waste treatment plant to affect Hanford 8, 2018 With the Idaho treatment  not be economically feasible to bring in radioactive waste from other states.

The U.S. Department of Energy in documents made public this week said the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project that employs 650 workers will end next year.

Officials said workers are wrapping up processing 85,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste at the department’s 890-square-mile site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.

A $500 million treatment plant handles transuranic waste that includes work clothing, rags, machine parts and tools that have been contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says transuranic wastes take much longer to decay and are the most radioactive hazard in high-level waste after 1,000 years.

The Energy Department said that before the cleanup began, Idaho had the largest stockpile of transuranic waste of any of the agency’s facilities. Court battles between Idaho and the federal government culminated with a 1995 agreement requiring the Energy Department to clean up the Idaho site.

The Idaho treatment plant compacts the transuranic waste, making it easier to ship and put into long-term storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Federal officials this year floated the idea of keeping the $500 million treatment plant running in Idaho with waste from other states — mostly radioactive waste from the former nuclear weapons production area in Hanford.

With the Idaho treatment plant scheduled to shut down, it’s not clear how the transuranic waste at Hanford and other sites will be dealt with.

The Energy Department “will continue to work to ensure a path forward for packaging and certification of TRU (transuranic) waste at Hanford and other sites,” the agency said in the email to the AP.

Local officials and politicians generally supported the idea because of the good-paying jobs. The Snake River Alliance, an Idaho-based nuclear-watchdog group, said it had concerns the nuclear waste brought to Idaho would never leave.

A 38-page economic analysis the Department of Energy completed in August and released this week found “it does not appear to be cost effective due to packaging and transportation challenges in shipping waste” to Idaho.

“As work at the facility will continue into 2019, no immediate workforce impacts are anticipated,” the agency said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday. The Energy Department “recognizes the contribution of this facility and its employees to DOE’s cleanup mission and looks forward to applying the knowledge gained and experience of the workforce to other key activities at the Idaho site.”

The agency said it would also consider voluntary separation incentives for workers.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Public health and safety endangered by weakening The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB)

Nuclear safety groups criticize DOE order, BY MADDY HAYDEN / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER, , December 8th, 2018 SANTA FE, N.M. — Nuclear safety watchdog groups around the country are calling on the Department of Energy to rescind an order they fear will limit the board tasked with overseeing operations at some of the nation’s nuclear facilities and ultimately negatively affect safety at such facilities.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) has itself raised concerns over Order 140.1, “Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board,” put into place by the DOE in April.

The board held a second public hearing on the order in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28.

The DNFSB was created by Congress in 1988 to provide oversight and provide information to the public on safety issues at some DOE nuclear facilities.

“We are deeply concerned that Order 140.1 constrains crucial oversight activities of the DNFSB and thereby endangers public health and worker safety,” said Kathy Crandall Robinson of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability during the late-November hearing.

Chief among the concerns with the order, which the DOE says is aimed at “clarifying” the roles of the department and DNFSB, is language that limits formal DNFSB oversight to issues of public safety as those beyond facility boundaries.

The order, Robinson said, “threatens to send us on a glide path back to a careless era as if this were a time when safety concerns and dangers at nuclear weapons facilities are shrinking.”

“They are not,” she added, citing plans to ramp up plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Lydia Dennett of the non-partisan Project on Government Oversight expressed concerns over the reasoning behind the order’s implementation, namely that the decision was possibly driven by government contractors.

“This policy makes it easier for contractors to hide any information they don’t want to come to light,” she said.

The order stipulates the DNFSB may not talk to contractor employees without getting authorization from management and DOE, according to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability represents more than 30 organizations located near DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration sites around the country, including the Albuquerque-based Southwest Research Information Center.

Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center pointed out in a news release sent by the alliance a 2011 DNFSB report that identified fire hazards at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico.

Three years later, an underground fire caused the temporary closure of the facility.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

TOR-M2 air defense missile systems to protect Belarus nuclear power plant

December 2018 Global Defense Security army news industryPOSTED, 08 DECEMBER 2018  A battery of Tor-M2 SAM (Surface-To-Air defense missile system) produced by Concern Almaz-Antey will enter in service with the 1146th Guards surface-to-air missile regiment deployed near a Belarusian nuclear power plant, which is under construction, Major General Igor Golub, the commander of the Air and Air Defense Forces of the Belarusian Armed Forces, said.

“Russia will supply another battery of Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile systems soon. They will come in service with the 1146th Guards surface-to-air missile regiment,” the commander quoted by the Belorusskaya Voennaya Gazeta military newspaper said.

Previous reports said that Concern Almaz-Antey had handed over a shipment of Tor-M2 surface-to-air missiles to the Belarusian Defense Ministry ahead of time. They had been assembled a month ahead of schedule. Belarus has received the fifth SAM shipment.

The 1146th surface-to-air regiment was revived in Belarus in 2017. The four-battery regiment is armed with Tor-M2 surface-to-air missiles. It protects the Belarusian airspace in the northwest covering the Belarusian nuclear power station.

The Tor-M2 is an upgraded version of the Tor-M1 short-range air defense missile system. The TOR-M2/M2E is designed by the Russian Defense Company Almaz-Antey. The TOR-M2 / M2E is designed to destroy aircraft, helicopters, aerodynamic UAVs, guided missiles and other components of high precision weapons flying at medium, low and extremely low altitudes in adverse air and jamming environment. The Tor-M2 missile system can be mounted on wheeled or tracked chassis.

The Tor-M2 can simultaneously engage up to 48 processed targets and ten tracked targets.The TOR-M2 can engage a target at the range from 1,000 to 12,000 m and to an altitude from 10 to 10,000 m.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Belarus, safety | Leave a comment

December 9 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Xcel’s Pledge to Be Carbon-Free by 2050 Makes Good Business Sense” • Xcel Energy put out a pledge to be carbon-free by 2050. This is not just because Colorado and Minnesota lean to the left. It is something Fortune 500 companies favor also. And providing what people want is fundamental to what a […]

via December 9 Energy News — geoharvey

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Asterix and nuclear power — Beyond Nuclear International

The illegal magazines went viral before the internet

via Asterix and nuclear power — Beyond Nuclear International

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment