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Climate and Nuclear News This Week

In an extraordinary article in the New Yorker, Jonathan Franzen predicts that the climate apocalypse is now inevitable, and that main goal should preparation rather than prevention. He makes a persuasive argument, but has aroused the ire of climate scientists.

In nuclear news, the problem of Russia’s recent nuclear explosion lingers, as abandoned boats and beaches near the accident area are found to have high levels of radiation.   Also lingering are the catastrophic effects of radiation and chemical poisons unleashed on Iraq, with thorium, a product of depleted uranium decay, still causing birth defects.

Global catastrophe ever closer as nuclear arms race revs up.

‘All of us are in danger’: John Pilger delivers warning from Julian Assange.

UN warns on need for global action – treaty – as the world’s oceans are in dire trouble.

JAPAN.

RUSSIA. A small nuclear reactor was definitely the cause of the Russian missile engine explosion. Akademik Lomonosov — the first floating nuclear power stations – both a nuclear and a climate danger. Safety and security preparations for remote Prevek as floating nuclear power plant enters East Siberian Sea.

UKRAINE. The radioactive fallout from Chernobyl continues to impact lives.

USA.

CENTRAL AMERICA. Emigration from Central America is driven by climate change.

UK. UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) gives incorrect information on Calder Hall. County Council rejects plans for transport of Hinkley Point A nuclear wastes through Somerset. Nuclear power is uninsurable. Britain’s Sizewell C and Bradwell B are not done deals.

FRANCE. Europe’s record heat linked to climate change. Deaths in France. France pledges to press Iran to comply with nuclear deal.

BANGLADESH. Excessive costs of nuclear power for Bangladesh.

BELGIUM. No more room for Belgium’s nuclear waste .

CHINA. Nuclear waste problem to be explored by China, in giant underground lab.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Iraqui children contaminated by thorium – birth defects

“The destruction of a society”: First the U.S. invaded Iraq — then we left it poisoned      Scientist: Bombs, bullets and military hardware abandoned by U.S. forces have left Iraq “toxic for millennia”, Salon.com  DAVID MASCIOTRA  7 Sept 19  “………In your groundbreaking new research, you discover that the teeth of Iraqi children have 28 times more thorium if they live near a U.S. military base. What is the significance of that conclusion, and what does the presence of thorium indicate about a child’s health? What kinds of abnormalities and health problems will they experience?

The Iraqi population is potentially contaminated with depleted uranium decay products. Baby teeth are highly sensitive to environmental exposures. Such high levels of thorium simply suggest high exposure at an early age and potentially in utero.

We found uranium and thorium in these children’s teeth and hair. Uranium and thorium were also in the bone marrow of children, all of whom had severe birth defects. The magnitude of public contamination caused by these alpha-emitting radioactive compounds is a serious question to be answered. Our bone marrow data is still unpublished, but we hope to publish it separately.

Thorium is an alpha emitter and, once in the body, it can cause cancer and other anomalies. Impacts can vary depending on the timing and amount of exposure. Childhood leukemia, which has been rising in southern Iraq, is a verified outcome of thorium exposure.

In our study, children with high levels of thorium had multiple birth defects. Our studies show that, across Iraq, children exposed to U.S. war contamination suffer primarily from congenital heart defects and neural tube defects……. https://www.salon.com/2019/09/07/the-destruction-of-a-society-first-the-u-s-invaded-iraq-then-we-left-it-poisoned/

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Iraq, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Radioactive pollution of beaches and abandoned boats, following Russian nuclear explosion

Russian Nuclear Blast Debris Is Still Emitting Radiation, Reports Say, Moscow Times, Sep. 4, 2019 Journalists in northern Russia have measured high levels of radiation near two abandoned boats that were brought ashore following last month’s mysterious accident during a test at a military site that has raised international concerns and safety fears……

September 9, 2019 Posted by | environment, Russia | Leave a comment

Time to prepare for, not prevent, the climate apocalypse

What If We Stopped Pretending?

The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it. New Yorker, By Jonathan Franzen     8 Sept 19”  There is infinite hope,” Kafka tells us, “only not for us.” This is a fittingly mystical epigram from a writer whose characters strive for ostensibly reachable goals and, tragically or amusingly, never manage to get any closer to them. But it seems to me, in our rapidly darkening world, that the converse of Kafka’s quip is equally true: There is no hope, except for us.

I’m talking, of course, about climate change. The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.
If you care about the planet, and about the people and animals who live on it, there are two ways to think about this. You can keep on hoping that catastrophe is preventable, and feel ever more frustrated or enraged by the world’s inaction. Or you can accept that disaster is coming, and begin to rethink what it means to have hope.

Even at this late date, expressions of unrealistic hope continue to abound. Hardly a day seems to pass without my reading that it’s time to “roll up our sleeves” and “save the planet”; that the problem of climate change can be “solved” if we summon the collective will. Although this message was probably still true in 1988, when the science became fully clear, we’ve emitted as much atmospheric carbon in the past thirty years as we did in the previous two centuries of industrialization. The facts have changed, but somehow the message stays the same………

  Psychologically, this denial makes sense………  Other kinds of apocalypse, whether religious or thermonuclear or asteroidal, at least have the binary neatness of dying: one moment the world is there, the next moment it’s gone forever. Climate apocalypse, by contrast, is messy. It will take the form of increasingly severe crises compounding chaotically until civilization begins to fray. Things will get very bad, but maybe not too soon, and maybe not for everyone. Maybe not for me.
Some of the denial, however, is more willful. The evil of the Republican Party’s position on climate science is well known, but denial is entrenched in progressive politics, too, or at least in its rhetoric. The Green New Deal, the blueprint for some of the most substantial proposals put forth on the issue, is still framed as our last chance to avert catastrophe and save the planet, by way of gargantuan renewable-energy projects. Many of the groups that support those proposals deploy the language of “stopping” climate change, or imply that there’s still time to prevent it. Unlike the political right, the left prides itself on listening to climate scientists, who do indeed allow that catastrophe is theoretically avertable. But not everyone seems to be listening carefully. The stress falls on the word theoretically.

Our atmosphere and oceans can absorb only so much heat before climate change, intensified by various feedback loops, spins completely out of control. The consensus among scientists and policy-makers is that we’ll pass this point of no return if the global mean temperature rises by more than two degrees Celsius (maybe a little more, but also maybe a little less). The I.P.C.C.—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—tells us that, to limit the rise to less than two degrees, we not only need to reverse the trend of the past three decades. We need to approach zero net emissions, globally, in the next three decades.

This is, to say the least, a tall order. It also assumes that you trust the I.P.C.C.’s calculations. New research, described last month in Scientific American, demonstrates that climate scientists, far from exaggerating the threat of climate change, have underestimated its pace and severity. ………

the scenarios in which collective action averts catastrophe. The scenarios, which I draw from the prescriptions of policy-makers and activists, share certain necessary conditions.

The first condition is that every one of the world’s major polluting countries institute draconian conservation measures, shut down much of its energy and transportation infrastructure, and completely retool its economy.  ……. The actions taken by these countries must also be the right ones. Vast sums of government money must be spent without wasting it and without lining the wrong pockets. ….

Finally, overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. They must accept the reality of climate change and have faith in the extreme measures taken to combat it. They can’t dismiss news they dislike as fake. They have to set aside nationalism and class and racial resentments. They have to make sacrifices for distant threatened nations and distant future generations……

even if we can no longer hope to be saved from two degrees of warming, there’s still a strong practical and ethical case for reducing carbon emissions. In the long run, it probably makes no difference how badly we overshoot two degrees; once the point of no return is passed, the world will become self-transforming. In the shorter term, however, half measures are better than no measures. Halfway cutting our emissions would make the immediate effects of warming somewhat less severe, and it would somewhat postpone the point of no return. The most terrifying thing about climate change is the speed at which it’s advancing, the almost monthly shattering of temperature records. If collective action resulted in just one fewer devastating hurricane, just a few extra years of relative stability, it would be a goal worth pursuing.

In fact, it would be worth pursuing even if it had no effect at all. To fail to conserve a finite resource when conservation measures are available, to needlessly add carbon to the atmosphere when we know very well what carbon is doing to it, is simply wrong. Although the actions of one individual have zero effect on the climate, this doesn’t mean that they’re meaningless. Each of us has an ethical choice to make. ……

if you accept the reality that the planet will soon overheat to the point of threatening civilization, there’s a whole lot more you should be doing……

Every renewable-energy mega-project that destroys a living ecosystem—the “green” energy development now occurring in Kenya’s national parks, the giant hydroelectric projects in Brazil, the construction of solar farms in open spaces, rather than in settled areas—erodes the resilience of a natural world already fighting for its life. Soil and water depletion, overuse of pesticides, the devastation of world fisheries—collective will is needed for these problems, too, and, unlike the problem of carbon, they’re within our power to solve. As a bonus, many low-tech conservation actions (restoring forests, preserving grasslands, eating less meat) can reduce our carbon footprint as effectively as massive industrial changes.

All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was winnable. Once you accept that we’ve lost it, other kinds of action take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities.  ……. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-if-we-stopped-pretending?source=EDT_NYR_EDIT_NEWSLETTER_0_imagenewsletter_Daily_ZZ&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_090819&utm_medium=email&bxid=5bea00ac3f92a404693b7a69&cndid=46508601&esrc=&mbid=&utm_term=TNY_Daily

September 9, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Europe’s record heat linked to climate change. Deaths in France

RECORD HEAT WAVE LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE KILLED 1,500 PEOPLE IN FRANCE THIS SUMMER, NEWSWEEK, BY JASON LEMON ON 9/8/19  HEAT WAVES THAT PLAGUED FRANCE THIS SUMMER LEFT SOME 1,500 PEOPLE DEAD, ACCORDING TO THE EUROPEAN NATION’S HEALTH MINISTER.

Agnes Buzyn explained on France Inter radio on Sunday that there had been at about 1,000 more deaths than normal during the summer months, with half of the deceased being 75 or older, the French newspaper Le Monde reported. In total, she said there were 18 exceptionally hot days recorded in France during June and July.

Although the number of deaths was high, Buzyn also pointed out that it was much lower than the 15,000 deaths that occurred during scorching summer heat wave back in 2003. The minister attributed the lower death toll in 2019 to a successful public awareness campaign.

“We have succeeded — thanks to prevention, thanks to workable messages the French population heeded — to reduce fatalities by a factor of 10,” she said, according to the Associated Press.

Paris, the French capital, experienced its hottest day ever recorded in July, with the temperature soaring above 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The previous record, documented in 1947, was just under 105 degrees.

Elsewhere in Europe, multiple countries recorded exceptionally hot summer temperatures as scientists pointed to the growing global impact of climate change.

In Germany, the temperature nearly hit 107 and in the Netherlands it narrowly surpassed 105 back in July. In Belgium, the temperature soared above 104, which was a new record as well. In fact, all three countries broke their hottest-ever recorded temperature records twice within 24 hours, British newspaper The Guardian reported at the time…….

A study conducted by a team of European scientists linked the intense heat wave directly to man-made climate change……..  https://www.newsweek.com/summer-heat-wave-climate-change-killed-1500-france-1458205

September 9, 2019 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

The radiation poisoning of Iraq lingers on

“The destruction of a society”: First the U.S. invaded Iraq — then we left it poisoned      Scientist: Bombs, bullets and military hardware abandoned by U.S. forces have left Iraq “toxic for millennia”, Salon.com  DAVID MASCIOTRA  7 Sept 19

The political and moral culture of the United States allows for bipartisan cooperation to destroy an entire country, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process, without even the flimsiest of justification. Then, only a few years later, everyone can act as if it never happened.

In 2011, the U.S. withdrew most of its military personnel from Iraq, leaving the country in ruins. Estimates of the number of civilians who died during the war in Iraq range from 151,000 to 655,000. An additional 4,491 American military personnel perished in the war. Because the bombs have stopped falling from the sky and the invasion and occupation of Iraq no longer makes headlines, Americans likely devote no thought to the devastation that occurred in their name.

With the exception of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is currently polling at or below 2 percent, no candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination has consistently addressed the criminality, cruelty and cavalier wastefulness of American foreign policy. Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race, not only supported the war in Iraq — despite his recent incoherent claims to the contrary — but as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee acted as its most effective and influential salesman in the Democratic Party.

The blasé attitude of America toward the death and destruction it creates, all while boasting of its benevolence, cannot withstand the scrutiny of science. Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan and recipient of the Rachel Carson Prize, has led several investigative expeditions in Iraq to determine how the pollutants and toxic chemicals from the U.S.-led war are poisoning Iraq’s people and environment. The health effects are catastrophic, and will remain so long after the war reached its official end.

previously interviewed Savabieasfahani about her initial research, and recently acquired an update regarding her team’s latest discovery that there is a close correlation between proximity to a U.S. military base and birth defects in Iraqi children.

Average Americans, even many who opposed the war in Iraq, seem to believe that once the military campaign is over the casualties of war stop accumulating. What is the purpose of your general research regarding the toxicity of the Iraqi environment resulting from American bombs, munitions and other materials? How does the American invasion and occupation continue to adversely affect the health of Iraqis?

Bombs and bullets have been used on an extreme scale in Iraq. Dropping tons of bombs and releasing millions of bullets leaves toxic residues the in air, water and soil of the targeted population. These pollutants continue to poison those populations years after the bombing stops

What’s more, the United States imported thousands of tons of military equipment into Iraq to use in their occupation. They include, tanks, trucks, bombers, armored vehicles, infantry weapons, antiaircraft systems, artillery and mortars — some of which are coated with depleted uranium, and much more. These eventually find their way into U.S. military junkyards which remain across Iraq.

There are unknown numbers of military junkyards scattered across the Iraqi landscape.

Fluctuations in temperature facilitates the rusting and weathering of military junk, releasing toxic pollutants [including radioactive uranium compounds, neurotoxic lead and mercury, etc.] into the Iraqi environment.

Uranium and its related compounds remain toxic for millennia and poison local populations through food, air and water contamination.

The exposure of pregnant mothers to the pollutions of war, including uranium and thorium, irreversibly damages their unborn children. We found thorium, a product of depleted uranium decay, in the hair of Iraqi children with birth defects who lived in Nasiriyah and Ur City, near a U.S. military base. 

The destruction of a society does not stop after U.S. bombs stop falling. Environmental contamination which the U.S. leaves behind continues to destroy our environment and poison our people decades after the bombs have stopped falling. The U.S. has a long history of irreversibly destroying human habitats. That must end…….

Forty-four years after U.S. forces left Vietnam, there are still Vietnamese babies born with birth defects from the American military’s use of Agent Orange. How long do you believe Iraqis will continue to suffer from the American-led war?

If left unmitigated, the population will be permanently exposed to elevated toxic exposures which can impact the Iraqi gene pool.

Through the use of the scientific method, you are gaining the ability to identify a severe problem in Iraq. Considering that the problem is a result of the U.S. invasion, what could the U.S. do to solve or at least mitigate the problem?

The U.S. must be held responsible and forced to clean up all the sites which it has polluted. Technology exists for the cleanup of radiation contamination. The removal and disposal of U.S.-created military junkyards would go a long way towards cleaning toxic releases out of the Iraqi environment.

You are a scientist, not a political analyst, but you must have some thoughts regarding the political implications of your work. How do you react to the lack of substantive conversation about the consequences of war in American politics and the press, and the American establishment’s evasion of responsibility on this issue?

I expect nothing from the American political establishment or their propaganda machines which masquerade as “news media” and feed uncritically off State Department press briefings.

Fortunately, there is a movement to criminalize environmental contamination caused by war. Damage to nature and the human environment must be considered a war crime.

Scientists are currently asking international lawmakers to adopt a fifth Geneva Convention which would recognize damage to nature as a war crime, alongside other war crimes. I hope that will make a difference in our ability to protect human lives and our environment. ……  https://www.salon.com/2019/09/07/the-destruction-of-a-society-first-the-u-s-invaded-iraq-then-we-left-it-poisoned/

September 9, 2019 Posted by | environment, Iraq, radiation, social effects, USA | Leave a comment