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Sharing News From Fallujah

I used to see maybe one or two cases per month,’ she explained.

In the last month, Alani said she had documented around 33 cases of birth defects and 35 the month before.

Justice For the Babies of Fallujah

I have neglected this blog and for that I am sorry.  I’ve been wrapped up in personal issues (moved far away over the summer). But the images of the babies always haunt me, and as always I feel helpless to help in any way, except to share any bit of news that I can.

So I am grateful to have seen this article on Facebook about the current situation in Fallujah.

It features Dr. Samira Alani who I have written about many times in the pages of this blog. From the above article:

“Alani said that the lack of a clear registration system meant that there were no official statistics before 2003 on the number of birth defects emerging in Fallujah, and so she could only go by her own experience.

‘We noticed that there are many, many cases that we didn’t see before. I have been working in this…

View original post 139 more words

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear power allows climate change to speed up, while renewables are faster, cheaper, and more efficient

In sum, the nuclear industry seeks its own sales arrangements protected from competition, its own prices determined by political processes rather than markets, and diminished opportunities for its carbon-free competitors to express their value, reach their customers, and discover their own prices. This could be good for compliant legislators’ campaign contributions, but hardly in the national interest or helpful for climate protection.

If you haven’t heard this view before, it’s not because it wasn’t published in reputable venues over several decades, but rather because the nuclear industry, which holds the microphone, is eager that you not hear it. Many otherwise sensible analysts and journalists have not properly reported this issue. Few political leaders understand it either. But by the end of this article, I hope you will.

to protect the climate, we must save the most carbon at the least cost and in the least time, counting all three variables—carbon and cost and time. Costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection.

anti-market monkeybusiness cannot indefinitely forestall the victory of cheaper competitors, but it can delay and diminish climate protection while transferring tens of billions of unearned dollars from taxpayers and customers to nuclear owners.

Does Nuclear Power Slow Or Speed Climate Change? Forbes  Amory B. Lovins-18 Nov 19, Most U.S. nuclear power plants cost more to run than they earn. Globally, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2019 documents the nuclear enterprise’s slow-motion commercial collapse—dying of an incurable attack of market forces. Yet in America, strong views are held across the political spectrum on whether nuclear power is essential or merely helpful in protecting the Earth’s climate—and both those views are wrong.

 In fact, building new reactors, or operating most existing ones, makes climate change worse compared with spending the same money on more-climate-effective ways to deliver the same energy services.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, renewable | Leave a comment

USA Democrats question Dan Brouillette, (Next DOE Secretary) on nuclear and coal

Trump energy pick faces questions on coal, nuclear power,Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) 17 Nov 19- President Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Energy Department faced questions on emissions from energy operations and the future of nuclear power at his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but was greeted warmly by senators from both parties who want to see him quickly confirmed.

Dan Brouillette, 57, a former lobbyist at Ford Motor Co and Louisiana state energy regulator, would replace Rick Perry, who has said he is stepping down on Dec. 1.

Perry became known as one of the “three amigos” in a side-channel Ukraine policy led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that has been at the center of the Trump impeachment probe. ……

Brouillette, currently the department’s deputy secretary, faced questions from Manchin and Senator Ron Wyden, another Democrat, about his involvement in Ukraine. But Brouillette said his involvement was strictly about how U.S. energy supplies could help the country, and that he was not in any of the conversations being probed in the U.S. House. …….

Brouillette told Republican senators from Wyoming and Louisiana that he supports technology on curbing climate change by capturing and storing underground carbon dioxide from coal and natural gas facilities, adding that fossil fuels would power a large portion of global energy needs for the next 40 to 50 years……

Brouillette also said he wants to support development of advanced nuclear power plants, hopefully one day bringing microreactors that provide relatively small amounts of power to remote places like rural Louisiana, where he was born, to Alaska……

Democratic senators not on the Energy Committee, including Ed Markey and Tim Kaine, sent Brouillette a letter on Wednesday asking whether he supported nonproliferation standards in any deal on sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia, a question he will likely continue to face if he is confirmed.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney and Tom Brown

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As negotiation deadline nears, tension between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump

Trump, Kim at odds as deadline looms in nuclear talks, Glen Carey and Jihye Lee, Bloomberg, November 18, 2019 

The bonhomie between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is nearing a key deadline showing new signs of strain.

Trump urged Kim over the weekend to “act quickly” to get a nuclear deal done, suggesting the two leaders could meet again “soon.” His comments came hours after North Korea ruled out nuclear talks without a policy change by the U.S. and reported on a military drill observed by Kim himself.

Veteran North Korea nuclear adviser, Kim Kye Gwan, told Trump that Pyongyang will no longer give him “things to boast about,” the state’s official KCNA news agency on Monday quoted him as saying. He added North Korea is no longer interested in talks that the U.S. “uses to buy time.”

Trump and Kim Jong Un, who have previously displayed what Pyongyang calls “mysteriously wonderful chemistry,” appear to be going in different directions as the clock ticks down. Kim has given Trump until the end of the year to ease up on sanctions or risk him taking a “new path,” meaning a possible escalation of military tensions during the U.S. presidential campaign…….

After more than a year of talks and three Trump-Kim meetings, the two sides remain divided on issues from sanctions relief to disarmament. Even though North Korea hasn’t taken any major steps to give up its weapons, Kim has won concessions from Trump that include canceling some U.S.-South Korean joint military drills that have drawn Pyongyang’s anger.

North Korea hasn’t explained what Kim intends to do on his “new path,” although the regime has often referred to his decision to halt tests of nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles two years ago. In May, North Korea resumed tests of shorter-range ballistic missiles.,,,,,,,

The North Korea warning about U.S. nuclear talks came despite the U.S.’s decision to suspend another round of military drills with South Korea. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on the sidelines of a regional security conference that Washington and Seoul had “jointly decided to postpone this month’s combined flying training event” after “close consultation and careful consideration.”

Pyongyang last week blamed U.S.-South Korean military drills “as a main factor of screwing up tensions.”

November 18, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

The emerging potential new nuclear industry political scam

an emerging potential scam that could end up with ratepayers’ and federal taxpayers’ getting stuck with vast decommissioning and waste-management liabilities.
Does Nuclear Power Slow Or Speed Climate Change? Forbes,  Amory B. Lovins 17 Nov 19, 
“……….The previous six forms of payment were:1.     Taxpayers paid to create the nuclear industry, build its fueling infrastructure, and finance the reactor fleet via a vast array of often opaque and generally permanent federal subsidies that cost more than building the plants and more than the value of their output.

2.     Through generally regulated utility tariffs, customers paid for the plants’ construction and financing, including a just and reasonable return on capital.

3.     Customers paid over decades for the plants’ operation, including major repairs, power upratings, and safety upgrades.

4.     Many customers reimbursed owners for “stranded-asset costs” totaling upwards of $70 billion to support the owner-demanded transition to competitive wholesale markets.

5.     Over the past few years, when reactors generating 2 percent of U.S. electricity proved unable to compete in those wholesale markets (though most of their owners kept their finances secret and kept reporting profits to investors), the owners persuaded state legislators in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Ohio to vote billions of dollars a year for new multi-year operating subsidies.

6.     Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear operator and the leading player in the previous two steps, successfully sought Federal regulatory approval for greater capacity payments from power pools whose auctions found nuclear power uncompetitive and whose own rules were thrown off-balance by the new state subsidies. And now, as the annual logrolling season of “tax extenders” rolls around in Congress:

7.     For the third year, Exelon is advancing a “Nuclear Powers America Act” to create a new federal investment tax credit on nuclear fuel and maintenance expenses to “help level the playing fuel with other clean energy sources”—whose temporary tax credits are meanwhile being phased down or out. This follows a longstanding pattern of giving different kinds of subsidies to renewables than to nuclear, then “leveling the playing field” by trying to duplicate renewables’ specific forms of subsidies with new ones for nuclear, but never the reverse.

This saga of selling the same hay seven times—and those clever lawyers aren’t done yet—doesn’t include many additional federal and state subsidies. It also doesn’t include an emerging potential scam that could end up with ratepayers’ and federal taxpayers’ getting stuck with vast decommissioning and waste-management liabilities. This emerging pattern has an LLC buy a closed reactor. Absent oversight or rules to stop misbehavior, the LLC could then choose to strip the accumulated customer-funded multi-billion-dollar cash decommissioning fund, not finish the job, and walk away, leaving the parent company whole and electricity customers or taxpayers holding the bag. Watch this space.

Exelon’s proposed “nuclear investment tax credit” has ingenious new features:

–         By redefining normal accounting categories so fuel becomes a capital investment, it repays utilities for an “investment” that’s really just a normal operating cost—thus trying to make nuclear operating costs look small by shifting much of them to taxpayers.

The nuclear operating costs it covers have no counterpart for renewables (fuel, nuclear waste management, protection against catastrophic releases of radioactivity), or almost none (operation & maintenance costs), so a tax credit for them would specifically advantage nuclear against renewables.

–         Nuclear owners may be able to double-dip, collecting the new federal subsidy and new state subsidies for the same plants and thus turning dead dinosaurs into juicy cash cows.

–         There’s virtually no “means test”: the new federal subsidy would apply to about 95% of US operating reactors, including those that the industry claims are currently profitable.

–         The proposed legislation, obscurely written in tax-law jargon, appears to be a 30% tax credit (phasing down to 26% in 2024, 22% in 2025, and a permanent 10% in and after 2026), and to cost ~$22–26 billion over the first decade, or ~$33 billion counting the crowding-out of cheaper competitors. Every billion dollars thus bilked from taxpayers is unavailable to provide more electrical services and save more carbon by cheaper means.

–         By further distorting the delicate balance between federal, regional, and state regulation, the subsidy seems tailored to weaken or destroy the efficient regional power markets where renewables beat nuclear power. The goal is thus to pay nuclear power for values it doesn’t deliver, while blocking its most potent competitors from continuing to provide the values they do deliver.

–         Unlike renewable credits that have helped to mature important new technologies, the nuclear credit would elicit no new production, capacity, or innovation. It would simply transfer tens of billions of dollars to the owners of uncompetitive nuclear assets bought decades ago—if they apply for license extension by 2026, as nearly all have done.

This covert attack on renewables is logical because renewables are now the supply-side competitor nuclear must beat but can’t. The nuclear industry is reluctant to admit that renewables are a legitimate competitor, since this would contradict its claims that renewables can’t supply reliable power. Renewables, unlike nuclear power, are also widely popular. Nuclear advocates therefore tend to blame their woes instead on cheap natural gas. However, new and often even existing combined-cycle gas-fired power plants no longer have a business case: a September 2019 study found that at least 90% of the 88 proposed US gas-fired plants are pre-stranded assets. ………

November 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s METI says it’s safe to dump radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear disaster into ocean

Japan’s METI says it’s safe to dump radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear disaster into ocean,, KYODO, NOV 18, 2019

The industry ministry said Monday it would be safe to release water contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the ocean, stressing that on an annual basis the amount of radiation measured near the release point would be very small compared to levels to which humans are naturally exposed.

Discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean over the course of a year would amount to between just one-1,600th and one-40,000th of the radiation to which humans are naturally exposed, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, or METI, told a government subcommittee on the issue.

Water used to cool the melted-down cores and groundwater from close to the damaged plant contain some radioactive materials, and are currently being collected and stored in tanks on the plant grounds.

But space is running out fast, and the government is exploring ways to deal with the waste water — which already totals more than 1 million tons with the volume increasing by more than 100 tons every day.

According to an estimate performed by the ministry, annual radiation levels near the release point after a release would be between 0.052 and 0.62 microsievert at sea, and 1.3 microsieverts in the atmosphere, compared with the 2,100 microsieverts that humans come into contact with each year in daily life.

One member of the subcommittee called on the ministry to provide detailed data showing the impact of different conditions such as ocean currents and weather.

Another member requested more information on the amount of radiation that people will be exposed to internally, depending on how much fish and seaweed they consume.

The waste water is currently being treated using an advanced liquid processing system referred to as ALPS, though the system does not remove tritium and has been found to leave small amounts of other radioactive materials.

The tanks storing the water are expected to become full by the summer of 2022, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The plant was damaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.

While government officials stress the safety of releasing the waste water, local fishermen are opposed to discharging it into the ocean due to worries that it would cause reputational damage and impact their livelihoods.

South Korea has also expressed concern over the environmental impact.

In September, Japanese and South Korean officials traded barbs over the issue at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

A nuclear expert from the IAEA said in 2018 that a controlled discharge of such contaminated water “is something which is applied in many nuclear facilities, so it is not something that is new.”

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan, water | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C nuclear, a super-expensive project for a dubious short term gain

This is the West Country 17th Nov 2019, Stop Hinkley spokesman Roy Pumfrey questions whether the economic boost from Hinkley C is worth the cost   I get tired of reading how easily impressed councillors are when they visit the giant incomplete building site that is HPC.
Why does Cllr Ann Bown assume that we all think the
“biggest economic boost” is necessarily a good thing when it is also hugely
problematic and costly for anyone not directly involved? In our case,
economic growth also means a host of problems. There are more traffic jams
all around gridlocked Bridgwater. I’d like to travel from Bridgwater to
Taunton using the Taunton Road, but that simply adds 30 minutes to the
journey time.
Air and light pollution (if you live on the ‘Dark Side’ of the Quantocks, try a trip to a summit on a cloudy evening to see what I mean) have increased as a result of HPC. Rents, particularly of one-bedroom properties anywhere close to the HPC bus routes, have gone sky high due to well-paid HPC contractors and one wonders what the seven hotels built or in the pipeline will become after the HPC Gold Rush is history.
And it will be electricity consumers from Lands End to John O Groats who will have to fund this excessively expensive project to the tune of around £50bn over the next 35 years. That assumes that HPC ever works, unlike its sister reactors in Finland and France, both massively over-budget and years behind
Instead of uncritically absorbing EDF’s spin on the project, councillors and council officers should be asking EDF why they pretended for over a year that all was going well when, in fact, they must have known that ‘challenging ground conditions’ and ‘bad weather’ meant that the cost was rising by another £2.9billion and further delay was inevitable.
A massive house retrofit programme across the south-west, for instance, would also be a big economic boost for the region, but a much more sustainable investment with the benefits accruing to ordinary consumers.
When Cllr Bown has finished closing her eyes to the problems Hinkley C poses and taking in pro-nuclear fantasies, perhaps she can open
\ them to the reality of the massive hazard an untried new nuclear power
station running adjacent to her constituency represents.
Building a new  nuclear power station with a sixty year life span on a vulnerable coastline with the latest concerns about sea level rise is a gamble. People need to think about the legacy being left for their grandchildren before talking about ‘progress’ and short term ‘economic boosts’.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

20% drop in patient’s radiation dose achieved by U.S. radiologists

November 18, 2019 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

A new dangerous period of nuclear weapons rivalry

The Coming Nuclear Crises, Nov 18, 2019 RICHARD N. HAASS   We are entering a new and dangerous period in which nuclear competition or even use of nuclear weapons could again become the greatest threat to global stability. Less certain is whether today’s leaders are up to meeting this emerging challenge.
NEW YORK – Until just a few years ago, it looked as if the problem posed by nuclear weapons had been successfully managed, if not solved. American and Russian nuclear stockpiles had been reduced substantially from their Cold War highs, and arms-control agreements were in place that limited both intermediate- and long-range systems. But all of this now could come undone.
Progress over the last generation was not limited to the United States and Russia. Libya was persuaded to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Israel thwarted Iraqi and Syrian nuclear development, and South Africa relinquished its small nuclear arsenal. Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which constrained its ability to acquire many of the essential prerequisites of nuclear weapons. Most recently, the UN Security Council imposed tough sanctions aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its still modest and comparatively primitive nuclear weapons program, clearing the way for high-level talks between North Korean and US officials. And, of course, no nuclear weapon has been used in combat for three-quarters of a century, since the US dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan to hasten the end of World War II.

This past summer, however, the US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty after it concluded Russia had violated the INF’s terms. The treaty limiting longer-range US and Russian nuclear weapons will expire in 2021 unless it is extended, and it is not clear that it will be: both countries are committing substantial resources to modernize their existing arsenals.

Moreover, by exiting the JCPOA the US has heightened the risks stemming from Iran. The accord, concluded in 2015, was imperfect. In particular, many of its most significant constraints would last only 10-15 years, and the agreement did not limit Iran’s ballistic-missile development. But it did place a ceiling on Iranian nuclear activity and allowed for international inspections. By all accounts, Iran was honoring its provisions.

Now, however, Iran has begun a slow but steady process of getting out from under many of the agreement’s limits. It may be doing this to persuade the US and Europe to ease economic sanctions. It may also be calculating that these steps could dramatically reduce the time it would need to produce nuclear weapons without being attacked. But it is at least as likely that Iran’s actions will lead the US, or more probably Israel, to undertake a preventive strike designed to destroy a significant part of its program.

Such a strike could lead several other regional powers, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, to develop or acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Turkey, increasingly estranged from many of its allies, has suggested that it may choose to develop nuclear weapons regardless of what Iran does.
North Korea is far ahead of Iran: it already has several dozen nuclear weapons and missiles, has tested missiles that can reach the US, and is developing submarine-launched nuclear weapons. The notion that North Korea will agree to give up its weapons and “denuclearize” is fanciful. Its leader, Kim Jong-un, believes that only nuclear weapons can ensure his regime’s survival, a belief understandably strengthened by the experience of Ukraine, which accepted security guarantees in exchange for giving up the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union, only to be invaded by Russia 25 years later.
One risk is that North Korea will over the next few years come to possess a significant arsenal that will pose a meaningful threat to the US. Another is that North Korea’s neighbors, including South Korea and Japan, will determine that they, too, need nuclear weapons given the North Korean threat and their diminished confidence in the reliability of the US and its guarantees to protect them with its nuclear forces.
The danger in both regions is that a race to acquire nuclear weapons could trigger a preventive war. Even if such a war were avoided, the presence of multiple nuclear arsenals would increase the temptation for one or more countries to strike first in a crisis. “Use them or lose them” has the potential to become a recipe for instability and conflict when capabilities are not sufficiently robust to absorb an attack and still be able to mete out the sort of devastating retaliation essential for effective deterrence.
As if all this were not enough, India and Pakistan, two countries with a long history of bilateral conflict, are both nuclear powers. Nuclear deterrence cannot be assumed. It is all too easy to imagine a Pakistani-supported terrorist attack leading to Indian retaliation, which in turn could prompt Pakistan to threaten using nuclear weapons, because its conventional military forces cannot compete with those of India. There is also the possibility that the command and control of weapons could break down and one or more devices could find their way into the hands of terrorists. 
It is close to 60 years since a young presidential candidate named John F. Kennedy predicted that as many as 20 countries could achieve nuclear-weapons capability by the end of 1964. Fortunately, Kennedy was proven wrong, and the number of countries with nuclear weapons is still nine. The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has proven quite robust, in part because it is buttressed by efforts to prevent the export of critical technologies, arms control, sanctions, and the strength of alliances, which reduces the need for countries to become self-reliant.
But with nuclear technology increasingly available, arms control unraveling amid renewed great power rivalry, weakened alliances as the US pulls back from the world, and fading memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are entering a new and dangerous period. Nuclear competition or even use of nuclear weapons could again become the greatest threat to global stability. Less certain is whether today’s leaders are up to meeting this emerging challenge.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Confusion in UK over Jeremy Corbyn’s nuclear weapons policy

What is Jeremy Corbyn’s nuclear weapons policy? The Week, Nov 18, 2019   Labour leader has been quizzed again on future of Trident. Jeremy Corbyn’s position on nuclear weapons is back in the headlines after he refused to rule out scrapping Trident as part of a post-election deal with the Scottish National Party.

Asked on The Andrew Marr Show whether he would scrap Trident, the Labour leader said: “I think the SNP would actually agree with me… that the priority has to be giving realism to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, giving realism to the six-party talks in Korea, giving realism to the whole question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Pressed further on the matter, he replied: “Obviously if you went into non-proliferation treaty discussions then clearly every country’s nuclear weapons go into that equation.” …….

November 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

This week in climate/nuclear news

This is a bit more boring than usual, as, apart from the Australian bushfires, not many climate and nuclear events have been in the news this week.

A new book brings the nuclear and climate threats together in a scary warning. In The Plutocene: Blueprints for a post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth, Andrew Glikson considers a future scenario where nuclear war, radioactive pollution, and global heating combine to produce a new era. He urges a range of tactics to avert this gloomy future.

S and P Global Ratings has made it plain: nuclear power can survive only with massive tax-payer support.

A bit of good news –  Ocean Cleanup Makes History by Successfully Collecting First Plastic From Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Climate change is a health emergency – physicians.

World Nuclear Waste Report.   Dangerous radioactive hot particles span the globe.    Still no country for old nuclear waste. Tritium and other radionuclides are hazardous,even in transport and storage.

Will Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarines make nuclear submarines relatively obsolete?

400,000 insect species face extinction.

ICELAND. In framing Julian Assange, The FBI tried to make Iceland complicit.

MARSHALL ISLANDS. U.S. won’t clean up Marshall Islands nuclear waste dome but wants it free of anti-U.S. graffiti.  Nuclear tomb: The Runit Dome is chipping and cracking. The climate crisis tied up in the dangers of nuclear weapons in ways that nobody predicted

UK. Jeremy Corbyn could scrap UK’s nuclear weapons, in deal with Scottish National Party. A UK Labour govt would make ‘collective’ decision over use of nuclear weapons? Boris Johnson and the unlikely future for small nuclear reactors.  Likely delay in clean-up of radioactive contamination at Dalgety Beach. New type of uranium nuclear fuel has safety risks.


JAPAN. Fukushima: Japan’s government has not solved its many technical, economic, and socio-political problems. The plight of Fukushima nuclear workers getting leukaemia.  As Fukushima food export barriers fall, Japan aims to persuade ChinaPope Francis, visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, wants a total ban on nuclear weapons.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea issues warning on nuclear negotiations deadline. US- North Korea negotiations may be revived.

EUROPE. European Union struggles to preserve Iran nuclear deal.

CHINA. China General Nuclear Power Group to invest $2.5 billion into a huge solar project – plus 2 GW of wind turbines.

BULGARIA. Bulgaria nuclear reactor capacity reduced over generator malfunction.

RUSSIA. Nuclear-Powered Aircraft failed for both USA and Soviets.

AFRICA. The push for nuclear power in Africa, but what happens to the wastes? Africa has fourfold growth potential with renewable energy plan.

FRANCE. France extends nuclear reactors outage after earthquake. France considering building 6 new EDF nuclear reactors at a cost of at least 46 billion euros ($51 billion).

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | 3 Comments

The “Plutocene” danger – nuclear war, radioactive pollution, global heating

if we don’t take urgent action to defend our planet, life as we know it will not be able to continue. 

Why are these two facts related? Because they illustrate the two factors that could transport us beyond the Anthropocene—the geological epoch marked by humankind’s fingerprint on the planet—and into yet another new, even more hostile era of our own making.

My new book, titled The Plutocene: Blueprints for a post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth, describes the future world we are on course to inhabit, now that it has become clear that we are still busy building nuclear weapons rather than working together to defend our planet.

have coined the term Plutocene to describe a post-Anthropocene period marked by a plutonium-rich sedimentary layer in the oceans. The Anthropocene is very short, having begun (depending on your definition) either with the Industrial Revolution in about 1750, or with the onset of nuclear weapons and sharply rising greenhouse emissions in the mid-20th century. The future length of the Plutocene would depend on two factors: the half-life of radioactive plutonium-239 of 24,100 years, and how long our CO2 will stay in the atmosphere—potentially up to 20,000 years.

During the Plutocene, temperatures would be much higher than today. Perhaps they would be similar to those during the Pliocene (2.6 million to 5.3 million years ago), when average temperatures were about 2℃ above those of pre-industrial times, or the Miocene (roughly 5.3 million to 23 million years ago), when average temperatures were another 2℃ warmer than that, and sea levels were 20 to 40 meters (65-131ft) higher than today.

Under these conditions, population and farming centres in low coastal zones and river valleys would be inundated, and humans would be forced to seek higher latitudes and altitudes to survive—as well as potentially having to contend with the fallout of nuclear conflict. The most extreme scenario is that evolution takes a new turn—one that favors animals best equipped to withstand heat and radiation.

Climates past

While we have a range of tools for studying prehistoric climates, including ice cores and tree rings, these methods do not of course tell us what the future holds.

However, the basic laws of physics, the principles of climate science, and the lessons from past and current climate trends, help us work out the factors that will dictate our future climate.

Broadly speaking, the climate is shaped by three broad factors: trends in solar cycles; the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases; and intermittent events such as volcanic eruptions or asteroid impacts.

Solar cycles are readily predicted, and indeed can be seen in the geological record, whereas intermittent events are harder to account for. The factor over which we have the most control is our own greenhouse emissions.

CO2 levels have previously climbed as high as 2,000 parts per million (ppm), most recently during the early Eocene, roughly 55-45 million years ago. The subsequent decline of CO2 levels to just a few hundred parts per million then cooled the planet, creating the conditions that allowed Earth’s current inhabitants (much later including humans) to flourish.

But what of the future? Based on these observations, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), several projections of future climates indicate an extension of the current interglacial period by about 30,000 years, consistent with the longevity of atmospheric CO2.

If global warming were to reach 4℃, as suggested by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the German government, the resulting amplification effects on the climate would pose an existential threat both to nature and human civilization.

Barring effective sequestration of carbon gases, and given amplifying feedback effects from the melting of ice sheets, warming of oceans, and drying out of land surfaces, Earth is bound to reach an average of 4℃ above pre-industrial levels within a time frame to which numerous species, including humans, may hardly be able to adapt. The increase in evaporation from the oceans and thereby water vapor contents of the atmosphere leads to mega-cyclones, mega-floods and super-tropical terrestrial environments. Arid and semi-arid regions would become overheated, severely affecting flora and fauna habitats.

The transition to such conditions is unlikely to be smooth and gradual, but may instead feature sharp transient cool intervals called “stadials.” Increasingly, signs of a possible stadial are being seen south of Greenland.

A close analogy can be drawn between future events and the Eocene-Paleocene Thermal Maximum about 55 million years ago, when release of methane from Earth’s crust resulted in extreme rise in temperature. But as shown below, [ diagram on original] the current rate of temperature rise is far more rapid—and more akin to the planet-heating effects of an asteroid strike.

Mounting our defense

Defending ourselves from global warming and nuclear disaster requires us to do two things: stop fighting destructive wars, and start fighting to save our planet. There is a range of tactics we can use to help achieve the second goal, including large-scale seagrass cultivationextensive biochar development, and restoring huge swathes of the world’s forests.

Space exploration is wonderful, but we still only know of one planet that supports life (bacteria possibly excepted). This is our home, and there is currently little prospect of realising science fiction’s visions of an escape from a scorched Earth to some other world.

Yet still we waver. Many media outlets operate in apparent denial of the connection between global warming and extreme weather. Meanwhile, despite diplomatic progress on nuclear weapons, the Sword of Damocles continues to hang over our heads, as 14,900 nuclear warheads sit aimed at one another, waiting for accidental or deliberate release.

If the clock does strike nuclear midnight, and if we don’t take urgent action to defend our planet, life as we know it will not be able to continue. Humans will survive in relatively cold high latitudes and altitudes. A new cycle would begin.

Andrew Glikson is an Earth and paleo-climate scientist at the Australian National University.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, weapons and war | Leave a comment