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Pandemic is important, yes, but 2020 looks to be the hottest year on record

2020 likely to be the warmest year on record globally,  BY JEFF BERARDELLI,  CBS NEWS, JUNE 15, 2020,  While the public’s attention is consumed by concern over the global pandemic and protests against social injustices, the chronic condition of climate change continues to escalate. In fact, it’s becoming more and more likely that 2020 will be the hottest year globally since records have been kept, dating back to the late 1800s.

Reviews of temperatures for May 2020 have now been reported by four standard-bearer climate data organizations including NASA, NOAA, Berkeley Earth and the European agency Copernicus.

The unanimous conclusion: Last month was the warmest May on record globally, with the caveat from NOAA that it was a virtual tie with May 2016.

According to NOAA, one of the few places on Earth to be cooler than average in May was much of Canada and the eastern United States. But that did little to counteract 2020’s overall warmth.

For the year to date, both NASA and Berkeley Earth rank 2020 as the second warmest globally, a shade behind 2016. This is particularly impressive considering in 2016 there was a Super El Niño. In El Niño years the tropical Pacific Ocean releases copious heat into the atmosphere and record warm years are expected. This year there is no El Niño.

In addition, we are currently at the bottom of the 11-year solar minimum, a time when incoming energy from the sun decreases. This is further proof that solar minimums don’t have a substantial impact on climate.

To put this into perspective, the world’s five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2015, with 2020 highly likely to continue that trend.  ………. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/warmest-year-on-record-2020-likely/

June 18, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 2 Comments

Siberia’s alarming prolonged heat wave

Climate crisis: alarm at record-breaking heatwave in Siberia   https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/17/climate-crisis-alarm-at-record-breaking-heatwave-in-siberia

Unusually high temperatures in region linked to wildfires, oil spill and moth swarms, Damian Carrington Environment editor

Thu 18 Jun 2020 A prolonged heatwave in Siberia is “undoubtedly alarming”, climate scientists have said. The freak temperatures have been linked to wildfires, a huge oil spill and a plague of tree-eating moths.

On a global scale, the Siberian heat is helping push the world towards its hottest year on record in 2020, despite a temporary dip in carbon emissions owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Temperatures in the polar regions are rising fastest because ocean currents carry heat towards the poles and reflective ice and snow is melting away.

Russian towns in the Arctic circle have recorded extraordinary temperatures, with Nizhnyaya Pesha hitting 30C on 9 June and Khatanga, which usually has daytime temperatures of around 0C at this time of year, hitting 25C on 22 May. The previous record was 12C.

In May, surface temperatures in parts of Siberia were up to 10C above average, according to the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). Martin Stendel, of the Danish Meteorological Institute, said the abnormal May temperatures seen in north-west Siberia would be likely to happen just once in 100,000 years without human-caused global heating.

Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist at C3S, said: “It is undoubtedly an alarming sign, but not only May was unusually warm in Siberia. The whole of winter and spring had repeated periods of higher-than-average surface air temperatures.

“Although the planet as a whole is warming, this isn’t happening evenly. Western Siberia stands out as a region that shows more of a warming trend with higher variations in temperature. So to some extent large temperature anomalies are not unexpected. However, what is unusual is how long the warmer-than-average anomalies have persisted for.”

Marina Makarova, the chief meteorologist at Russia’s Rosgidromet weather service, said: “This winter was the hottest in Siberia since records began 130 years ago. Average temperatures were up to 6C higher than the seasonal norms.”

Robert Rohde, the lead scientist at the Berkeley Earth project, said Russia as a whole had experienced record high temperatures in 2020, with the average from January to May 5.3C above the 1951-1980 average. “[This is a] new record by a massive 1.9C,” he said.

In December, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, commented on the unusual heat: “Some of our cities were built north of the Arctic Circle, on the permafrost. If it begins to thaw, you can imagine what consequences it would have. It’s very serious.”

Thawing permafrost was at least partly to blame for a spill of diesel fuel in Siberia this month that led Putin to declare a state of emergency. The supports of the storage tank suddenly sank, according to its operators; green groups said ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure was also to blame.

Wildfires have raged across hundreds of thousands of hectares of Siberia’s forests. Farmers often light fires in the spring to clear vegetation, and a combination of high temperatures and strong winds has caused some fires to burn out of control.

Swarms of the Siberian silk moth, whose larvae eat at conifer trees, have grown rapidly in the rising temperatures. “In all my long career, I’ve never seen moths so huge and growing so quickly,” Vladimir Soldatov, a moth expert, told AFP.

He warned of “tragic consequences” for forests, with the larvae stripping trees of their needles and making them more susceptible to fires.

June 18, 2020 Posted by | climate change, Reference, Russia | 1 Comment

The ‘chemical fingerprint’ of a 2017 nuclear explosion

Scientists just found the ‘chemical fingerprint’ of an alleged nuclear explosion that went undeclared in Russia, Business Insider, Aria Bendix Jun 16, 2020   

  • A group of scientists known as the “Ring of Five” detected unusual levels of radiation in Europe in 2017.
  • new study offers “irrefutable proof” that the radiation came from nuclear waste reprocessing.
  • The study lends further evidence to the claim that Russia failed to disclose an accident at the Mayak nuclear facility in September 2017.
  • For the past three years, a group of scientists called the “Ring of Five” has been inching toward the conclusion that an undisclosed nuclear accident took place in Russia in 2017. 

    In July 2019, the group released evidence that an explosion may have occurred at the Mayak nuclear facility — once the center of the Soviet nuclear-weapons program. Mayak was also the site of the 1957 Kyshtym explosion, the world’s third-worst nuclear accident behind Fukushima and Chernobyl.

  • In late 2019, the scientists suggested that, given the large amount of radiation admitted on the date, the accident took place on September 26, 2017. The radiation seemed to spread from Russia’s Southern Urals region (where the Mayak facility is located) toward central Europe, Scandinavia, and Italy.

    third study, released Monday, offers “irrefutable proof” that the explosion was linked to nuclear waste reprocessing — a method that separates plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear fuel. The Mayak facility is the largest nuclear reprocessing facility in the region. That makes it the most likely, if not the only possible, origin site — though Russia has never acknowledged a nuclear accident at the facility in 2017…….

  • The Ring of Five has been monitoring Europe’s atmosphere for elevated levels of radiation since the mid-1980s. The group originally hailed from five countries: Sweden, Germany, Finland, Norway, and Denmark. But after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the team enlisted the help of other nations to expand their efforts. It now includes researchers from 22 countries.
  • On October 2, 2017,  Italian scientists sent an alert to the Ring of Five about elevated levels of ruthenium-106, a radioactive isotope, in Milan. The discovery marked the first time that ruthenium-106 had been found in the atmosphere since Chernobyl.

    “We were stunned,” Steinhauser said. “We did not have any anticipation that there might be some radioactivity in the air. We were just measuring air filters as we do on a weekly basis, 52 times a year, and suddenly there was an unexpected result.”

  • Steinhauser said the explosion was the “single greatest release from nuclear-fuel reprocessing that has ever happened.”

    But Russia has not responded to any findings from the Ring of Five. In December 2017, Russian officials attributed the radiation to an artificial satellite that burned up in the atmosphere. The scientists’ latest study excludes that possibility.

  • The study is the first direct evidence that the ruthenium-106 came from nuclear waste reprocessing. It identified a unique “chemical fingerprint” among samples of the isotope collected in 2017.

    Within those samples, the scientists found signs of two chemicals commonly associated with nuclear waste reprocessing: (III) chloride and ruthenium(IV) oxide. This provided “direct evidence that fuel reprocessing was the origin of the 2017 environmental release,” the scientists wrote………. https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-nuclear-accident-mayak-facility-new-evidence-2020-6?r=AU&IR=T

June 18, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Joint Project Nuclear Risk and Public Control

Nuclear Risk & Public Control (accessed) 17th June 2020, Currently nuclear energy promoters are trying to make use the climate crisis for their goals by claiming that nuclear energy is a solution. But can nuclear energy contribute to a decarbonized future?

Rather the contrary: climate change poses new challenges and risks to the operation of nuclear power plants, increasing nuclear risk and challenging supply security. In this Joint Project – Nuclear Risk & Public Control webinar we presented our new working paper “Impacts of Climate Change on Nuclear Safety and Supply Security”. A report of the webinar can be downloaded here.

http://www.joint-project.org/ 

June 18, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Africa- financially ruinous coal and nuclear power proposals – will muck up post-Covid-19 recovery

New coal and nuclear power proposals undermine prospects of a post-Covid-19 economic recovery, Daily Maverick, By Anton Eberhard• 17 June 2020  

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s attachment to ‘clean coal’ and new nuclear as immediate options for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery would be comical if they were not financially ruinous. Their fixation on these non-competitive, non-commercial technologies is now wasting scarce public resources.

South Africa is beginning to see the consequences of an energy ministry trapped in the past, beholden to interest groups and oblivious to global innovations in energy technologies and markets. Submissions by the minister and his energy department to Parliament in the past month reveal an economically disastrous commitment to policy, procurement and investment options that have no hope of contributing to our post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in its strategic and economic plans is promoting the role of nuclear energy (mainly small modular reactors) and clean coal (with carbon capture and storage), but these technologies are neither price competitive nor, in the case of small nuclear, are they currently commercially available.

In a presentation to Parliament on 26 May 2020, Minister Gwede Mantashe proposed several medium-term (6-12 month) interventions in response to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. …….

In the same presentation, the minister proposed a number of interventions (also 6-12 months) to enhance electricity supply security, including acceleration of a nuclear build programme, conversion of Eskom’s diesel-fired turbines to gas and the building of a new oil refinery. None of these, of course, can be accomplished within a year and it’s highly unlikely that even contracts for these projects will be placed any time soon, if ever. Implementation of South Africa’s IRP electricity plan, which identifies wind, solar and storage as the next least-cost options to ensure electricity supply security, was evidently not regarded as a priority although – almost as an afterthought – it was offered as a long-term option.

Over the past weekend, DMRE launched a Request for Information (RFI) to commence preparations for a nuclear build programme. Of course, an RFI is non-binding (unlike a Request for Proposals, RFP, in a competitive tender or auction) and participants are perversely incentivised to put forward unrealistically attractive offers and prices which they’ll probably seek to alter when contracts are negotiated. In short, an RFI is not particularly helpful unless you don’t know what you’re doing and want technology and service providers to shape your procurement.

The minister has now appointed a new board chairperson, the retired nuclear chief officer of Eskom, an ex-British navy nuclear submariner, someone who continues, on social media, to rubbish renewable energy alternatives.

The minister has also entertained plans for expanded investment at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), despite the institution recording unprecedented financial losses. ……..

It’s time for a reality check. No country or private company currently offers commercially proven exports of land-based, small modular nuclear reactors. South Africa tried to develop one – the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) – but after spending more than R20-billion (in today’s money), the programme was closed after a decade without even a pilot demonstration plant being built.  …….. Clean coal is also a mirage. …….. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-06-17-new-coal-and-nuclear-power-proposals-undermine-prospects-of-a-post-covid-19-economic-recovery/#gsc.tab=0

June 18, 2020 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Renewable energy for South Africa – cost-efficient and quick – forget coal and nuclear

Global advances in renewable energy sector should halt SA’s rush to nuclear, Let’s avoid any major financial and technological disasters such as Medupi and Kusile happening again Business Live  17 JUNE 2020 ,  COLIN WOOD  SA is once again on the cusp of another major electricity production decision. We had better get this one right. Mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe recently announced that the government is pressing ahead with a nuclear build programme for SA as early as 2024. This despite ample reported evidence that renewables, particularly solar, can be built both rapidly and cost effectively in incremental amounts up to the scale envisaged (2,500MW) to closely match any supply/demand curve.

It is therefore of some concern that those major companies in SA that have been interfacing with the renewables fraternity for their internal electricity production will respond to the one month deadline to raise reservations in a responsible manner with sound factual numbers. We certainly need to avoid any major financial and technological disasters such as Medupi and Kusile  happening again.

The coming decade looks set to become a golden one for renewables globally and could well cement their position irreversibly as the way forward for a threefold purpose: global electricity needs, containing the global temperature rise, and avoiding the drastic climate change…….

The good news is that the driver for electricity production through renewables is no longer climate change but economics. A recent announcement of the lowest competitive tariff globally for a large-scale solar PV (photovoltaic) project in Abu Dhabi certainly illustrates this. It particularly signals the resetting of economies after the Covid-19 lockdown, especially in terms of any incremental increase in the supply/demand curve  going forward.

Most significantly, the rapid construction capability of small- to large-scale renewable technologies avoids the long lead times of the large-scale fossil fuel and nuclear projects, with their difficult financial funding constraints. In addition, it shows that matching the supply/demand curve is relatively straightforward.

With favourable economics as the driver, this raises the issue of stranded assets. Increased reporting on the abandonment of coal plants has become relevant. The stranded asset value of fossil fuel electricity production, explained in a recent Cambridge Econometrics paper in Nature Climate Change, is said to be in the range $1-trillion to $4-trillion. Big numbers. …….

For SA, renewables would surely  help overcome load-shedding and the planned closure of our ageing coal fleet. However, the political opposition to significant introduction of renewables capacity (by trade unions) could well be a limitation for this route………. https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2020-06-17-global-advances-in-renewable-energy-sector-should-halt-sas-rush-to-nuclear/

June 18, 2020 Posted by | renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un’s cyberwar preparations

Kim Jong Un has quietly built a 7,000-man cyber army that gives North Korea an edge nuclear weapons don’t, Business Insider, ELLEN IOANES, JUN 17, 2020

  • North Korea has a cyber army of about 7,000, trained to find secrets, disrupt critical infrastructure, and steal money to circumvent sanctions.
  • These cyberattacks are often difficult to pin on North Korea because they originate in countries like China and Russia, and a counterattack is almost impossible because of North Korea’s rudimentary internet.
  • North Korea’s likely next targets are critical US infrastructure like power plants, dams, and electrical grids.
North Korea’s state-sponsored hack of Sony Pictures in 2014 over the movie “The Interview” was highly embarrassing for Sony. But it was just the tip of the iceberg, according to Daniel Russel, vice president for international security and diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute. …………

The WannaCry virus, on the one hand, was ransomware; you could argue that it’s aimed at getting money, but it caused a huge disruption of hospitals in the UK and, potentially, in something like 100-plus other countries where they had disseminated the ransomware. This was software that brought the operation of critical facilities to a standstill.

This is not hacking; this is cyber warfare.

Cyber weapons kind of level the playing field for North Korea in a way that nukes can’t. Not only do the United States, China, Russia, have vastly more nuclear weapons than North Korea, but a nuclear weapon is an all-or-nothing proposition.
Cyber warfare has a very different risk-return calculation. it’s a low-cost, asymmetric, relatively speaking, low-risk weapon system. And the US is the most vulnerable country on planet Earth to disruptive cyberattacks………

Because North Korea depends so heavily on China, not just for cyber, but in the case of cyber, for access to servers, its pipelines, and so on, it would be critical for the United States to develop some degree of cooperation with China to limit North Korea’s offensive cyber threat.

Obviously, there’s much more on the diplomatic side that we would have to do to present North Korea with an international unified front that would make it difficult for it to find these cyber platforms to use against us………… https://www.businessinsider.com.au/north-korea-kim-jong-un-cyber-army-cyberattacks-nuclear-weapons-2020-6?r=US&IR=T

June 18, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

U.S. – China talks may cover North Korea nuclear issue

North Korea nuclear issue may be on the agenda at US-China   SCMP, 17 June 20
Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, will join the talks in Hawaii on Wednesday.

US special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun will be part of the American delegation at

, suggesting the stalemate in nuclear disarmament negotiations with Pyongyang could be on the agenda.

But Chinese observers said it was unlikely that Beijing and Washington – at odds on a range of issues – would act together to break the deadlock. Tensions are mounting on the Korean peninsula after

and threatened military action against the South……….

The Hawaii meeting comes as relations between the world’s two largest economies are at their lowest point in decades and facing off on many fronts – from trade and technology to Hong Kong and the South China Sea. US officials, including President Donald Trump and Pompeo, have blamed Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic, while Beijing has accused Washington of trying to pass the buck to hide its own failings in dealing with Covid-19 in the US.

t also comes as tensions on the Korean peninsula are again escalating after Pyongyang demolished a four-storey liaison office set up near the border with South Korea in 2018 after the first summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. A major setback for the detente in the region, observers said the move reflected Pyongyang’s growing frustration over its stalled nuclear talks with Washington.

But Chinese analysts said the North Korea issue was unlikely to be a priority for Beijing or Washington as the two powers engaged in long-term and all-out strategic competition…….

June 18, 2020 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s extraordinary ignorance on which countries are nuclear powers

Bolton Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Actions, NYT, By Peter Baker, June 17, 2020

    • “…….Mr. Bolton’s volume is the first tell-all memoir by such a high-ranking official who participated in major foreign policy events and has a lifetime of conservative credentials. It is a withering portrait of a president ignorant of even basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him and prone to false statements, foul-mouthed eruptions and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.

Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain is a nuclear power and asked if Finland is part of Russia, Mr. Bolton writes. He came closer to withdrawing the United States from NATO than previously known. Even top advisers who position themselves as unswervingly loyal mock him behind his back. During Mr. Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korea’s leader, according to the book, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped Mr. Bolton a note disparaging the president, saying, “He is so full of shit”

A month later, Mr. Bolton writes, Mr. Pompeo dismissed the president’s North Korea diplomacy, declaring that there was “zero probability of success.”

Intelligence briefings with the president were a waste of time “since much of the time was spent listening to Trump, rather than Trump listening to the briefers.” Mr. Trump likes pitting staff members against one another, at one point telling Mr. Bolton that former Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson had once referred to Nikki R. Haley, then the ambassador to the United Nations, by a sexist obscenity — an assertion Mr. Bolton seemed to doubt but found telling that the president would make it.

Mr. Trump said so many things that were wrong or false that Mr. Bolton in the book regularly includes phrases like “(the opposite of the truth)” following some quote from the president. And Mr. Trump in this telling has no overarching philosophy of governance or foreign policy but rather a series of gut-driven instincts that sometimes mirrored Mr. Bolton’s but other times were, in his view, dangerous and reckless……..” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/17/us/politics/bolton-book-trump-impeached.html

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Trump - personality, USA | Leave a comment

Sizewell nuclear power station could become a dangerous nuclear island

No2NuclearPower 16th June 2020, Letter to The Times (unpublished) Rachel Fulcher Suffolk Costal FOE:

The Sizewell C debate is salty indeed (Alistair Osborne, 10/06/20). Anyone taking a brisk walk along the Suffolk coast around Sizewell can see clearly how unstable and dynamic it is. Defensive anti-tank blocks from World War II spill down the collapsed cliffs, and here and there the remains of a
pill box, once aloft, can be seen lying on the shingle. ‘Dragons’ teeth’ have disappeared under the sea and then re-appeared before being finally removed – some by EDF ironically. Signs warn of cliff falls, yet, sadly, a man was killed not long ago walking his dog along the beach.

EDF Energy maintains that the two offshore sand banks will continue to protect the nuclear power stations at Sizewell from storm surges for the projected lifetime of Sizewell C, including the long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste. What madness is this? Local swimmers and sailors know only too well how these shift and change. Once you could swim out and stand on one – no longer possible as it has eroded and flattened.

Equally, as Nick Scarr correctly points out, and as our own in-depth researches demonstrate, the two banks have been moving apart, allowing the larger waves to reach the shore during storms.

The power of the sea should not be under-estimated. At nearby Thorpeness, thought to be stable due to the out-lying coralline crag, houses are now teetering on the edge, despite the revetment hastily put in place. Gabions are already rusting away and the huge sand bags have been tossed about by the waves. EDF Energy says in their consultation documents that their new defences would guard Sizewell C against projected climate change and sea level rise.

Even if that were the case, which cannot be proven, what would be the result of these? For a
start, they would cause ‘coastal squeeze’, preventing natural roll-back and resulting in flanking erosion and flooding. Not only would this put at increased risk villagers living either side of the station, but the RSPB’s flagship reserve of Minsmere immediately to the north and Sizewell
Marshes SSSI at the rear.

Indeed, this would leave a highly unsafe nuclear island. Water in the wrong place at a nuclear power station can have devastating consequences, as the catastrophe at Fukushima demonstrates only
too well. Let’s hope that the Planning Inspectorate puts the precautionary principle in place and turns down this hazardous development.
http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/campaign-update/sizewell-debate-turns-salty/

June 18, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Say NO to hauling dangerous nuclear waste across America

Say NO to hauling dangerous nuclear waste across America, NIRS,17 June 2020  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is accepting comments on two proposals to build Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) facilities in New Mexico and Texas. Building these so-called ‘interim’ sites would require hauling dangerous, high-level nuclear waste all over the country twice: Once to the ‘interim’ sites, then once again to the permanent site—if that is ever built. If the permanent site is not built, the ‘interim’ sites could become de-facto permanent storage sites. Communities in New Mexico and Texas would become the latest sacrifice to the nuclear industry.

We can’t allow this dangerous, high-level nuclear waste to be hauled around the country to storage sites that won’t be permanent solutions to our nuclear waste problem. Tell the NRC and your member of Congress to say NO to the CIS facilities in New Mexico and Texas….. https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=27069

June 18, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment