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“Event attribution science” assesses the big role of climate change in weather extremes

Wild weather this year shows growing impact of climate change, scientists say
‘Event attribution science’ assesses how big a role climate change plays in extreme weather events,  https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/extreme-weather-climate-change-1.5718546 Thomson Reuters · Sep 10, 2020    The planet is showing signs it’s in peril. In recent weeks, the world has seen ferocious wildfires in the U.S. West, torrential rains in Africa, weirdly warm temperatures on the surface of tropical oceans, and record heat waves from California to the Siberian Arctic.

This spate of wild weather is consistent with climate change, scientists say, and the world can expect even more extreme weather and higher risks from natural disasters as global emissions of greenhouse gases continue.

“We are seeing the emergence of some signals that would have had almost no chance of happening without human-induced climate change,” said Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at Swiss university ETH Zurich.

For decades, scientists have warned of such events — but have been wary of saying that a particular storm or heat wave was a direct result of climate change. That’s now changing.

Advances in a relatively new field known as “event attribution science” have enabled researchers to assess how big a role climate change might have played in a specific case.

In determining that link, scientists assess simulations of how weather systems might behave if humans had never started pumping carbon dioxide into the air, and compare that with what is happening today. They also factor in weather observations made over the last century or more.

“What seemed like an established truth that you cannot attribute a particular extreme weather event to climate change is less and less true,” Seneviratne told Reuters.

Feeling the heat

The clearest examples are found in the growing frequency and intensity of heat waves worldwide.

Scientists needed only days to identify climate change as the key culprit in this year’s record temperatures in Siberia, with extreme heat drying out forests and peat across the Russian tundra, leading to massive wildfires.

Climate change links have also been found in the simultaneous summer heat waves that hit Europe, Japan and North America in 2018. Studies found that the chances of these events happening together would have been near zero without the industrial-era rise in planet-warming carbon emissions.

“When it comes to heat waves, we see that climate change is an absolute game-changer,” said Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford who has helped to pioneer the field of attribution science.

As a heat wave hit the U.S. West Coast last month, Earth saw a new record high temperature of 54.4 Celsius (130 Fahrenheit) in Death Valley, which sits below sea level in California’s Mojave Desert. Weeks later, the region was still broiling, with the mercury soaring Sunday to a new record of 49 C for nearby Los Angeles County.

“It’s not so much that climate change is destabilizing historical weather patterns,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California. “In many cases, it’s amplifying them.”

Hotter temperatures in turn sap the air of humidity and dry out forest and brush on land, creating perfect conditions for wildfires. In California, “the fires that we’re seeing are larger, and faster moving, and more intense than those you could have expected historically,” Swain said.

But attribution science has not explained everything. For example, researchers do not yet fully understand Europe’s heat waves.

“In Western Europe, the increase in heat waves is much stronger than the models predict, and we have no clue why,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, an attribution science expert at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

Wind, rain and floods

As average global temperatures have risen by about 1 C since pre-industrial times, changes in the atmosphere and oceans are also leading to more intense storms.

Hurricanes overall are getting stronger and spinning slower, as they pick up energy from the heat in the oceans. Researchers at the University of Bristol in the west of England published a study last month that found that climate change could make extreme hurricane rainfall in the Caribbean five times more likely, without rapid cuts in emissions.

In the United States, warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico boosted Hurricane Laura to a category 4 storm in the last hours before it slammed into Louisiana with 240 kilometre per hour winds. Governor John Bel Edwards described it as the most powerful hurricane to strike the state, surpassing even Katrina in 2005.

Tropical cyclones spinning out from the Indian Ocean are showing similar patterns. The region has long been considered a hot spot for cyclones, with some of the deadliest storms in recent history churning through the Bay of Bengal before slamming into India or Bangladesh.

Exceptionally high surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean, associated with climate change, helped Cyclone Amphan grow into a Category 5 storm in a record 18 hours before it tore into the Indian state of West Bengal in May, scientists say.

The following month, Cyclone Nisarga, initially forecast to be the first to batter Mumbai since 1948, made landfall 100 km south of the city, with winds gusting up to 120 kilometres per hour.

“Both of the cyclones were unprecedented,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. “If we go back to what led to these kinds of extreme events, what we see is that very warm ocean temperatures have played a major role.”

Those warm ocean temperatures are also likely contributing to extreme rainfall and flooding in China, which this summer suffered its most punishing flood season in three decades.

“The extreme rainfall events are going to become more extreme. That is something we feel pretty confident about,” said Shang-Ping Xie, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

Africa is feeling this now, following torrential rains and severe flooding. Tens of thousands have been left homeless by flooding from the Nile in Sudan. And in Senegal, more rain fell on a single day on Saturday than the country would usually see during three months of the rainy season, the government said.

“There’s a large and growing body of evidence that is telling us that human-caused climate change is affecting extreme events,” said James Kossin, a climate scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s very rare that this is happening in a helpful way.”

September 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Unprecedented wildfires in three American states

Oregon fires put 500,000 under evacuation orders as US blazes kill 15

Unprecedented fire conditions burn more than 900,000 acres
Firefighting resources are stretched thin in three states 
 Guardian,  Jason Wilson in Portland, Maanvi Singh in Oakland and Sam Levin in Los Angeles Fri 11 Sep 2020 More than 500,000 people in Oregon were under evacuation orders on Thursday as unprecedented wildfires rage across the state, amounting to more than 10% of the population, authorities said.

Wildfires searing through the American west have killed at least 15 people, leveled entire neighborhoods and forced stretched firefighting crews to make tough decisions about where to deploy.

The situation is especially acute in Oregon where fire conditions not seen in three decades have fueled huge blazes that have killed at least three people, destroyed at least five towns and forced the evacuation of communities from the southern border to the Portland suburbs.

On Thursday night, Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration in the state, enabling federal assistance to bolster local efforts.

Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, said on Thursday that more than 900,000 acres have burned across the state in the last several days – nearly double the amount of land that usually burns in a typical year. “We have never seen this amount of uncontained fire across the state,” Brown said……..,.

Firefighters on the west coast are tackling blazes across three states……

This week’s fires did not just affect rural areas: Wednesday saw evacuation orders in Clackamas county, including south-eastern suburbs of Portland, and rural parts of Washington county, which also takes in the city’s western suburbs.

By Wednesday evening, that city was blanketed with smoke from fires burning around its forested south-eastern fringe, and in rural areas to the south-west.

The explosion of fires across the region were stoked by dry winds, and a record heatwave – and fueled by widespread drought, which dried out vegetation into kindling.

The early part of the week saw gusts of up to 50mph in western areas, downing trees and power lines in Portland and other cities. The rare weather, more characteristic of winter storms in the region, was accompanied by historically low relative humidity.

The conditions led to an unprecedented “extremely critical” fire weather warning for southern Oregon on Monday, and only the second such warning in state history for north-west Oregon……….

California, which has been battling a barrage of fires since August, has within the last few weeks seen the first, third, fourth, ninth, 10th and 18th-largest wildfires in state history, according to the National Weather Service.

Even in the midst of its dry, hot, windy fire season, California has experienced wildfires advancing with unprecedented speed and ferocity. Since the middle of August, fires in California have killed 12 people, destroyed more than 3,600 buildings, burned old growth redwoods, charred chaparral and forced evacuations in communities near the coast, in wine country north of San Francisco and along the Sierra Nevada. Authorities said the August Complex fire is now officially the largest fire on record in the state’s history, having scorched more than 736 sq miles (1,906 sq km).

In some areas of the San Francisco Bay Area and to the east in the Sacramento Valley, smoke blocked out so much sunlight on Wednesday that it dropped the temperature by 20 to 30 degrees over the previous day, according to the National Weather Service.

The US Forest Service, which had taken the unprecedented measure of closing eight national forests in southern California earlier in the week, ordered all 18 of its forests in the state closed Wednesday for public safety.

Fires burned in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. People in foothill communities east of LA were warned to be ready to flee, but the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds were weaker than predicted……. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/10/wildfires-us-california-oregon-washington-latest-death-toll?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

September 12, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Joe Biden, if President would re-enter nuclear deal with Iran

Biden Says Iran Closer to Nuclear Weapons Under Trump, Would Re-Enter Deal. NewsWeek, BY DAVID BRENNAN ON 9/11/20  Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has claimed that Iran is now closer to a nuclear weapon that it was during President Barack Obama’s administration, criticizing President Donald Trump for walking away from the nuclear deal Biden wishes to resurrect.

At a virtual fundraiser hosted by the JStreet PAC on Thursday, Biden said he would seek to re-engage with Tehran though admitted this would not be easy after four years of antagonism.

On Thursday, Biden said Trump had made an Iranian nuclear weapon more likely despite his claims to the contrary. “Iran is closer to a weapon now than we were when we left office in 2017,” he said, according to a press pool report sent out by his campaign.

The former vice president defended the JCPOA, describing it as the “most intrusive inspection regime in history.”

Trump abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018, claiming the deal was too lenient and fulfilling a promise that became a key part of his foreign policy campaign strategy.

Trump withdrew despite other signatories urging him to reconsider and despite the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming that Tehran was complying with the agreement.

U.S.-Iran reactions have continued deteriorating since, with the two sides launching strikes against each other and flirting with an open conflict. Trump has maintained his “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, seeking to undermine the regime with crippling economic sanctions.

Trump withdrew despite other signatories urging him to reconsider and despite the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming that Tehran was complying with the agreement.

U.S.-Iran reactions have continued deteriorating since, with the two sides launching strikes against each other and flirting with an open conflict. Trump has maintained his “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, seeking to undermine the regime with crippling economic sanctions……… https://www.newsweek.com/joe-biden-iran-closer-nuclear-weapons-under-donald-trump-re-enter-deal-153121

September 12, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Global population slowdown – good news for the planet’s ecology

The best news of 2020? Humanity may never hit the 10 billion mark

MongaBay by Jeremy Hance on 10 September 2020 
  • A new study in the Lancet finds our global population may never reach 10 billion.
  • A population slowdown will pose challenges, but it could also give us a better chance of avoiding ecological collapse.
  • Population slowdown is not a reason for concern, but rather for celebration. Thank birth control and women’s education.

While watching 2020 unfold has been like watching someone set themself on fire with a bucket of bacon grease and a firecracker, one morning I stumbled on something that made me smile, and then jump for joy: A new study found that the global human population might peak at just under 10 billion people in the 2060s before tapering off to 8.8 billion by 2100.

What miracle could achieve such a slowdown in human reproduction after a century of smack-yourself-in-the-face runaway growth? It’s not war, or nuclear holocaust, or plague (COVID-19, as tragic as its mishandling has been by certain governments, will do little to slow down population growth). It’s two things, both wonderfully non-violent: women’s education, and access to birth control.

The new findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, differ from other population forecasts, most importantly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Wittgenstein Centre, by predicting that the global population will peak sooner than expected and fall quicker than anticipated (though still, by 2100, the Earth would house more humans than the 7.8 billion of us here today).

This was good news. No, no, this was freaking great news. Because if this research — which made some clever shifts in how it analyzed the data and predicted the future — could be believed, it could mean that Planet Earth, in all its ecological glory, might just survive our current devastating onslaught and begin to recover in the coming centuries. Assuming we, of course, actually deal with climate change. A big assumption.

However, no one else seemed to see it that way. Coverage of the paper’s findings looked more like Munch’s “The Scream.”

Perhaps the most ridiculous of these articles came from the BBC, which spent about 1,000 words freaking out over the idea that the human population won’t go on growing forever and societies might have to … adapt. Oh, no! Humans have never had to do that.

There is only a single mention of the environment in the BBC article……….

Will there be economic challenges? Sure. But I’d hazard the challenges posed by an aging population are going to be far easier to solve than those posed by a total breakdown of Earth’s ecological limits, something we’re already dangerously close to. When it comes to an older population, we already have potential solutions and examples to soften the impact, such as automation, robotics, policy shifts, new ideas like universal basic income, and evolving views around economics.

Maybe we don’t have to play the neoliberal capitalism game forever? Maybe we could increase funding for the care of the elderly instead of giving billionaires tax cuts or spending trillions on the military?……

While the research clearly bemoans the challenges of a world where women have fewer children, the alternative is quite simply ludicrous. Is the human population — already tearing the seams of our planetary ecological limits — supposed to just go on growing forever? Perhaps 10 billion humans just isn’t enough and we should aim for 20, 40, why not 100 billion people?

How to feed, house and clothe us all? Oh, no worries, by then I’m sure we’ll have terraformed Mars — easily done on a planet we have never set foot on — and invented light-speed travel to bounce around the galaxy. Ha! Let’s get back to reality: if we can’t even take care of the planet that cradles us, what chance do we have of making good on others?

The only alternative to endless population growth is population decline. And the only alternative to wrecking our Earth is treating it differently. And this, of course, highlights the problem with our obsession with GDP and never-ending economic growth. As has been pointed out by many conservationists (originally by the economist Kenneth Boulding in the 1960s), “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth…on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.” …….

humans will be fine — if we avoid ecological catastrophe and total climate breakdown. And a slowing population allows us to have a bit of a better chance on both of those. I say “a bit” because human population is just one part of the equation. The other is consumption. We might miss the worst of the predicted population growth, but we still have to rein in our material consumption.

Just don’t tell the economists that.

Meanwhile, I’ll celebrate a little. Our incredible, nonviolent revolution of contraceptives, birth control, women’s rights, and education for girls might just prevent our species from destroying the world.

Citation: Vollset, S. E., Goren, E., Yuan, C., Cao, J., Smith, A. E., Hsiao, T., … Murray, C. J. (2020). Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: A forecasting analysis for the Global Burden of Disease study. The Lancet. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(20)30677-2   https://news.mongabay.com/2020/09/the-best-news-of-2020-humanity-may-never-hit-the-10-billion-mark/

 

September 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | 3 Comments

Scottish peace activist calls for timetable for the removal of nuclear weapons and submarines if independence is achieved

Scottish peace activist calls for timetable for the removal of nuclear weapons and submarines if independence is achieved

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020   https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/scottish-peace-activist-calls-timetable-removal-nuclear-weapons-and-submarines-if

A LEADING peace activist in Scotland has urged the government to produce a timetable for the removal of British nuclear weapons and submarines from their Scottish base if independence is achieved.

Isobel Lindsay, a long-time Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament campaigner, warned that the Westminster Parliament would attempt to “buy time” and maintain its Trident submarine base at Faslane on the west coast of Scotland in the event of a vote for independence.

Writing in pro-independence newspaper The National, Ms Lindsay said: “It is obvious what the Trident negotiating pitch of the UK

government will be in independence negotiations.

“Buy time, and as soon as they get a concession on that, they know they won’t have to worry. Scotland yields to pressure and they will keep on getting their lease extended.

“This is why a very clear and tight timetable for removal is essential from the start.”

Ms Lindsay said that before the 2014 referendum, a scenario was being prepared using the threat of vetoing Scotland’s EU membership as the bargaining chip for retaining Trident on the Clyde.

“That bargaining chip is no longer there, so there is talk about buying off the Jocks by paying for their lease,” she said.

“I think we know about being bought and sold.”

Faslane and the nuclear-weapons storage facility eight miles away at Coulport have been frequently targeted for protests by disarmament campaigners.

The SNP has said that support for independence is growing in the face of Westminster chaos and incompetence, with a Survation poll today putting support for independence at 53 per cent – the seventh poll in a row showing “Yes” ahead.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Big Oil is cheating the public on “recycling” of plastic

These commercials carried a distinct message: Plastic is special, and the consumer should recycle it.

It may have sounded like an environmentalist’s message, but the ads were paid for by the plastics industry, made up of companies like Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and their lobbying and trade organizations in Washington.

The oil industry makes more than $400 billion a year making plastic, and as demand for oil for cars and trucks declines, the industry is telling shareholders that future profits will increasinglycome from plastic.

an industry that didn’t want recycling to work. Because if the job is to sell as much oil as you possibly can, any amount of recycled plastic is competition.

Analysts now expect plastic production to triple by 2050.

How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled, NPR, LAURA SULLIVAN,– 11 Sept 20 Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups.

None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried.

“To me that felt like it was a betrayal of the public trust,” she said. “I had been lying to people … unwittingly.”

Rogue, like most recycling companies, had been sending plastic trash to China, but when China shut its doors two years ago, Leebrick scoured the U.S. for buyers. She could find only someone who wanted white milk jugs. She sends the soda bottles to the state.

But when Leebrick tried to tell people the truth about burying all the other plastic, she says people didn’t want to hear it.

“I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.”

But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite.

“If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, known today as the Plastics Industry Association and one of the industry’s most powerful trade groups in Washington, D.C., told NPR………. Continue reading

September 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 2 Comments

Fukushima’s citizen radiation testers still on the job.

Fukushima Has Turned These Grandparents Into Avid Radiation Testers, NPR,     Kat Lonsdorf (@lilkat_bigworldSeptember 11, 2020  Takenori Kobayashi lugs a garbage bag full of soil across a parking lot to an unmarked office. His wife, Tomoko, holds the door to a tiny work space with lab equipment and computers set up. On the edge of Fukushima’s former nuclear exclusion zone, this is the place the couple likes to call their “grandma and grandpa lab.”

It started as a makeshift operation in the city of Minamisoma the year after the 2011 nuclear disaster, when people — mostly elderly — returned to the area and were worried about high radiation levels in their food and soil.”We’ve given up hope that our children and grandchildren will come back to live here,” Tomoko, 67, says. Most young people decided to start lives elsewhere rather than return, not wanting to take the risks with radiation. “But in order for them to come back and visit us,” she continues, “we need to know everything is safe. So we test it all.”

Citizen science like this flourished in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in 2011, when a tsunami triggered explosions at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The wind carried radioactive material for miles, covering whole towns and neighborhoods with dangerous, yet invisible, particles. For weeks after the disaster, information was scarce and trust in the Japanese government plummeted. And now, almost a decade later, wide arrays of residents have taken it upon themselves to collect radiation data — from mothers worried about their kids to surfers monitoring beaches to individuals with Geiger counters in their homes — to help regain a sense of control.
Inside the lab, the Kobayashis pair get to work. One measures out soil into small containers, the other starts labeling — so coordinated and practiced, it’s almost like a dance. They put the samples through a donated gamma counter, a big cylindrical machine that measures radioactive particles. Today, they’re testing soil from a nearby farm.

A handful of other residents help run the lab, and throughout the years, experts from nearby universities have come to teach them all about the different equipment and radiation science.

“All the grandparents here are radiation professionals now,” Takenori, 71, says with a smile……..

The maps show that Fukushima’s radiation levels are decreasing, because of both natural decay of particles and large-scale Japanese government decontamination efforts. But there are still a lot of hot spots — places where radiation is worryingly high. The authorities have tried to ease concerns, testing food in supermarkets and setting up radiation monitors in public parks, outside train stations or flashing along highways, but trust in the government is still extremely low. Many residents say they still feel best collecting information themselves. ……… https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/907881531/fukushima-has-turned-these-grandparents-into-avid-radiation-testers

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation | Leave a comment

Sea level rise – a threat to nuclear power stations that is being ignored

For nuclear plants operating on thin margins, growing climate risks prompt tough choices   Climate change creates a number of problems for nuclear power plants that some academics say the industry needs to address soon. UtilityDive, Matthew Bandyk@MatthewBandy- – 11 Sept 20′‘………..Sea Levels

Researchers are projecting that nuclear plants need to be concerned not just with water temperature, but also water levels, especially when severe weather events linked to climate change like hurricanes can cause the water level a plant was designed to handle to rise rapidly.

About 37 GW of nuclear power capacity face “higher exposure to flood risk,” according to the Moody’s report. These include plants along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as inland plants located on rivers, like the Nebraska Public Power District’s Cooper plant on the Missouri River near the Omaha Public Power District’s now-retired Fort Calhoun plant, which was inundated with flood waters in 2011, forcing the plant to shut down for almost three years.

 

Over the long term, severe weather and rising sea levels could make the need to solve the puzzle of where to store spent fuel from reactors more urgent.

Due to the failure to develop a central waste repository like the long-stalled Yucca Mountain facility, much of the spent fuel is stored on-site in pools within the reactor that shield the potentially dangerous radiation from the discarded fuel assemblies, or, in the case of older spent fuel, stored in dry casks. Spent fuel pools must be actively cooled to avoid a scenario like the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

 

A 2020 academic journal article by Jordaan and other Johns Hopkins researchers looked at what would happen to spent fuel pool sites at U.S. nuclear plants if sea levels rose by six feet — as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has projected could happen over the next 80 years.

Seven plants would be at essentially the same level as coastal water, “meaning that the water will be encroaching on the plant with regularity,” the article said. One active plant — Turkey Point — and two decommissioned plant sites — Humboldt Bay in California and Crystal River in Florida — would “be partially or completely submerged by water” in this scenario. To avoid a Fukushima-like incident or the corrosion of dry casks, the article calls for “a long-term and comprehensive storage plan that is less vulnerable to climate change.”

As part of the regulatory response to Fukushima, U.S. nuclear plants updated their evaluations of the potential hazards they face based on their geographic locations, including floods. In some cases, those flood reevaluations have led to changes at some plants, such as new watertight barriers, according to Uhle.

There has been controversy both within and outside the NRC regarding whether the agency has done enough to ensure plants’ flooding protections are in line with the current estimated threats, which are in some cases far more severe than was thought when plants were initially licensed.

In early 2019, a divided NRC approved a rule incorporating “lessons learned” from Fukushima into regulatory requirements, but it did not contain provisions that would have required more extensive protections against the reevaluated hazards.

“Instead of requiring nuclear power plants to be prepared for the actual flooding and earthquake hazards that could occur at their sites, NRC will allow them to be prepared only for the old, outdated hazards typically calculated decades ago when the science of seismology and hydrology was far less advanced than it is today,” NRC Commissioner Jeff Baran said when explaining his objection to the majority’s decision.

The regulations the NRC stopped short of imposing would have forced plant operators to, in some cases, take flood mitigation steps beyond what the plant was originally designed to withstand, according to Ed Lyman, director of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, who was a strong critic of the commission’s move. For example, if a building containing critical safety equipment for a plant was built to stay above water in a flood, and new studies showed the potential water level was higher than previously thought, the NRC regulations would not require that building to be moved to a higher location, Lyman said.

“Even without additional concerns from climate change, the plants aren’t protected today,” he said……… https://www.utilitydive.com/news/for-nuclear-plants-operating-on-thin-margins-growing-climate-risks-prompt/584883/

September 12, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste disposal problem National Nuclear Security Administration’s elephant in the desert

September 12, 2020 Posted by | USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Effective nuclear arms control engagement with China – the View from Beijing

View From Beijing  https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/09/09/view-from-beijing-pub-82525,  Tong Zhao, Senior Fellow
Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy 11 Sept 20, Effective nuclear arms control engagement with China will likely require confidence-building measures by the United States and greater support from the international community.

 
All major powers must recognize that, despite their strategic competition, they have a common interest in pursuing arms control to manage that competition and minimize the risk of military conflicts. Thus, the United States should be able to engage China on arms control if it sets the right goals. But if Washington continues to present arms control as a tool to compete with Beijing, why would Beijing help?
Washington cannot coerce Beijing by threatening to start an arms race and spend China “into oblivion,” especially because Beijing is confident it can outcompete Washington in the long run. Such a threat also reinforces China’s long-standing suspicion that arms control is a concession imposed by the strong and accepted by the weak.

The United States will have to keep its public voice down while offering China concrete proposals to address the two countries’ asymmetric capabilities. If they’re to be taken seriously, these proposals should show a willingness by the United States to limit its own capabilities, particularly in areas of U.S. superiority such as air- and sea-launched missile systems and space-based capabilities.

Appeals to the United States and China by the international community for responsible behavior would also have an impact. As U.S.-China competition intensifies, both countries understand the need to win support from third parties.

Given China’s deep skepticism and outsider status in the arms control arena, engagement will require transparency and time to build confidence. One valuable starting point could be a reset of fundamental terms: China may be more eager to discuss “strategic ability” than “arms control.” Identifying cooperative measures for nuclear risk reduction would be a useful topic for initial discussions.

To proceed with substantive talks, Beijing would need reassurance that Washington accepts a relationship of mutual vulnerability and does not seek to challenge its strategic nuclear deterrence. China’s concern over U.S. missile defense, if left unaddressed, would remain the strongest external driver of its comprehensive nuclear modernization. Perhaps the two parties could agree to a joint study on the technical feasibility of making the U.S. system capable only of defending against North Korean strategic missiles without undermining China’s nuclear retaliation capacity.
In China’s highly centralized political system, in which arms control experts are scattered and do not have a strong voice, the blessing of top political leadership is key to generating momentum for arms control talks. World leaders should engage with President Xi Jinping directly: his support, even a merely symbolic endorsement of the concept of arms control, would help start a much-needed domestic discussion.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | China, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No good reason for USA to start testing nuclear weapons again

September 12, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

In “The Button,” former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina survey the dangers of nuclear escalation.

Book Review: The Nuclear Arms Race, Then and Now, Undark, BY MARK WOLVERTON  11 Sept 20, In “The Button,” former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina survey the dangers of nuclear escalation.

 IN THE bad old days of the Cold War, both the United States and the USSR maintained thousands of nuclear weapons, ready to be launched at a moment’s notice. Only one person had the authority to unleash America’s nuclear forces: the president of the United States. He could do so at any time, without consulting Congress or the military or anyone else save his own conscience. Although the mechanism for doing so never actually consisted of pushing a button, that became the popular metaphor for setting off doomsday.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Broad support among Ohio lawmakers for the repeal of nuclear bailout law

Lawmakers debate repeal of nuclear plant bailout law  https://www.mahoningmatters.com/regional-news/lawmakers-debate-repeal-of-nuclear-plant-bailout-law-2703211 – By: Farnoush Amiri , 11 Sept 20, State Rep. Michael O’Brien of Warren testified in favor of a full repeal of House Bill 6 Thursday.

COLUMBUS (AP) — The alleged corruption that led to passage of a nuclear plant bailout law and questions about whether the bailout was necessary require the law’s immediate repeal and replacement, Democratic and Republican lawmakers testified Thursday.

Supporters of the energy policy contained within the law who worry a repeal of House Bill 6  throws the baby “out with the bathwater” overlook the enormous problems with the law, said state Rep. Laura Lanese.

“I would counter that what we have now isn’t bathwater, but mud,” Lanese told the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, created to hear the repeal. “And once you have mud, you can’t cleanly separate the dirt from the water and still have confidence you got rid of all the dirt.”

 “…….. At issue is HB 6, which would add a fee to every electricity bill in the state and direct more than $150 million a year, through 2026, to the nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

The law is now at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe that led to the ouster of former GOP House Speaker Larry Householder. Federal prosecutors in July accused Householder and four others of shepherding energy company money for personal and political use as part of an effort to pass the legislation, then kill any attempt to repeal it at the ballot.

Federal documents make clear the company was Akron-based FirstEnergy.

While FirstEnergy and its executives have denied wrongdoing and have not been criminally charged, federal investigators say the company secretly funneled millions to secure a $1 billion legislative bailout for two unprofitable Ohio nuclear plants then operated by an independently controlled subsidiary called FirstEnergy Solutions.

In addition to the corruption charges, there’s evidence that the plants didn’t need the bailout, said Lanese and fellow Republican Rep. Dave Greenspan. They noted that a FirstEnergy spinoff company announced an $800 million stock buyback in May, after the law was passed.ly funneled millions to secure a $1 billion legislative bailout for two unprofitable Ohio nuclear plants then operated by an independently controlled subsidiary called FirstEnergy Solutions.

In addition to the corruption charges, there’s evidence that the plants didn’t need the bailout, said Lanese and fellow Republican Rep. Dave Greenspan. They noted that a FirstEnergy spinoff company announced an $800 million stock buyback in May, after the law was passed.

In addition, a portion of the bill also provided guaranteed profits for the company even if revenue dips.

“The owner and operator of the nuclear plants has cash flow and is profitable today, months before the first cent from House Bill 6 is set to reach them,” Greenspan said.

In addition, by favoring nuclear energy over other clean energy options, the bill created winners and losers, Greenspan said.

Democratic state Reps. Michael O’Brien of Warren and Michael Skindell of suburban Cleveland also testified in favor of a repeal. The effort has broad bipartisan support, including backing from Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Campaign against nuclear fuel waste storage in South Bruce, Canada

Opposition group launches education campaign against nuclear fuel bunker in South Bruce,  https://blackburnnews.com/uncategorized/2020/09/10/opposition-group-launches-education-campaign-nuclear-fuel-bunker-south-bruce/    By Janice MacKaySeptember 10, 2020 3:40pm

People in communities near the Municipality of South Bruce may receive a leaflet from the group Protect Our Waterways-No Nuclear Waste with information on the proposal to store used nuclear fuel deep underground near Teeswater.

Spokesman Michelle Stein said 50,000 leaflets were sent out this week to let people know some of the group’s concerns about the plan to store Canada’s nuclear waste in a Deep Geologic Repository or DGR.

Stein said the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is assembling land in the municipality of South Bruce to store irradiated nuclear fuel from 4.6 million spent fuel bundles.

“The proposed site includes the Teeswater River flowing through it, and that leads to Lake Huron. And 40 million people get their drinking water from Lake Huron,” she said.

“It’s a decision that is going to affect so many people, and change our community in such a large way, I think each individual deserves to have a vote,” she added.

Stein says 1,600 residents of South Bruce signed a petition opposing the proposed DGR.    Stein wants to see a referendum on the issue, as both the Nuclear Waste Management Organization and the municipality have stated that the project needs broad community support to go ahead.

If the proposed nuclear waste dump is approved there will be two loads of spent nuclear fuel travelling by truck every day for forty years from Canada’s nuclear reactors. And if there is a radioactive leak underground it could affect 40 million people in Canada and the US,” said Stein.“People need to know the risks. Nowhere in the world is there an operating DGR for high-level nuclear waste as is being proposed here. Underground storage sites for low-medium level nuclear waste in the US and Germany have leaked radioactive material and required multi-billion-dollar clean-ups”, says Stein. “I encourage everyone who lives in a community near South Bruce to contact their own Mayor and tell them you oppose NWMO’s proposal for a nuclear waste dump.”

POW-NNW believes that the “rolling stewardship” method of managing nuclear waste is better because it maintains it in a monitored and retrievable state at all times, with continual improvements to packaging and environmental protection.

Stein added that ongoing scientific studies examine how spent nuclear fuel can be reused, reduced, and even neutralized. In its initial report to Parliament, the NWMO did not say that on-site storage at the reactor sites was unsafe or not feasible.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Bruce County divided over becoming permanent site to store Canada’s nuclear waste, 

Bruce County divided over becoming permanent site to store Canada’s nuclear waste, 

Canada has 57K tonnes of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel and nowhere to put it, Colin Butler · CBC News ·  Feb 21 2020, Bruce County calls itself a place “where the smiles are bigger and a little more frequent,” but those smiles belie a deepening divide among neighbours over what to do with Canada’s growing stockpile of nuclear waste. 

The town of South Bruce, on the rim of the sparkling waters of Lake Huron, is one of two sites selected by a federal agency tasked with finding permanent locations to store Canada’s nearly three million bundles of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel.

On Thursday, politicians in Bruce County debated whether their community should be home to a place to put that waste, what’s called a deep geologic repository, or DGR; a multi-billion dollar high tech nuclear waste dump that would see the material stored in perpetuity hundreds of metres below the Earth.

At issue in the debate are the ethics of leaving the burden of some of Canada’s most dangerous nuclear material to future generations, the possible development and devaluation of prime Ontario farmland and concerns over the potential safety of the drinking water for 40 million people in two countries.

‘I am strongly opposed’

On Thursday, that politically-fraught debate took centre stage in Walkerton, Ont. before a packed council chamber where politicians debated whether DGRs were “settled science” in an argument that has already played out at dinner tables, arenas and coffee shops in the area for years, dividing neighbours and leaving communities deeply polarized.

“I am strongly opposed,” said Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody, whose township includes Walkerton, a place that two decades ago grappled with a tainted water crisis where e. coli killed six people and sickened thousands.

“The proposal is to bury the waste under the Teeswater River,” he told council. “I can’t support that. I’ve got several communities down river that get their drinking water from aquifers along that river.”

Peabody said if a deep geologic repository were to be located west of Teeswater, it would potentially devalue prime farmland and the resulting stigma of burying nuclear waste near his community might affect the ability of local farmers to sell their wares.

“It would make it very difficult for them to market their produce and survive,” he said. “I don’t think the scientific consensus supports burying nuclear waste in class one farmland in Southern Ontario.”

Utilizing a deep geologic repository isn’t simply a matter of “burying nuclear waste in class one farmland” as Peabody suggests. The proposed underground project is a highly sophisticated $23 billion nuclear waste disposal site designed to contain and isolate some of the most dangerous materials on Earth for thousands of years.

The sprawling complex of tunnels and chambers would occupy a footprint of about 600 hectares underground, where nuclear waste would be stored at a depth as low as the CN Tower is tall (500 to 600 metres). The idea is the material would be encased in containers below natural bedrock to keep the harmful effects of radiation at bay for millennia.

While proponents of the system claim a DGR is a safe way to store nuclear waste, those opposed argue it has a spotty record at best, pointing out that similar facilities in New Mexico and Germany have leaked – and by that token, opponents say a DGR near Lake Huron would potentially put the drinking water of 40 million people at risk.

It’s not the first time the debate has come to the area. Ontario Power Generation recently abandoned a 15-year campaign for a similar proposed facility to store low to intermediary waste at a site not far from the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.

The failure to move ahead with the project is part of a larger problem of Canada’s struggle to find a permanent home for its growing stockpile of nuclear waste.

As of 2018, it’s estimated Canada had some 57,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel and nowhere to put it.

So far, the federal agency tasked with disposing it, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, or NWMO, has identified two potential communities with the right geological makeup; Ignace in Ontario’s north and South Bruce, in Ontario’s Great Lakes Basin. ……. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/canada-nuclear-waste-1.5469727

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment