The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

This week’s news – climate, pandemic, nuclear

Every year there’s a  ”Year of” something. I’m thinking that 2020 should be called the Year Of Obfuscation”, (another wonderful word that I’ve learned. )  The world needs to cut through this mixture of lies and omissions.

For a start, there’s the wealth of propaganda concerning the coronavirus pandemic. For various reasons, it’s THE topic right now for disinformation. Some world  leaders minimise or deny the seriousness of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the WHO reports record increase in daily virus cases.  Second wave of coronavirus continues to sweep across Europe.

Climate change denialism thrives, ( -you can add  “extinction denial”too.)  A climate change denialist is given top role at a major U.S. science agency. But – It’s Climate Change, Stupid.  The Berkeley Earth Project–  shows that it’s gotten warmer pretty much everywhere and that there really is no factor that can explain this warming other than anthropogenic emissions.

As for nuclear news,  tap “nuclear”into Google news, and you will get a stream of articles touting small nuclear reactors as the big future for curing climate change. A rare find in such a stream – Nuclear power is not climate-effective, even if only because of comparative costs and delays.

Some bits of good news –   Some positive COVID-19 trends emerged in August in parts of the US, and elsewhere. – New York Turned the World’s Largest Garbage Dump into a Green Oasis of Native Grasses That Also Powers Homes

“Event attribution science” assesses the big role of climate change in weather extremes. Endless summers, endless wildfiresEarth may temporarily pass dangerous 1.5℃ warming limit by 2024, major new report says .

United in Science report: Climate Change has not stopped for COVID19– Why climate change has the potential to cause more pandemics.

Importance of the ocean’s biological carbon pump.  Climate engineering: Modelling projections oversimplify risks

Compelling new documentary ‘I am Greta Thunberg’.

INJUSTICE at work? The extradition trial of Julian AssangeJulian Assange’s extradition hearing in London. What can we expect? Professor Paul Rogers – a witness explaining how Julian Assange is to be extradited for POLITICAL REASONS.

Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is getting close to the 50 ratifications needed to bring it into legal force.

Investigative journalism -Big Oil is cheating the public on “recycling” of plastic.

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

ARCTIC.  The Arctic is transitioning from a climate of snow and ice to one of water and rain.  Climate change causing major changes in Arctic insect communities.  Climate change and the loss of sea otters.  Russian nuclear submarines ‘hunted’ by NATO forces in the Barents sea.

AFRICA.  Senegal suburbs remain under water days after ‘exceptional rainfall’  Farmland submerged as severe floods hit Nigeria 


CANADA. Campaign against nuclear fuel waste storage in South Bruce, Canada.  Bruce County divided over becoming permanent site to store Canada’s nuclear waste.

JAPAN. Opposition in Kamoenai to hosting nuclear waste dump. Suttsu, Hokkaido residents oppose radioactive waste dump plan.  Fukushima’s citizen radiation testers still on the job. Radioactive soil plan casts shadow over Fukushima village. “The nuclear plant took everything…” Tokyo Olympics must be held at ‘any cost’, says Japanese minister.



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

FRANCE.  France’s secrecy over its deplorable history of nuclear bomb testing in Algeria.   France’s weekly nuclear power generation drops.

SAUDI ARABIA. IAEA Providing Support for Saudi Arabia as It Plans to Adopt Nuclear Energy

SPAIN. Spain’s Asco 1 nuclear plant taken offline for three-day halt

INDIA. India and China both have a nuclear no-first-use policy– nuclear war between them is less likely.

SOUTH KOREA.  South Korea’s nuclear reactors affected by Typhoon Haishen: 2 reactors stopped.

IRAN. Iran has halted numerous cyber-attacks on its nuclear plants.

INDIA.  The impediments to India’s nuclear power dream.

UKRAINE.  Chernobyl nuclear power plant gets special permission to run ‘hot’ tests with nuclear waste.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. United Arab Emirates’ unnecessary nuclear power push could bring dangerous, catastrophic consequences.

NORTH KOREA. The United States and its allies must learn how to live safely with a nuclear North Korea.

AUSTRALIA.  Australia’s environmental scientists are being gagged.  Australia’s environmental law: the danger in moving powers to the States.  Dissent and anger: Senate divided over nuke dump push . Deep disagreement on federal radioactive waste plan

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | 2 Comments

France’s secrecy over its deplorable history of nuclear bomb testing in Algeria

September 14, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, France, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is not climate-effective, simply because of comparative costs and delays

This is a thorough analysis of the costs and time delays of nuclear power, as compared with those of energy efficiency and renewables. It does show that in the fight to stop climate change, the push for nuclear is a wasteful distraction.

My only problem with this argument is that it seems to imply that, apart from its exorbitant costs and delays, nuclear power might be effective. Not so!



Nuclear reactors make climate change worse,  September 13, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational 

September 14, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Russian nuclear submarines ‘hunted’ by NATO forces in the Barents sea

NATO forces organized ‘a hunt’ of a nuclear Russian submarine in the Barents , Military, By Boyko Nikolov On Sep 13, 2020  MOSCOW, (BM) – NATO ships made an attempt to “take the pincers” of the Russian submarine in the waters of the Barents Sea, according to the Nation-news resource on September 12, learned

Several ships from the USA, Great Britain and Sweden, supported by a Danish aircraft, attempted to block the movement of a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. It is also reported that a silent American submarine Seawolf may be in the provocation zone.

It is noted that the Russian submarine, which was “hunted” by NATO forces, is equipped with nuclear warheads and means of delivering them with Poseidon torpedoes. The American submarine, in turn, has Harpoon torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles in its arsenal.

A similar incident is also reported in May 2020 in waters belonging to the Northern Sea Route. And also about the flight of a group of NATO bombers over the waters of the East Siberian Sea.

Such actions are assessed by the National Center for Defense Management of the Russian Federation as provocative.

US and British Navy maneuvers into Barents Sea are a signal to Moscow

For the first time since the mid-80s, under the supervision of the Russian fleet, four American and one British ship entered the Barents Sea, which indicates a growing intensity of the confrontation between the great powers in the Arctic, writes The Washington Times.

According to the newspaper, the purpose of this operation was to send a signal to Moscow, as well as to check the readiness of the Navy for action in any weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Norwegian officials refused to participate in this British-American operation – which speaks of its “provocative essence.”

According to officials of the US Navy, these exercises are necessary in order for the US armed forces to be ready to operate in various climatic conditions, including in the Arctic. However, the Trump administration does not particularly hide its intentions to repulse other states – mainly Russia, but also assertive China – that are trying to establish control over strategically important Arctic territories.

As expected, Moscow was not happy about the joint British-American operation. Russian media reported that the Northern Fleet is actively monitoring American and British ships in the Barents Sea.

So far, there have been no reports of close contact between Russian and American ships – as well as news of high-profile statements by senior Russian officials. However, as The Washington Times notes, recalling that it carefully monitors what is happening, Moscow sent a clear signal that it considers this Arctic territory to be its own.

According to American officials, on May 1, they notified Russia of an impending operation in order to avoid an “unintentional exacerbation.”According to officials of the US Navy, these exercises are necessary in order for the US armed forces to be ready to operate in various climatic conditions, including in the Arctic. However, the Trump administration does not particularly hide its intentions to repulse other states – mainly Russia, but also assertive China – that are trying to establish control over strategically important Arctic territories.

As expected, Moscow was not happy about the joint British-American operation. Russian media reported that the Northern Fleet is actively monitoring American and British ships in the Barents Sea.

So far, there have been no reports of close contact between Russian and American ships – as well as news of high-profile statements by senior Russian officials. However, as The Washington Times notes, recalling that it carefully monitors what is happening, Moscow sent a clear signal that it considers this Arctic territory to be its own.

According to American officials, on May 1, they notified Russia of an impending operation in order to avoid an “unintentional exacerbation.”…………..

September 14, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

American TV news covers wildfires, but mostly is careful not to mention climate change

Most wildfire coverage on American TV news fails to mention link to climate crisis
A media watchdog analysis found that just 15% of broadcast news segments over a September weekend made the connection to climate breakdown,     Lois Beckett in Los Angeles and Maanvi Singh in San Francisco

Most news coverage of the wildfires raging in California, Washington and Oregon on American TV channels made no mention of the connection between the historic fires and climate crisis, according to a new analysis from Media Matters

Reviewing coverage aired over the 5-8 September holiday weekend, the progressive media watchdog group found that only 15% of corporate TV news segments on the fires mentioned the climate crisis. A separate analysis found that during the entire month of August only 4% of broadcast news wildfire coverage mentioned climate crisis.

Wildfires are raging in states across the American west, burning record acreage in California, Washington and Oregon. The wave of fires was first sparked and stoked by a spate of unusual weather in August, including rare lightning storms that hit parts of California that were vulnerable to fire because drought and heat had dried out vegetation. The fires came before low-elevation, coastal parts of the state reached peak fire season in the autumn when fierce offshore winds have driven the biggest fires in recent years.

The fires that hit Oregon in recent days were stoked by dry conditions and rare easterly winds.

Although untangling the weather conditions from climate crisis is complicated, it’s clear that overall, in recent years “fire risk is increasing dramatically because of climate change”, said Chris Field, who directs the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Global heating has given rise to drier, hotter conditions and more frequent, extreme droughts that have left the landscape tinder-dry and prone to explosive blazes.

Although California’s landscape has long been prone to fire, climate crisis has “put pressure on the entire system”, Field said, throwing it out of balance and giving rise to more extreme, catastrophic events. The current fires expanding with such explosive force have burned more acreage within a few weeks than what has burned in previous years.

A consensus of research has made clear that extreme heat and drought fueled by global heating has left the American west tinder-dry and especially vulnerable to runaway fires. A 2019 study found that from 1972 to 2018, California saw a five-fold increase in the areas that burned annually. Another study estimates that without human-caused climate crisis, the area that burned between 1984 and 2015 would have been half of what it actually was. And a research paper published last month suggests that the number of autumn days with “extreme fire weather” – when the risk of wildfires is extremely high – has more than doubled over the past two decades. “Our climate model analyses suggest that continued climate change will further amplify the number of days with extreme fire weather by the end of this century,” the researchers write, “though a pathway consistent with the UN Paris commitments would substantially curb that increase.”

Climate crisis is not the only factor driving the barrage of blazes across the region. Ironically, a century of suppressing fires – extinguishing the natural, necessary fires in western forests and other wildlands to protect homes and timber – has led to an accumulation of fire-fueling vegetation. “A deficit of fire, concatenated with the effects of climate change have led us here,” said Don Hankins, a fire ecologist at California State University, Chico.

Media Matters singled out two TV news journalists who are regularly talking about the role of climate crisis: the CBS meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli and NBC’s Al Roker.

The Media Matters analysis also noted that so far, 2020 has been the third year in a row during which corporate broadcast TV news discussed the impacts of climate crisis in fewer than 5% of wildfire segments.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | climate change, media, USA | Leave a comment

Compelling new documentary ‘I am Greta Thunberg’

Greta Thunberg warns of fallouts from climate change in powerful documentary trailer that gives goosebumps

Sweden’s teen climate change activist, Greta Thunberg’s documentary trailer grabs over 1.3 million views, makes hair stand on the ends with climate emergency warnings ahead of cinematic release worldwide starting October 16

Sep 13, 2020, Zarafshan Shiraz, Hindustan Times, Delhi  An unprecedented global climate emergency is no secret but many choose to ignore it amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Sweden’s teen activist Greta Thunberg will be shining a light on the same in her upcoming documentary ‘I am Greta Thunberg’. Featuring how the 17-year-old from Stockholm became a global figurehead for climate action, the documentary is set for a cinematic release worldwide starting October 16 but its recent trailer was enough to give viewers goosebumps.

Taking to her Instagram handle, Greta shared the powerful trailer that warned of fallouts from climate change and grabbed over 1.3 million views while still going strong. The compelling, never-before-seen footage in the intimate documentary, from Swedish director Nathan Grossman, follows Greta from her one-person school strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament to her extraordinary wind-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City.

Grossman also tracks Greta as a shy student with Asperger’s Syndrome, her rise to prominence, meeting some of the most powerful politicians in the world and her galvanizing global impact as she sparks school strikes around the world. The trailer is sure to leave one not only emotional but also fired-up with hair standing on the end.

It premiered at the Venice Film Festival and debunks some of the criticisms on her by showing her writing her own speeches and other facts that establish her to be the sole driving force in the campaign and not her parents or other environmental interests. Grossman also documents the real the pressures that accumulated on her as the campaign grew.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Suffolk County Council unable to back £20billion Sizewell new nuclear power station as the present plan stands

East Anglian Daily Times 11th Sept 2020, Suffolk County Council has today said it cannot give its backing to proposals for a £20billion new nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast without changes and more work to the plans. The council has cited “significant concerns” over transport, design and environmental impact in the plans for Sizewell C submitted by EDF Energy. A report to go before the council’s cabinet on September 22 said current proposals do not sufficiently avoid, minimise, mitigate or compensate impacts of the proposed development.
It says many issues raised in previous rounds of consultations remain outstanding, and the lack of improvement and progress
regarding many of these issues is “very disappointing” considering how early in the development process the council raised its concerns. The draft Relevant Representation lists the areas where it believes EDF Energy needs to undertake further work. Council leader Matthew Hicks added: “Suffolk County Council has always supported the principle of a new nuclear power station at Sizewell, recognising the important contribution to the national energy strategy and the large economic boost such a development could bring
to our county.
“Our position has always been that we needed to see if the advantages could outweigh the disadvantages. Unfortunately, as these plans stand, the disadvantages heavily outweigh the advantages. There is much work for EDF to do in addressing our concerns and the concerns of our communities.”

September 14, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Importance of the ocean’s biological carbon pump

September 14, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Suttsu, Hokkaido, residents oppose radioactive waste dump plan

Residents Oppose Hokkaido Town’s Radioactive Waste Site Plan   Suttsu, Hokkaido, Sept. 11 (Jiji Press)–Many residents of a Japanese town considering hosting a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste have voiced opposition to the plan at a briefing session organized by the municipal government.The meeting was the fourth of its kind for residents of the town of Suttsu in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido. The first such session was held on Monday.

At Thursday’s meeting, which was opened to the press, Suttsu Mayor Haruo Kataoka explained the reasons for considering applying for a literature survey, the first stage of a three-stage research process to select the location of the final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

Some 260 residents attended the session, which lasted for over three hours from 6:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. GMT).

Participating residents voiced concerns that the move will lead to harmful rumors about the town, and that if the town receives subsidies from the Japanese government as a result of applying for the literature survey, it will have no choice but to become a final disposal site. Some said that detailed discussions should be held after the mayoral election in the town next year.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Magnox nuclear clear-up cost soars to £9bn

September 14, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A powerful message on the seismic dangers in Hinkley Point C nuclear construction. It would be cheaper to pull out now.

Radiation Free Lakeland 12th Sept 2020, Seismic Warnings – if not now when will the Government Scrap Hinkley C? This week there was yet another earthquake recorded in the Bristol area. It was small but significant, contributing to the well documented seismic activity of the area. If eyewatering costs, long delays, a mental and physical health crisis among the employees building Hinkley Point C are not enough to scrap this hubristic nuclear new build plan then the seismic warnings should be.

This insane project next to operational reactors has seen the geological stresses of the biggest pours of concrete in the UK
alongside three huge tunnels being bored below the seabed. German based multi-national company Herrenknecht built the hugely expensive tunnel boring machines which will be dumped under the Bristol Channel once done.

A total of 38,000 concrete segments are needed to support the tunnels, which would transfer 120,000 litres of water per second for the new nuclear plant when finished. The Bristol area is seismically active so to put increased geological stress deliberately in the vicinity of existing nuclear reactors is the kind of hubris that disaster movies are made of.

Scrapping Hinkley C now and paying off the developers would be far cheaper and far safer than continuing down this route to nuclear disaster.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Arizona’s cancer toll from nuclear testing: the fight for recognition and compensation

Arizona’s ‘downwinders,’ exposed to Cold War nuclear testing, fight for compensation, “It’s a travesty, and the government should not be alloweto get away with it,” one Mohave County, Arizona, resident said. NBC News, Sept. 13, 2020, By Anita Hassan, KINGMAN, Ariz. — Danielle Stephens ran her fingers down a long list of her relatives’ names and sighed.

All of them had been diagnosed with cancer. Most of them had died, many before they were 55.

Like Stephens, 81, they had all spent their lives in Kingman, Arizona, where during the Cold War they often watched the early morning sky lit up by orange flashes from atomic bombs detonated at a government testing site in the Nevada desert less than 150 miles north of the city.

“Back then, no one thought the tests were dangerous,” said Stephens, who ran a cattle ranch with her husband.

The list of her family members with cancer grew to 32 in July, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It is the radiation exposure from those nuclear tests that Stephens believes caused her cancer and that of her family members and scores of others who lived in lower Mohave County in the 1950s and ’60s. Her relatives had breast, colon, thyroid and kidney cancer, all of which have been linked to radioactive fallout.

“I just think it’s a travesty, and the government should not be allowed to get away with it,” Stephens said.

The federal government enacted a compensation program for “downwinders,” those who lived near the Nevada Test Site and suffered cancers linked to radiation from the nuclear blasts. However, unlike residents in other parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah, the residents of Kingman and lower Mohave County have never been compensated by the federal government.

Lower Mohave County residents don’t know why the federal government left them out of the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, known as RECA. Neither do lawmakers who’ve fought for years to broaden the program. With RECA scheduled to end in 2022, they say, it’s urgent to include residents like Stephens and her neighbors and relatives.

We want to make sure that all of the families impacted are appropriately recognized and compensated,” said Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., who along with Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., introduced legislation this year that would expand RECA to include all of Mohave County, as well as Clark County, Nevada, most of which was also left out of the compensation program.

“They suffered so that we could advance American defense systems at the time that we were testing nuclear missiles, and now we owe it to them to do our part to make sure that they are recognized, acknowledged and compensated,” Stanton said.

Stephens spent more than a decade as the president of the Mohave County Downwinders, sending letters to legislators and collecting personal stories. She hopes she and other downwinders can see those changes in their lifetimes.

“We fought so long for so many years,” she said. “I want it resolved.”

The dangers and fallout of atomic testing were unknown to the public when testing began at the Nevada Test Site, now known as the Nevada National Security Site. One hundred of the nuclear tests at the site from 1951 to 1962 were above ground.

Stephens said getting a glimpse of the flashes or enormous mushroom clouds was a form of entertainment. Detonation times and dates were advertised in newspapers. Children were given short recesses on testing days to stand in the schoolyard and to watch the explosions turn the sky orange. In Las Vegas, only 65 miles from the testing site, businesses billed the tests as tourist attractions to view from hotel windows.

Stephens recalls that as a teenager in 1953, she, her father, her uncle and her brother rode on horseback into the Aquarius Mountains to get a better view of one of the nuclear explosions. As they watched the plume shoot into the sky, they could feel the wind blow the smoke and dust toward them. They hurried to get off the mountain, trying to escape the fallout. But by the time they returned home, their clothes were coated with oily pink stains, Stephens said.

“So about everyone up there got cancer,” she said. Her father died of colon and kidney cancer. Her brother, who is still alive, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Colon cancer, which Stephens is also diagnosed with, is covered under RECA.

RECA, created in 1990 and administered by the Justice Department, entitles people to one-time payments of up to $50,000 if they developed certain cancers and lived for at least two years in certain counties of Nevada, Arizona and Utah from 1951 to 1962. It also offers compensation to on-site participants and uranium workers. The program has approved more than 23,000 downwinder claims, paying more than $1.1 billion.

But only a small part of Mohave County that lies just north of the Grand Canyon was covered. In 2000, amendments expanded the boundaries, adding five more Arizona counties, but still lower Mohave County was left out.

“It’s closer to the Nevada Test Site than any other county in Arizona,” said Laura Taylor, a lawyer who focuses on RECA claims. She pointed to a 1997 study by the National Cancer Institute that found twice the amount of radiation exposure in lower Mohave County compared to other Arizona counties, such as Gila and Yavapai, which are much farther east of the Nevada Test Site but are now covered by RECA. “It really just doesn’t make any sense.”

According to a report by Arizona health officials, Mohave County had one of the highest average cancer rates in the state from 1999 to 2001.

Taylor believes that lower Mohave County may have been left out because, at the time of RECA’s creation, the county’s closest member of Congress was based in Phoenix. Gosar, who’s spent five years trying to amend RECA to include Mohave County, said he believes that it’s been difficult to gain traction because other lawmakers may view the issue as affecting a small group of people or because the federal government doesn’t want to issue more payments.

“The government also never likes to admit it made a mistake,” he said.

In February, Stanton and Gosar introduced their latest bill to include all of Mohave and Clark counties in RECA. However, COVID-19 has limited congressional hearings, and it hasn’t moved out of the Judiciary Committee.

In July, Stanton and Gosar tried instead to introduce the expansion as an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, but it failed. They say they will try to include the language in coronavirus stimulus bills this fall.

If that doesn’t work, they plan to introduce a new bill during the next congressional session in January.

Eddie Pattillo, a retired construction manager, said acknowledgment by the government that lower Mohave County had been affected by nuclear fallout would mean more to him than monetary compensation……….

September 14, 2020 Posted by | health, legal, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN nuclear ban treaty needs 6 more ratifications

UN nuclear ban treaty needs 6 more ratifications, An international NGO is stepping up its call for countries to ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Six more ratifications are needed for the treaty to come into force.

The treaty prohibits the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons and was adopted with the support of 122 countries and territories three years ago.

Ireland and three other countries ratified the treaty last month, bringing the total number of ratifications to 44. The latest ratifications coincided with the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, plans to calls on more countries to ratify the treaty in events at the UN headquarters to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on October 2 and United Nations Day on October 24.

The treaty will come into effect 90 days after the number of ratifications reaches 50.

Nuclear powers, as well as Japan and other countries protected by the US nuclear umbrella, have not signed it.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The sorry history of the Vogtle nuclear boondoggle: it must be stopped.

At crucial crossroads, nuclear plant must be stopped,  By Glenn Carroll,  Sep 12, 2020 .

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate change and the loss of sea otters

Loss of sea otters accelerating the effects of climate change, New research published in Science reveals that the influence of a key predator governs the pace of climate impacts on Alaskan reefs  EurekAlert, BIGELOW LABORATORY FOR OCEAN SCIENCES , 13 Sept 20,  The impacts of predator loss and climate change are combining to devastate living reefs that have defined Alaskan kelp forests for centuries, according to new research published in Science.

“We discovered that massive limestone reefs built by algae underpin the Aleutian Islands’ kelp forest ecosystem,” said Douglas Rasher, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the lead author of the study. “However, these long-lived reefs are now disappearing before our eyes, and we’re looking at a collapse likely on the order of decades rather than centuries.”

The coral-like reefs, built by the red alga Clathromorphum nereostratum, are being ground down by sea urchins. Sea urchins exploded in number after their predator, the Aleutian sea otter, became functionally extinct in the 1990’s. Without the urchins’ natural predator to keep them in check, urchins have transformed the seascape – first by mowing down the dense kelp forests, and now by turning their attention to the coralline algae that form the reef.

Clathromorphum produces a limestone skeleton that protects the organism from grazers and, over hundreds of years, forms a complex reef that nurtures a rich diversity of sea life. With kelp gone from the menu, urchins are now boring through the alga’s tough protective layer to eat the alga – a process that has become much easier due to climate change.

“Ocean warming and acidification are making it difficult for calcifying organisms to produce their shells, or in this case, the alga’s protective skeleton,” said Rasher, who led the international team of researchers that included coauthors Jim Estes from UC Santa Cruz and Bob Steneck from University of Maine. “This critical species has now become highly vulnerable to urchin grazing – right as urchin abundance is peaking. It’s a devasting combination.”………..

The results of the experiment confirmed that climate change has recently allowed urchins to breach the alga’s defenses, pushing this system beyond a critical tipping point.

“It’s well documented that humans are changing Earth’s ecosystems by altering the climate and by removing large predators, but scientists rarely study those processes together,” Rasher said. “If we had only studied the effects of climate change on Clathromorphum in the laboratory, we would have arrived at very different conclusions about the vulnerability and future of this species. Our study shows that we must view climate change through an ecological lens, or we’re likely to face many surprises in the coming years.”……..

September 14, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, environment, Reference | Leave a comment