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Politics in the age of pandemics, global heating, and nuclear danger – theme for November 20

For November, we’ve been focussed on international politics – because of these massive threats, and because of the importance to the world of the American election.

With the win of Joe Biden as President -elect, the nuclear lobby has been revitalised, and already their propaganda  war  is swinging  into  action.   But this renewed nuclear threat is being either ignored or encouraged by the mainstream media.   Everyone seems to be getting informed about the pandemic and the climate,  but  not about the equally grave nuclear threats.   Which is why, from now on, this site will return to its original focus on matters nuclear.

Tensions as Armenia- Azerbaijan conflict pauses. War in Syria grinds on. USA and China already in some sort of cold war. National pride and one-up-manship are perpetually on display among the leaders of countries.  Nationalist and populist leaders seem to be in charge, with competitiveness and dog-eat-dog as their prevailing philosophy.

All this – when the global threats of pandemic, climate change, and nuclear danger clearly require co-operation between nations, if we are to have any hope for a decent future – indeed – perhaps any future, for the human species, and for the rest of the other species, too.

It is time for political leaders to pay attention to the efforts of global bodies, the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and the many international agencies that work for the public good. What a timely winner for the Nobel Peace Prize was the United Nations World Food Programme!

As I write, the world watches in amazement the tortuous path of Joe Biden to the American electionpresidency. .  The disastrous results of four years of the Trump presidency for the United States will take some fixing.   A rational team in the White House could begin the change that the world needs –   co-operation between the powerful nations to address the threats that now preoccupy the world’s people.

 

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Christina's themes, politics international | 4 Comments

Global heating is unravelling the Arctic, much faster than expected

The Arctic is in a death spiral. How much longer will it exist?
The region is unravelling faster than anyone could once have predicted. But there may still be time to act
The great thaw: global heating upends life on Arctic permafrost – photo essay, Guardian, 
Gloria Dickie, Tue 13 Oct 2020 At the end of July, 40% of the 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf, located on the north-western edge of Ellesmere Island, calved into the sea. Canada’s last fully intact ice shelf was no more.On the other side of the island, the most northerly in Canada, the St Patrick’s Bay ice caps completely disappeared.

Two weeks later, scientists concluded that the Greenland Ice Sheet may have already passed the point of no return. Annual snowfall is no longer enough to replenish the snow and ice loss during summer melting of the territory’s 234 glaciers. Last year, the ice sheet lost a record amount of ice, equivalent to 1 million metric tons every minute.

The Arctic is unravelling. And it’s happening faster than anyone could have imagined just a few decades ago. Northern Siberia and the Canadian Arctic are now warming three times faster than the rest of the world. In the past decade, Arctic temperatures have increased by nearly 1C. If greenhouse gas emissions stay on the same trajectory, we can expect the north to have warmed by 4C year-round by the middle of the century.

There is no facet of Arctic life that remains untouched by the immensity of change here, except perhaps the eternal dance between light and darkness. The Arctic as we know it – a vast icy landscape where reindeer roam, polar bears feast, and waters teem with cod and seals – will soon be frozen only in memory.

A new Nature Climate Change study predicts that summer sea ice floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean could disappear entirely by 2035. Until relatively recently, scientists didn’t think we would reach this point until 2050 at the earliest. Reinforcing this finding, last month Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest extent in the 41-year satellite record………

At outposts in the Canadian Arctic, permafrost is thawing 70 years sooner than predicted. Roads are buckling. Houses are sinking. In Siberia, giant craters pockmark the tundra as temperatures soar, hitting 100F (38C) in the town of Verkhoyansk in July. This spring, one of the fuel tanks at a Russian power plant collapsed and leaked 21,000 metric tons of diesel into nearby waterways, which attributed the cause of the spill to subsiding permafrost.

This thawing permafrost releases two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into the atmosphere and exacerbates planetary warming.

The soaring heat leads to raging wildfires, now common in hotter and drier parts of the Arctic. In recent summers, infernos have torn across the tundra of Sweden, Alaska, and Russia, destroying native vegetation………..

Melting ice has made the region’s abundant mineral deposits and oil and gas reserves more accessible by ship. China is heavily investing in the increasingly ice-free Northern Sea Route over the top of Russia, which promises to cut shipping times between the Far East and Europe by 10 to 15 days.

The Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago could soon yield another shortcut. And in Greenland, vanishing ice is unearthing a wealth of uranium, zinc, gold, iron and rare earth elements. In 2019, Donald Trump claimed he was considering buying Greenland from Denmark. Never before has the Arctic enjoyed such political relevance………….

Stopping climate change in the Arctic requires an enormous reduction in the emission of fossil fuels, and the world has made scant progress despite obvious urgency. Moreover, many greenhouse gases persist in our atmosphere for years. Even if we were to cease all emissions tomorrow, it would take decades for those gases to dissolve and for temperatures to stabilize (though some recent research suggests the span could be shorter). In the interim, more ice, permafrost, and animals would be lost.

“It’s got to be both a reduction in emissions and carbon capture at this point,” explains Stroeve. “We need to take out what we’ve already put in there.”………..

The Arctic of the past is already gone. Following our current climate trajectory, it will be impossible to return to the conditions we saw just three decades ago. Yet many experts believe there’s still time to act, to preserve what once was, if the world comes together to prevent further harm and conserve what remains of this unique and fragile ecosystem. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2020/oct/13/arctic-ice-melting-climate-change-global-warming?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco&fbclid=IwAR0SmRG-W9vZp_dvqJIA_s4rUHo4CXVjgWSgnapv_EsoboQgosU8OsTL78A

October 15, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Tuvalu – the 47th nation to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

October 15, 2020 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s pre-election plan for nuclear deal with Russia has fizzled out badly

Trump Thought He Had a Nuclear Deal With Putin. Not So Fast, Russia Said.
Trump administration officials want to broaden the New START accord and warn that the price of a new deal will rise after the election. Joe Biden supports a straight five-year extension of the deal.  NYT, By David E. Sanger and Andrew E. Kramer  14 Oct 20, President Trump had a pre-election plan to show he had gotten something out of his mysteriously friendly relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

In the weeks before the election, the two men would announce that they had reached an agreement in principle to extend New START, the last remaining major arms control agreement between the two countries. It expires on Feb. 5, two weeks after the next presidential inauguration.

Mr. Trump has long refused to sign off on a clean five-year extension of the agreement, a step both leaders could take without Senate approval. He has described the Obama-era treaty as deeply flawed — the same thing he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear accord — because it did not cover all of Russia’s nuclear arms, or any of China’s….

On Tuesday, Marshall Billingslea, Mr. Trump’s lead negotiator, announced that the two leaders had an “agreement in principle, at the highest levels of our two governments, to extend the treaty.” Mr. Billingslea described an added “gentleman’s agreement” to cap each country’s stockpile of weapons not currently deployed on missiles, submarines or bombers. Details needed to be worked out, he cautioned, including the tricky work of verifying compliance.

It sounded like a promising solution, for a few hours.

Then the Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, shot back that this was a figment of someone’s election-season imagination. “Washington is describing what is desired, not what is real,” he said in a statement.

With less than three weeks to Election Day, it seems no agreement is in the offing, and Trump administration officials are saying that, after the election, the price will go up. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee who was involved in the negotiation of the original agreement in 2010, has indicated that, if elected, he will agree to a straightforward, immediate extension of the accord for five years, the maximum allowed under the current terms, and then work to expand its scope. ……..

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, joined the Kremlin’s dismissal of prospects for an agreement before the election, saying the Trump administration’s one-sided announcement of a nuclear limitation deal was an “unclean” diplomatic maneuver…….https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/us/politics/trump-russia-nuclear-deal.html

October 15, 2020 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea, with its new intercontinental-range ballistic missile makes it clear that it is a nuclear weapons nation

A Nuclear North Korea’s Wake-up Call, A spectacular pre-dawn parade on Saturday served to remind the world of North Korea’s continuing missile progress.  The Diplomat, By Ankit Panda, October 13, 2020  On Saturday, October 10, North Korea celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), the country’s ruling party. The occasion was celebrated in a grand way, with an unprecedented pre-dawn military parade. Thousands of uniformed military personnel marched through Pyongyang’s renovated Kim Il Sung Square in perfect unison, trailed by scores of heavy military vehicles……..

A ‘New Strategic Weapon,’ As Promised

The parade reached its climax with the reveal of an all-new intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) design. Prior to the parade, North Korea’s largest known nuclear-capable ballistic missile was the Hwasong-15, the ICBM that was tested for the first (and so far only) time in November 2017. After four Hwasong-15s rolled through Kim Il Sung Square, an even larger missile appeared in its wake. Four of these super-large ICBMs followed in the wake of the Hwasong-15s, in a single file formation. Not only were these missiles the largest ever to be seen in North Korea, they were the largest road-mobile missiles on integrated launchers seen anywhere in the world……….

For the United States, this missile is not good news. Not only does it underscore the failure of the Trump administration’s diplomatic attempts to constrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs; it also emphasizes the continuing growth of Pyongyang’s qualitative capabilities. A lot remains unknown about the precise capabilities of this new missile, but its sheer size certainly implies that it would be capable of carrying and delivering multiple nuclear reentry vehicles to likely the entire continental U.S. As North Korea’s weapons-grade fissile material stocks continue to grow, it likely will have enough fissile material on hand to justify allocating resources toward a multiple reentry vehicle capability. ………

By adding warheads to its ICBMs, North Korea will improve the probability that at least one of its thermonuclear reentry vehicles successfully penetrates U.S. missile defenses. To keep up with changes in North Korea’s growing force, the U.S. will have to spend hundreds of millions adding interceptors. North Korea, meanwhile, even under economic sanctions, appears fully capable of continuing to expand its ICBM capabilities………

Despite the nighttime setting, Kim’s reveal of his new ICBM made it clear as day that North Korea remained a capable and growing nuclear state………

What the parade does in the end is clarify the big picture about North Korea’s status as a nuclear weapons possessor: its nuclear forces grow larger and more refined with every passing week. Having largely crossed the qualitative thresholds it felt were needed for a rudimentary and minimally credible deterrent in 2017, Pyongyang is continuing to evolve its force.

Ankit Panda is editor-at-large at The Diplomat, the Stanton senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of ‘Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea’ (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2020). Follow him on Twitter at @nktpnd. https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/a-nuclear-north-koreas-wake-up-call/

October 15, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

35 crew on secretive HMS Vigilant £3billion nuclear submarine tested positive for Covid

Quarter of crew on £3billion nuclear submarine dubbed ‘HMS sex and cocaine’ test positive for coronavirus after defying orders and going drinking at bars and strip clubs near US naval base

  • 35 crew on secretive HMS Vigilant tested positive for Covid, source revealed
  • Among those who tested positive were a doctor and an executive officer
  • Nuclear weapons codes are known by that executive officer and 1 other person
  • Sailors defied orders while docked at the Kings Bay US Navy base in Georgia

Daily Mail By JEMMA CARR FOR MAILONLINE 14 October 2020   A £3billion nuclear submarine dubbed ‘HMS Sex and Cocaine’ has seen a coronavirus outbreak among its rule-breaking crew.

Highly-secretive HMS Vigilant saw more than 35 crew members test positive after several left the Kings Bay US Navy base in Georgia, a source has revealed.

Among those who tested positive – a quarter of the vessels team – was a doctor and an executive officer.

The codes to deploy the nuclear weapons stored on the submarine are known only by that executive officer and one other person, reports suggest.

Sailors defied orders to go to strip clubs, bars and restaurants in Georgia – which has seen 318,000 coronavirus cases and 7,282 deaths.

One trip saw them travel 200 miles away to a beach in Florida, an insider said…….. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8837335/Quarter-crew-3billion-nuclear-submarine-dubbed-test-positive-coronavirus.html

October 15, 2020 Posted by | health, UK | Leave a comment

Confusion as USA- Russia nuclear arms talks fail

Nuclear arms talks spiral into confusion as Russia rejects US ‘delusion’,  Top US negotiator claimed there was ‘an agreement in principle’ between Trump and Putin, Guardian, Julian Borger in WashingtonWed 14 Oct 2020  US-Russian nuclear arms control talks have sunk into confusion after the top American negotiator claimed there was “an agreement in principle” between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, a claim Moscow quickly rejected as a “delusion”. ………

The US had previously insisted that China be included in any future arms control negotiations rather than extending the bilateral arrangements in New Start, but Billingslea has dropped that demand in recent weeks, accepting that trilateral talks could be arranged later.

Alexandra Bell, a former state department official and now senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said the pre-election urgency followed “literally months of the Trump administration saying there’s plenty of time to do this – there’s no rush”.

The Trump administration has been keen to showcase foreign policy achievements before the election, but over the past four years, it has pulled out of three arms control agreements and signed none……..

Senior parliamentarians from across Europe wrote to their US counterparts on Tuesday urging them to support a New Start extension.

In the letter, organised by the European Leadership Network, the MPs from 19 countries said: “As officials who strive to protect the health and security of millions of European citizens, we feel distressed by the possibility that New Start may lapse in less than six months.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/13/us-russia-arms-control-talks-new-start-treaty

October 15, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

Ohio lawmakers likely to repeal the tainted nuclear bailout law, after November 3

October 15, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

800-meter-long seawall being constructed, as Japan plans to reopen damaged Onagawa nuclear complex

October 15, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

USA starts off $3.2 billion subsidy program with $80 million each for “next generation” nuclear reactors

October 15, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

UK: consultation with 2300 people about radioactive waste dump – only 13 people supported it.

Northern Echo 13th Oct 2020, THOUSANDS of people have written to the Environment Agency over concerns that plans to dump radioactive waste in Teesside will pose a risk to
communities. An application has been made by Augean North Ltd for a low
level radioactive waste permit at their existing Port Clarence site,
between Stockton and Billingham.

The Environment Agency, which held a
consultation which ended in January, published its report yesterday. About
2,300 people took part in the four-month exercise, with only 13 supporting
the application.

The Environment Agency is now considering these in
determining whether to grant the permit, taking into account information
submitted by Augean North. The operator has been asked to provide further
information, with a decision expected to be made by the end of January
2021.

Members of the public, as well members of Stockton on Tees Borough
Council and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council commented on the
socioeconomic impact and the general impact on the area, as well as the
potential impact on regeneration plans. Last year, Tees Valley Mayor Ben
Houchen criticised the plans, which he said were against the interests of
those living in surrounding areas. The report can be viewed by visiting
consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/north-east/port-clarence-landfill-permit-application

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/18791632.2-000-objections-made-augean-north-port-clarence-nuclear-plans/

October 15, 2020 Posted by | public opinion, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Exelon to offload its nuclear power stations?

Exelon weighs shedding nuclear plants, other non-utility assets, Kiel Porter, Bloomberg News , 14 Oct 20,   Exelon Corp. is considering a breakup that would involve separating its non-utility assets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Chicago-based company is working with advisers to evaluate the split, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. No final decision has been made and Exelon could opt to keep its current structure, they said…….

Exelon’s non-utility operations include 21 nuclear reactors as well several solar, wind and natural-gas generating assets, according to its website. A potential split would leave Exelon focused on the regulated power market, with a portfolio that includes a half-dozen utilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and elsewhere.

Power companies are increasingly unloading unregulated assets to focus on their utilities, in part because investors prefer pure-play businesses. DTE Energy Inc. is considering unloading its non-utilities businesses, people familiar with the matter said last week. Dominion Energy Inc. agreed to sell its natural gas infrastructure earlier this year to Berkshire Hathaway Inc………

Christopher Crane said the company regularly evaluates whether to split up its utility and non-utility assets.

“One thing I can tell you is there’s an annual review on all the non-nuclear assets to see if they propose more value to others than we have projected for ourselves, and that annual review will continue,” he said. “And as we see assets that could perform better in somebody else’s portfolio and we could monetize those assets, we’ll do that.”Christopher Crane said the company regularly evaluates whether to split up its utility and non-utility assets. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/exelon-weighs-shedding-nuclear-plants-other-non-utility-assets-1.1507251

October 15, 2020 Posted by | USA | Leave a comment

USA to market nuclear reactor to Bulgaria

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Bulgaria, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

Book review: GAMBLING WITH ARMAGEDDON

Coming Close to Nuclear Holocaust, NYT,  By Talmage Boston, GAMBLING WITH ARMAGEDDON, Nuclear Roulette From Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1945-1962, By Martin J. Sherwin   On Aug. 6, 1945, after Hiroshima was destroyed, President Truman declared the atomic bomb “the greatest thing in history.” On Oct. 21, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy confided to a friend, “The world really is impossible to manage so long as we have nuclear weapons.” The two statements sum up the changes in thinking between those two dates.

Benefiting from more than a half century of hindsight, the Pulitzer-winning historian Martin J. Sherwin delivers a well-researched and reasoned analysis of nuclear weapons’ impact from 1945 to 1962 in “Gambling With Armageddon.” The book should become the definitive account of its subject.

Sherwin has three themes. First, history proves that the disadvantages of nuclear weapons outweigh their advantages. Yes, the A-bomb brought a quick end to World War II, but Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Oppenheimer both believed Japan’s defeat was imminent without the bomb. And while it tipped the balance of power until the Soviets developed their own nuclear weapon in 1949, this brief American advantage produced no geopolitical gains…….

The book’s final lesson is the unsettling one that regardless of how many wise decisions get made by prudent leaders,

 good luck is crucial. Sherwin reveals that on Day 12 of the crisis, a Soviet captain overruled a flawed order to unleash
a nuclear missile on American ships blockading Cuba. Similarly, an American Air Force captain refused to fire a nuke
into China until he double-checked the accuracy of what proved to be a mistaken communication. The little-known
 captains Vasily Arkhipov and William Bassett thereby become elevated onto the pedestal with Kennedy and

October 15, 2020 Posted by | resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bribery Probe Into a Nuclear Plant Bailout Examines Facilities’ Owner

Bribery Probe Into a Nuclear Plant Bailout Examines Facilities’ Owner

Energy Harbor asked to turn over documents as federal prosecutors investigate nature of company’s payments to Ohio lawmaker…(subscribers only)  https://www.wsj.com/articles/bribery-probe-into-a-nuclear-plant-bailout-examines-facilities-owner-11602688931

October 15, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment