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Anti-nuclear resistance in Russia: problems, protests, reprisals

Anti-nuclear resistance in Russia: problems protests, reprisals

Standing up to Rosatom

 https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/06/21/standing-up-to-rosatom/      June 21, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational  

Anti-nuclear resistance in Russia: problems protests, reprisals

The following is a report from the Russian Social Ecological Union (RSEU)/ Friends of the Earth Russia, slightly edited for length. You can read the report in full here. It is a vitally important document exposing the discrimination and fear tactics used against anti-nuclear organizers in Russia and details their courageous acts of defiance in order to bring the truth of Russia’s nuclear sector to light.

Rosatom is a Russian state-owned corporation which builds and operates nuclear power plants in Russia and globally. The state-run nuclear industry in Russia has a long history of nuclear crises, including the Kyshtym disaster in 1957 and Chernobyl in 1986. Yet Rosatom plans to build dozens of nuclear reactors in Russia, to export its deadly nuclear technologies to other countries, and then to import their hazardous nuclear waste.

This report is a collection of events and details about the resistance to Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, and other activities that have led to the pollution of the environment and violation of human rights. Social and environmental conflicts created by Rosatom have been left unresolved for years, while at the same time, environmental defenders who have raised these issues, have consistently experienced reprisals.

Nuclear energy: failures and LiesIn the autumn of 2017, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered a concentration of the technogenic radionuclide ruthenium–106 in the atmosphere of several European countries. A number of experts linked the ruthenium release to the Mayak plant in the Chelyabinsk Region2 3, but Rosatom continues to deny this.

On the 8th of August 2019, an explosion occurred during a test of a liquid rocket launcher at a marine training ground in Nenoksa Village of Arkhangelsk Region. The administration of the city of Severodvinsk, 30 km from the scene, reported an increase in radiation levels, but later denied the claim. The Ministry of Emergency registered an increase of 20 times (to2 μSv/h) around Severodvinsk, while the Ministry of Defense reported the radiation level as normal. Only two days later, Rosatom reported that five employees were killed and three were injured at the test site. According to media reports, two employees of the Ministry of Defense were also killed and three were injured, and medical personnel who helped the victims were not informed about the risk of radiation exposure.

Expired reactorsMore than 70% of Russian nuclear reactors are outdated. They were developed in the 1970s and were designed to operate for only 30 years. The lifetimes of such reactors have been extended by twice the design limit. Rosatom’s strategy also includes a dangerous increase of the reactor’s thermal power. Rostekhnadzor (Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service) grants licenses for lifetime extensions without an environmental impact assessment and without public consultations.

Especially worrying are the lifetime extensions of reactor-types with design flaws. Chernobyl–type (RBMK) reactors in Leningrad, Smolensk and Kursk regions are still in operation after exceeding their lifetimes, as well as VVER–types, such as at the Kola nuclear power plant (NPP) in Murmansk region. Neither type has a sufficient protective shell to contain radioactivity in case of an accident or to protect the reactor from an external impact or influence.

For many years, Murmansk regional environmental groups have opposed the aging Kola NPP reactor’s lifetime extension. They have participated in public hearings, have organised many demonstrations, and appealed to and received support from the prosecutor’s office, but this was all ignored by Rosatom.

Activists also called on the governor to shut down the old NPP, but environmental organisations were shut down instead. One such organisation is Kola Environmental Center (KEC) – listed as a Foreign Agent in 2017 – and subject to two trials and fined 150,000 rubles. KEC was forced to close down as a legal entity in 2018, but has continued its environmental work as a public movement.

Decommissioning problemsMost of the Russian nuclear power plants, despite their lifetime extensions, are approaching inevitable closure. Over the next 15 years, the NPP decommissioning process will take place. Currently, 36 power units are in operation at 11 NPPs in Russia, and 7 units have been shut down. While the fuel was removed from 5 of these units, the NPPs have not yet been decommissioned. This process will lead to enormous amounts of nuclear waste. Moreover, sufficient funds for the decommissioning process have not yet been earmarked.

The public organisation, Green World, has worked for many years in Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad Region, a city dominated by the nuclear industry and closed to outsiders. Since 1988, activists of the organisation have opposed dangerous nuclear projects in the Baltic Sea region and have provided the public with independent information on the environmental situation.

Green World has consistently called for the decommissioning of Leningrad NPP and took an early lead in collecting and preparing information on how decommissioning should take place, studying the experience of other countries. They have paid particular attention to information transparency and to wide participation in decision–making, including, for example, former employees of the nuclear industry.

Rather than be met with cooperation, the organisation and its activists have, since the beginning, experienced pressure from the authorities and the dirty nuclear industry. Activists faced dismissal, lawsuits and even attempts on their lives.In 2015, Green World was listed as a Foreign Agent and forced to close. In its place, another organisation was opened – the Public Council of the South Coast of the Gulf of Finland. Activists have continued their work as before under this new name.

Uranium mining protest

In the Kurgan region, Rosatom’s subsidiary company, Dalur, has been mining uranium and the local communities fear an environmental disaster. In the summer of 2019, the state environmental appraisal revealed a discrepancy between Dalur’s documentation and the Russian legislation requirements, but the company started the deposit’s development anyway at the end of 2019.

  • The ‘Dobrovolnoe’ uranium deposit is located in a floodplain of the Tobol river basin. This means that all the water that flows into the river will pass through the aquifer, flushing out radioactive and toxic compounds into the surrounding environment.
  • Since 2017, Kurgan activists have been protesting against the development of the deposit. They have appealed to the authorities and begun protests. One of their videos, ‘Uranium is Death for Kurgan’, has already reached 50,000 views. Several times, activists have tried to start a referendum and demand an independent environmental review, but so far, have received only refusals from the local officials.
  • In February 2018, Natalia Shulyatieva, the spouse of activist Andrey Shulyatiev and mother of three children, died after falling into a coma. Activists believe this occurred in reaction to learning that Dalur had filed a lawsuit against her husband, accusing him of undermining the company’s reputation. The lawsuit was withdrawn following Shulyatieva’s death.

Rosatom Importing uranium waste

In the fall of 2019, environmentalists revealed that radioactive and toxic waste (uranium hexafluoride, UF6) were being imported from Germany through the port of Amsterdam into Russia. This is the waste from the uranium enrichment process which will be sent to the Urals or Siberia and stored in containers above the ground. Thus, under the auspices of a commercial transaction, the German uranium–enriching enterprise, Urenco, avoids its nuclear waste problem,

while Rosatom profits by taking the hazardous waste into Russia.In response to this transaction, the groups Russian Social–Ecological Union, Ecodefense and Greenpeace Russia called on Russian civil society to protest. More than 30 organisations and movements joined the common statement, and various demonstrations have taken place in Russia, as well as in Germany and the Netherlands.

As a result of protests, the question of importing radioactive waste was taken up by the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg and the transportation of the waste was delayed for three months.

However, in March 2020, when people in Russia were further restricted from protests during the COVID–19 virus quarantine, the import of radioactive waste was resumed through the port of the less populated town of Ust–Luga in Leningrad Region. Additional organisations and residents of the Leningrad region then decided to join the earlier anti–nuclear statement and protest.

Following these protests, a number of activists have faced persecution. Novouralsk is a nuclear industry–dominated and closed city of Sverdlovsk region, and is the end destination of the transported uranium hexafluoride. In response to a series of one–person protests, authorities initiated legal cases against three pensioners at the beginning of December 2019. Charges were later dismissed. 

Another example is Rashid Alimov, an expert from Greenpeace Russia, who protested in the center of Saint Petersburg. Later the same day, two police officers together with six other people without uniform detained Alimov in front of his house. He then faced charges and a substantial fine. Charges were later dropped.

Environmental organisations that had previously opposed the import of uranium waste were listed as Foreign Agents. Ecodefense was the first of such, listed in 2014. In 2019, the pressure continued and the organisation’s leader, Alexandra Korolyova, was targeted. Five criminal cases were initiated against her, which forced her to leave the country.

The Mayak plant: Rosatom’s dirty face

The Mayak plant in the Chelyabinsk region is a nuclear waste reprocessing facility, arguably one of the places most negatively affected by the Russian nuclear industry. Firstly, radioactive waste was dumped into the Techa river from 1949 to 2004, which has been admitted by the company. According to subsequent reports by the local organisation For Nature however, the dumping has since been ongoing. As a result, 35 villages around the river were evacuated and destroyed. Secondly, the explosion at the plant in 1957, known as the Kyshtym tragedy, is among the 20th century’s worst nuclear accidents.

One of the first organisations that raised the problem of radiation pollution in the Ural region was the Movement for Nuclear Safety, formed in 1989. During its work, the Movement was engaged in raising awareness, social protection of the affected population, and publishing dozens of reports. After unprecedented pressure and persecution, the organisation’s leader, Natalia Mironova, was forced to emigrate to the United States in 2013. Since 2000, another non–governmental organisation, Planet of Hope, has held thousands of consultations with affected citizens. Nadezhda Kutepova, a lawyer and head of the organisation, won more than 70 cases in defence of Mayak victims, including two cases in the European Court of Human Rights. However, some important cases have still not been resolved. These include 2nd generation victims, cases involving pregnant women who were affected during liquidation, as well as the many schoolchildren of Tatarskaya Karabolka village who were sent to harvest the contaminated crop after the accident.

The state and Rosatom have reacted against the actions of Nadezhda Kutepova, persecuting both her and Planet of Hope. The organisation survived arbitrary inspections in 2004 and 2009, but was labelled a Foreign Agent in 2015 and closed in 2018. After being accused of ‘industrial espionage’ under the threat of criminal prosecution, Nadezhda was forced to flee the country with her children. She nevertheless continues her struggle to bring justice for the victims of Mayak.

Since 2002, the public foundation For Nature has been disputing nuclear activity in the region. The organisation appealed to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on the import of spent nuclear fuel from the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary. The court declared the Governmental Decree to be invalid, thus preventing the import of 370 tons of Hungarian radioactive waste.

In March 2015, For Nature was also listed as a Foreign Agent and fined. In 2016, the court shut down the organisation. In its place, a social movement of the same name was formed, and continues to help the South Ural communities.

Struggle against a nuclear repositoryIn the city of Krasnoyarsk, Rosatom plans to build a national repository for high–level radioactive waste. A site has been selected on the banks of Siberia’s largest river, the Yenisei, only 40 km from the city. Environmental activists consider this project, if implemented, to be a crime against future generations and violates numerous Russian laws. Activists are also concerned that waste from Ukraine, Hungary, Bulgaria (and in the future from Belarus, Turkey, Bangladesh, and other countries) could be transported there as well.

The community is understandably outraged, as no one wants to live in the world’s nuclear dump. Since 2013, for more than 7 years, the people of Krasnoyarsk have been protesting. To date, more than 146,000 people have signed the petition to the President of the Russian Federation protesting against the construction of this federal nuclear repository.

Most of the producing nuclear power plants are located in the European part of Russia, but the waste is going to be sent for ‘the rest of its lifetime’ to Siberia. Local activists refer to this, with good reason, as Rosatom’s “nuclear colonisation” of Siberia.

In 2016, Fedor Maryasov, an independent journalist and leader of the protest, was accused of inciting hatred against ‘nuclear industry workers’ as a social group. A criminal case was initiated under the article on extremism. The basis for this accusation was 125 publications on social networks and the press about nuclear topics. The activist’s apartment was searched and his computer seized, along with a printed report on Rosatom’s activities in the Krasnoyarsk region.

The federal security service also issued Maryasov an official warning for treason. Only wide publicity in the media and the active support of human rights lawyers has thus far prevented further criminal prosecution of the activist.

Conclusion: 

Nuclear power is a problem, not a solution.

Despite the nightmare described above, Rosatom is trying to convince us of the nuclear industry’s purity and purported carbon neutrality. In addition, Rosatom is building nuclear plants abroad using money from the Russian Federation’s budget. Nuclear not only won’t save our climate, but will continue to create even more insoluble problems of radioactive waste for thousands of years.

We demand that:

Russia must abandon all further development of nuclear energy. 

Current nuclear power plants should be closed and decommissioned as soon as possible.Current funds from the development of nuclear energy should be redirected to the development of local renewable energy sources, to the restoration of contaminated territories and as support for those affected by the activities of the nuclear industry.

The problem of nuclear waste should be discussed widely, openly and inclusively, with the participation of all interested parties, and decisions should be made democratically, taking into account the principles of environmental justice. 

Pressure on all activists, including environmental defenders and defenders of victims’ rights, should cease immediately.

And finally, Rosatom should be held responsible for environmental pollution and violation of human rights.

The Russian Social Ecological Union (RSEU)/ Friends of the Earth Russia is a non-governmental, non-profit and member based democratic organization, established in 1992. RSEU brings together environmental organizations and activists from across Russia. All RSEU activities are aimed at nature conservation, protection of health and the well-being of people in Russia and around the world. In 2014, RSEU became the Russian member of Friends of the Earth International. Read the full report.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Reference, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Restless radioactive remains are still stirring in Chernobyl’s nuclear tomb.

‘It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit.’ Nuclear reactions are smoldering again at Chernobyl  https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/05/nuclear-reactions-reawaken-chernobyl-reactor

By Richard Stone, May. 5, 2021 ,  Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the world’s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall. “It’s like the embers in a barbecue pit,” says Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield. Now, Ukrainian scientists are scrambling to determine whether the reactions will wink out on their own—or require extraordinary interventions to avert another accident.

Sensors are tracking a rising number of neutrons, a signal of fission, streaming from one inaccessible room, Anatolii Doroshenko of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kyiv, Ukraine, reported last week during discussions about dismantling the reactor. “There are many uncertainties,” says ISPNPP’s Maxim Saveliev. “But we can’t rule out the possibility of [an] accident.”

The neutron counts are rising slowly, Saveliev says, suggesting managers still have a few years to figure out how to stifle the threat. Any remedy he and his colleagues come up with will be of keen interest to Japan, which is coping with the aftermath of its own nuclear disaster 10 years ago at Fukushima, Hyatt notes. “It’s a similar magnitude of hazard.”

The specter of self-sustaining fission, or criticality, in the nuclear ruins has long haunted Chernobyl. When part of the Unit Four reactor’s core melted down on 26 April 1986, uranium fuel rods, their zirconium cladding, graphite control rods, and sand dumped on the core to try to extinguish the fire melted together into a lava. It flowed into the reactor hall’s basement rooms and hardened into formations called fuel-containing materials (FCMs), which are laden with about 170 tons of irradiated uranium—95% of the original fuel.

The concrete-and-steel sarcophagus called the Shelter, erected 1 year after the accident to house Unit Four’s remains, allowed rainwater to seep in. Because water slows, or moderates, neutrons and thus enhances their odds of striking and splitting uranium nuclei, heavy rains would sometimes send neutron counts soaring. After a downpour in June 1990, a “stalker”—a scientist at Chernobyl who risks radiation exposure to venture into the damaged reactor hall—dashed in and sprayed gadolinium nitrate solution, which absorbs neutrons, on an FCM that he and his colleagues feared might go critical. Several years later, the plant installed gadolinium nitrate sprinklers in the Shelter’s roof. But the spray can’t effectively penetrate some basement rooms.

Chernobyl officials presumed any criticality risk would fade when the massive New Safe Confinement (NSC) was slid over the Shelter in November 2016. The €1.5 billion structure was meant to seal off the Shelter so it could be stabilized and eventually dismantled. The NSC also keeps out the rain, and ever since its emplacement, neutron counts in most areas in the Shelter have been stable or are declining.

But they began to edge up in a few spots, nearly doubling over 4 years in room 305/2, which contains tons of FCMs buried under debris. ISPNPP modeling suggests the drying of the fuel is somehow making neutrons ricocheting through it more, rather than less, effective at splitting uranium nuclei. “It’s believable and plausible data,” Hyatt says. “It’s just not clear what the mechanism might be.”

The threat can’t be ignored. As water continues to recede, the fear is that “the fission reaction accelerates exponentially,” Hyatt says, leading to “an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy.” There’s no chance of a repeat of 1986, when the explosion and fire sent a radioactive cloud over Europe. A runaway fission reaction in an FCM could sputter out after heat from fission boils off the remaining water. Still, Saveliev notes, although any explosive reaction would be contained, it could threaten to bring down unstable parts of the rickety Shelter, filling the NSC with radioactive dust.

Addressing the newly unmasked threat is a daunting challenge. Radiation levels in 305/2 preclude getting close enough to install sensors. And spraying gadolinium nitrate on the nuclear debris there is not an option, as it’s entombed under concrete. One idea is to develop a robot that can withstand the intense radiation for long enough to drill holes in the FCMs and insert boron cylinders, which would function like control rods and sop up neutrons. In the meantime, ISPNPP intends to step up monitoring of two other areas where FCMs have the potential to go critical.

The resurgent fission reactions are not the only challenge facing Chernobyl’s keepers. Besieged by intense radiation and high humidity, the FCMs are disintegrating—spawning even more radioactive dust that complicates plans to dismantle the Shelter. Early on, an FCM formation called the Elephant’s Foot was so hard scientists had to use a Kalashnikov rifle to shear off a chunk for analysis. “Now it more or less has the consistency of sand,” Saveliev says.

Ukraine has long intended to remove the FCMs and store them in a geological repository. By September, with help from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, it aims to have a comprehensive plan for doing so. But with life still flickering within the Shelter, it may be harder than ever to bury the reactor’s restless remains.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | incidents, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Amid Widespread Disease, Death, and Poverty, the Major Powers Increased Their Military Spending in 2020

Amid Widespread Disease, Death, and Poverty, the Major Powers Increased Their Military Spending in 2020 https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/04/28/amid-widespread-disease-death-and-poverty-major-powers-increased-their-military?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=twitter

The existence of widespread poverty in the world’s mightiest military powers raises the question of what could have been done to alleviate or eliminate it, if during 2020 they had not poured nearly $1.1 trillion into preparations for war.

byLawrence Wittner      Last year was a terrible time for vast numbers of people around the globe, who experienced not only a terrible disease pandemic, accompanied by widespread sickness and death, but severe economic hardship.

Even so, the disasters of 2020 were not shocking enough to jolt the world’s most powerful nations out of their traditional preoccupation with enhancing their armed might, for once again they raised their military spending to new heights.

Someday people will ask whether increasing preparations for war by these nations—mostly designed to destroy one another—was the best these governments could do as their populations sank into widespread disease, death, and poverty.

During 2020, world military expenditures increased to $1,981,000,000,000—or nearly $2 trillion—with the outlays of the three leading military powers playing a major part in the growth.  The U.S. government increased its military spending from $732 billion in 2019 to $778 billion in 2020, thus retaining its top spot among the biggest funders of war preparations.  Meanwhile, the Chinese government hiked its military spending to $252 billion, while the Russian government raised its military outlay to $61.7 billion.


As a result
, the U.S. government remained by far the most lavish spender on the military in the world, accounting for 39 percent of the global total. Even so, the Chinese government continued its steady role in the worldwide military buildup, with its military disbursements rising for the 26th consecutive year.  Indeed, China’s 76 percent increase in military spending between 2011 and 2020 was the largest among the world’s top 15 big spenders.  When added together, the 2020 military expenditures of the United States, China, and Russia accounted for 55 percent of the global total.                   

This upward spiral in military spending coincided with a sharp rise in the number of the world’s people living in poverty, which soared by an estimated 131 million to 803 million by the end of the year.

In the United States, the richest nation in the world, 2020 produced the largest increase in poverty since the U.S. government began tracking it in 1960.  By the end of the year, an estimated 50 million people were struggling with hunger, including 17 million children. Plunged into severe privation, vast numbers of Americans lined up, sometimes in caravans that stretched for miles, to obtain free food at private and public food pantries and other distribution centers. Ignoring the terrible human costs of the economic crisis plaguing the nation during his re-election campaign, President Donald Trump boasted instead of his administration’s “colossal” increase in military spending.

In Russia, where real incomes fell for five of the previous seven years, they dropped still further in 2020. In that year, the average Russian had 11 percent less to spend than in 2013. Indeed, during the first nine months of 2020, as poverty grew, an estimated 19.6 million Russians reportedly lived below the poverty line, equivalent to 13.3 percent of the population.  According to a leading economist at Russia’s Institute of International Finance, the authorities “were so concerned about their external threats that they completely forgot about the domestic population.”

The situation was apparently quite different in China. Thanks to the government’s successful efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19, the Chinese economy had an easier time of it in 2020 than did the economies of other major nations. This factor, plus four decades of rapid economic growth and an ongoing campaign to improve the government’s popularity by reducing the country’s worst poverty, led to the Communist Party’s announcement that November that President Xi Jinping and the party had accomplished the miracle of eliminating severe poverty in China.

But all was not as it seemed. In 2020, China, despite its Communist pretensions, had one of the largest gaps between rich and poor throughout the world. By October, its number of billionaires had soared to 878, the highest total in any nation. In contrast, as a New York Times article reported that month, “millions of people on low incomes are working fewer hours at lower pay, depleting savings, and taking out loans to survive.” Moreover, claims as to the eradication of poverty in China were dubious, for the official poverty measuring line there was much lower than in nations with a similar level of economic development.  A Brookings Institution economist pointed out that, if China used the same standard as other upper middle-income countries, between 80 and 90 percent of its population would be considered poor. “Even if you aren’t out of poverty, the country will say you’re out of poverty,” remarked a bitter Chinese farmer.  “That’s the way it is.”

The existence of widespread poverty in the world’s mightiest military powers raises the question of what could have been done to alleviate or eliminate it if, during 2020, had they not poured nearly $1.1 trillion into preparations for war.

Also, of course, the vast resources used for the military buildup could have bankrolled other programs that would have substantially improved the lives of their citizens.  In the United States, as the National Priorities Project noted, the military budget could have funded healthcare for 208 million adults, or 21 million scholarships for university students, or 84 million public housing units, or the employment of 9.2 million elementary school teachers, or 10 million clean energy jobs, or VA medical care for 72 million military veterans.

But, sadly, building the mightiest military forces in world history had greater appeal to the governments of the United States, China, and Russia. Perhaps, someday, people will ask whether increasing preparations for war by these nations—mostly designed to destroy one another—was the best these governments could do as their populations sank into widespread disease, death, and poverty.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The toll on marine life of radioactive water poured into the Pacific Ocean.

Beyond Nuclear 2nd May 2021, Tepco and the Japanese government are once more preparing to “dispose” of 1.25 million tonnes — translating to hundred of millions of gallons — of radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site by pouring it into the Pacific Ocean. I say “accumulating” because this water, needed to constantly cool the stricken reactors that exploded and melted down during and after March 11, 2011 — and that also runs down neighboring hillsides and across the site, picking up radioactive contamination — will continue to accumulate.

This is not a one-stop-toss. Citizens groups and fishing unions have been up in arms about this ever since it was first mooted. The actual dumping of the water always seems to be about two years away, and is always threatened as
the only “solution,” which it is not. It is almost certainly the cheapest solution, but not the only choice.

Even if we never ate the fish that comes out of the Pacific; and even if the fish and higher marine mammal predators never ate each other; contaminating sea life with radioactive toxins is wrong. We made it. Why dump it on creatures who had nothing whatever to do with its production and never needed to turn on a light?

This is not the only instance of total disregard for marine life when it comes to nuclear power. Just by using what is known as the “once-through” cooling intake system at coastal nuclear power plants, the toll on sea life is immense.

Billions of fish, fingerlings and spawn are drawn into the plant with the cooling water (the water rate can be as high as a million gallons a minute) and duly pulverized. Their “remains” are discharged at the other end as sediment. No fishing license required. New nuclear power plants promise to be even bigger marine predators.

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/05/02/fission-folly/

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

France, the most nuclearised country in the world, is poorly prepared for nuclear emergencies.

ANCCLI 4th May 2021, People living near nuclear plants in France are not sufficiently aware of what to do to in the event of a nuclear accident, according to an organisation that collects information on the nuclear industry. The ANCCLI,
which aims to inform ordinary citizens about the nuclear industry, wants better simulation exercises and a more efficient distribution of iodine tablets so that those living and working near nuclear sites are better equipped to deal with any such accident.

“In the country that is the most nuclearised in the world in relation to the number of inhabitants, methods of public protection are unsuitable and insufficient,” says the ANCCLI in a report released on Tuesday. France is home to 19 nuclear power stations run by EDF, as well as nuclear reprocessing sites and nuclear plants used for research. The ANCCLI also expressed concern that local people are not availing of supplies of iodine tablets, which can mitigate the effects of radiation by saturating the thyroid with stable iodine so that it rejects radioactive iodine.

https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20210504-locals-near-france-s-nuclear-sites-not-prepared-for-accidents-report

ANCCLI’s White Paper 9 – The post-accident: anticipation and preparation,
at the heart of cross-border CLI discussions.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear emergency plans are inadequate

Europe1 4th May 2021, The French not sufficiently prepared in the event of a nuclear accident. The ANCCLI – responsible for informing the population about nuclear risks – warned Tuesday morning of the ineffectiveness of existing prevention campaigns and calls on the government to review the entire nuclear emergency plan.

https://www.europe1.fr/societe/un-rapport-pointe-limpreparation-de-la-france-en-cas-daccident-nucleaire-4042687

May 6, 2021 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors- a very problematic ”solution” to climate change

The controversial future of nuclear power in the U.S. National Geographic, 5 May 21, ”……………. In the U.S., a company called NuScale has recently received design certification approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its SMR, the first and only company to do so. Its reactor is a miniaturized version of a traditional reactor, in which pressurized water cools the core where nuclear fission is taking place. But in the NuScale design, the whole reactor is itself immersed in a pool of water designed to protect it from accidental meltdown.

NuScale hopes to build 12 of these reactors to produce 720 megawatts at the Idaho National Laboratory as a pilot project. It’s been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, which has approved up to $1.4 billion to help demonstrate the technology. NuScale plans to sell the plant to an energy consortium called Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

Last year, eight of the 36 utilities in the consortium backed out of the project, citing the cost. The company recently announced the project would be delayed to 2030, and the cost would rise from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion.

Nuclear opponents point to this latest disappointment as yet another example of why nuclear isn’t up to the task.

“If your first SMR isn’t built until the late 2020s, and then you have to turn it on, not to mention set up a whole new global supply chain, are you going to reach zero emissions by 2035?” asks IEER’s Makhijani. “You can’t make a significant contribution in time.” He adds that the industry’s long history of overruns and delays are especially problematic when considering climate commitments. “There’s no room for significant mistakes.”

……. The future of nuclear power will depend in part on how well it can balance a grid that increasingly relies on renewables…..   Unlike gas turbines, which can be turned on and off in seconds to “follow the load,” reactors take an hour or more to cut their production in half.

It’s not that reactors can’t follow the load; they’re just slower. “They can and do, because they have to,” Buongiorno says. “It’s just never an attractive economic proposition.”

Last fall, the DOE awarded $80 million each to two companies working on advanced reactor designs intended in part to address this problem. 

The first, TerraPower, a startup founded by Bill Gates, is working on a sodium-cooled reactor………   The second grant went to a company called X-energy for a gas-cooled reactor that operates at very high temperatures.

……  The high-level radioactive waste they produce, however, would need to be transported to a centralized location for management.

.. none of these new designs are moving quickly enough to meet Biden’s targets. DOE officials called their decision to support these two pilot projects, which aim to be fully operational by 2028, “their boldest move yet.”

Meanwhile, there’s a more direct way to balance the variability of renewables: store electricity in batteries. The market for utility-scale battery storage is exploding; it increased by 214 percent in 2020, and the EIA predicts that battery capacity will surge from its current 1,600 megawatts to 10,700 by 2023.

Makhijani thinks nuclear power isn’t going to be needed to balance the grid. A study he conducted in 2016 for the state of Maryland found that increased battery storage, combined with incentives to consumers to reduce their electricity use at peak times, would almost allow utilities to balance the variability of renewables.

They’d just need to store a little energy as hydrogen, which can be produced by running renewable electricity through water and then converted back to electricity in a fuel cell. That process is currently very expensive, Makhijani says, but “as long as it’s not giant amounts, it’s affordable.”……

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

France desperate to sell its flawed nuclear technology to India, Time for India to cancel Jaitapur nuclear power project.

Time for India to cancel Jaitapur nuclear power project, France keen on flogging its ‘messy’ tech to India Business May 2, 2021  By Ranvir Nayar Media India Group France remains desperate to sell its severely troubled EPR nuclear reactors to India, even though its own project at home and at both the sites outside of France have had severe cost and time overruns and continue to face safety issues.

On March 3, 2021, Electricité de France, EDF, the sole operator of nuclear power plants in France, informed the country’s nuclear safety body, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), of a design anomaly on three nozzles of the main primary system of the European Pressurised Reactor that it has been building at Flamanville in north-west France.

The design flaw is serious as the main primary system contains water used to cool the reactor core and transfer energy from the nuclear reaction to the steam generators. The design dates back to 2006 and the nozzles were manufactured in 2011.

https://mediaindia.eu/business/jaitapur-nuclear-france/

May 6, 2021 Posted by | France, India, marketing | Leave a comment

Millions of fish to be destroyed by UK’s new nuclear stations, but Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is in the pay of nuclear firm EDF.

Climate News Network 4th May 2021, The high fatality rate which the cooling systems of two British nuclear
power stations may impose on marine life is worrying environmentalists, who describe the heavy fish toll they expect as “staggering”.

The twostations, Hinkley Point C, under construction on England’s west coast,
and Sizewell C, planned for the eastern side of the country, will, they
say, kill more than 200 million fish a year and destroy millions more sea
creatures. But the stations’ builders say their critics are exaggerating
drastically.

Objectors to the fish kill had hoped that the UK government
agency tasked with conserving fish stocks in the seas around Britain, the
Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), would be
on their side. They have been disappointed to learn that Cefas is a paid
adviser to the French nuclear company EDF, which is building the stations,
and would raise no objections to the company’s method of cooling them
with seawater.

https://climatenewsnetwork.net/uk-nuclear-plants-will-exact-heavy-fish-toll/

May 6, 2021 Posted by | oceans, UK | Leave a comment

Further delay, more costs, for Finland’s nuclear power station, Fennovoima

Helsinki Times 4th May 2021, THE NUCLEAR POWER PROJECT of Fennovoima in Pyhäjoki, North Ostrobothnia,
is set to be delayed further, writes YLE. The Finnish consortium of power
and industrial companies stated last week that its effort to ensure the
design and licencing materials meet the Finnish standards has taken longer
than expected, predicting that a building permit for the plant could be
secured by mid-2022 instead of 2021.

The construction would therefore start
in the summer of 2023 and the plant start commercial operation in 2029. The
timetable is set forth in a supplement attached last week to the building
permit application the consortium filed with the Ministry of Employment and
the Economy in 2015. Fennovoima, the supplement reveals, has also raised
its cost estimate for the project from 6.5–7.0 to 7.0–7.5 billion
euros, citing its own operational and administrative costs.

https://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/19161-finnish-nuclear-power-project-to-be-delayed-further.html

May 6, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Finland | Leave a comment

Breakthrough Institute comes apart – Michael Shellenger started new nuclear front propaganda group – Environmental Progress

The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute (Part 3)

The DisInformation Chronicle, 5 May 21,

This is Part Three of “The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute,” a three-part series examining the Breakthrough Institute and ecomodernism. In Part Two, we discussed their annual meetings to which they invite climate skeptics and Monsanto propagandists, the odd credentials for many of their affiliates, and their promotion of nuclear energy and GMO agriculture as techno-fixes to electrify and feed the world. To start at Part One, click here.

Months after the Breakthrough Institute released their 2015 ecomodernist manifesto, the declaration’s ideological binding started coming unglued. Breakthrough’s Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger met ridicule trying to sell the manifesto at a public event in England, and the duo later parted ways, as Shellenberger founded a new organization called Environmental Progress to publicize nuclear energy. The split has been somewhat acrimonious as both try to break from a past that neither seems capable of escaping.

The event in England focused on restoring science to environmentalism, and it was there that they planned to sell ecomodernism to British reporters. Conservative MP Owen Paterson, a climate denier who almost halved the UK’s climate preparedness budget when he was environmental secretary, hosted the media event. 

When announcing the press conference, Paterson called on the public to abandon the “relentless pessimism of the environmental movement” and warned in a Telegraph op-ed that “the Green Blob still infests the official bureaucracy with its influence.” Other conference panelists included Mark Lynas, a co-author of the the ecomodernist manifesto, and Matt Ridley, a British science writer noted for climate denial screeds

But after critics argued that the event provided a platform for climate denialists, DesmogBlog reported that Shellenberger dismissed those who warned the group not to participate in a press conference with Paterson.

Fuck you all, we’re going to go to the press conference,” Shellenberger said. “Owen will say his thing, we’re going to say our thing, if people can’t deal with it, fuck ‘em. I’m done with the tribalism on this.” 

Shellenberger’s cavalier attitude did not seem to impress the crowd, however, and many complained that Breakthrough had made the wrong decision by choosing to associate with climate denialists and anti-environmentalists

In a recent interview, Nordhaus explained this strategy as sort of a means to an end. “I’ve given talks to groups of climate skeptics, climate deniers—you know, real climate deniers,” he said. “You can have a variety of viewpoints on this question without having to put a tin foil hat on. And the thing is, you get to the end of those talks and if you go, ‘OK, so who supports nuclear energy?’ Everybody in the room supports nuclear energy.”

Neither Nordhaus nor Shellenberger responded to detailed questions sent by e-mail.

By late 2015, Shellenberger had left the Breakthrough Institute and started Environmental Progress. A photo at the organization’s website shows Shellenberger clad in a yellow t-shirt giving a Ted Talk. The summer after founding his group, Shellenberger partnered with employees of the nuclear energy industry to lead the March for Environmental Hope, which was billed as the “first-ever pro-nuclear march.” 

As part of their march, the group held protests outside the Bay area offices of Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and attendees included a half dozen Exelon employees, who flew in from jobs working at nuclear reactors scattered across the country. 

Months later, Shellenberger led a pro-nuclear march in Chicago that was said to be inspired by the Civil Rights March on Washington, the Stonewall Riots, and Gandhi’s Salt March. Counter protestors denounced Environmental Progress as “astroturf.” 

When not writing for the Environmental Progress website, Shellenberger sometimes has his views echoed on Spiked, a British website funded in part by the Koch Brothers that traffics in climate denial. He also runs a blog at Forbes where he ridicules climate policy while advocating for nuclear energy. In one example at Forbes, he cited studies by Ed Calabrese, a professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as proof that fears of nuclear radiation are overblown. Shellenberger’s story picked up on a theme first introduced by the Breakthrough Institute where they interviewed Calabrese about his research.

As reported by The Los Angeles Times and HuffPost Investigations, Calabrese has long excited the tobacco, chemical, and nuclear industries with research called “hormesis” that argues tiny amounts of pollution and radiation are actually good for people. Public health experts have dismissed Calabrese’s hormesis studies as a type of religion, although Trump officials showed interest.

Shellenberger is a propagandist,” said Paul Dorfman, Founder and Chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group and Honorary Senior Research Associate at the University College London. Dorfman said that while some experts can make a case for nuclear energy that he disagrees with, Shellenberger is not one of them. 

“He’s not a scientist. He just comes up with stuff,” said Dorfman. Dismissing the hormesis theory as “quasi science” and “tosh,” Dorfman said there is no safe dose of radiation. “This is a fact. And all the regulatory bodies know this.” ………

To promote his recent book “Apocalypse Never,” Shellenberger added another piece to the canon of environmental apologist lit, with a post on his Forbes blog titled “On behalf of environmentalists, I apologize for the climate scare.” Forbes removed the blog shortly after, which Shellenberger decried as censorship. Nonetheless, Shellenberger references his blogging at Forbes to claim that he is a “leading environmental journalist.” 

But once again, reality diverges from the Shellenberger storyline.

Forbes has long been a breeding ground for industry messaging and corporate propaganda. Back in 1997, Forbes ran a takedown of EPA Administrator Carol Browner, warning the public that she was ignoring science to gain control over American lives. “Watch out for this woman,” read the scary headline splashed across the cover of Forbes magazine, “The EPA’s Carol Browner is exploiting health and the environment to build a power base.” 

The story’s co-author was Bonner R. Cohen, who also operated EPA Watch, a newsletter that Philip Morris described as an “asset” that they established to attack the EPA on second hand smoke. After EPA Watch disappeared, Cohen then joined various climate denial groups, including the Heartland Institute. ………

“We flood the American public with a tsunami of crap every day in the media,” said Gary Schwitzer, an adjunct professor at U of Minnesota School of Public Health, and Publisher of Health News Review. He said Forbes is particularly terrible because it hosts fringe contributors with undeclared industry ties, and who write dreck. This is harmful, Schwitzer said, because it distracts the public from real news: “That’s what really pisses me off.”

“In some ways, it’s just like a fabulous performance art piece that he’s doing right now,” Nordhaus told Drilled News of Shellenberger’s campaign to promote his latest book. “It’s like Andy Kaufman doing environmentalism in a way that environmentalists could sort of see how dogmatic it gets. How sort of shrill it gets, and how angry it gets. How kind of dark and conspiratorial it gets.”

Despite attempts to create space between themselves and Shellenberger, Breakthrough has also helped to prop him up. When both Shellenberger and Bjorn Lomborg published books last year, climate scientists rushed to condemn them. Writing in The Guardian, climate expert Bob Ward dismissed both books as “classic examples of political propaganda.” ………

Breakthrough’s troubling ties to climate denial continue to this day as a member of their board is Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute. Four years back, 19 Senators took to the Senate floor in a week-long event to denounce the Manhattan Institute and other fossil fuel-funded groups that deny climate science and stymie legislation. According to Exxon Secrets, the Manhattan Institute has received $1.39 million from Exxon since 1992, with $75,000 donated in 2018, the last year for which records are available.

…….. Breakthrough has other links to the fossil fuel industry, through the chair of their advisory board, the heiress Rachel Pritzker. Besides funding the Breakthrough Institute, the Pritzker Innovation Fund supports the Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University. Other Natural Gas Initiative funders include Anadarko Petroleum, Gulf Energy, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute. 

………. “If there’s one thing these guys are good at, it is getting the media to move a story for them,” said Kert Davies of the Climate Investigations Center. Complimenting Breakthrough’s skills in public relations, Davies said that their counterintuitive “man bites dog” message gives Breakthrough an advantage over environmental organizations, which keep selling the same tired story.

“They are good at PR,” he said. “It’s where they came from. They’re good PR guys pretending to be policy experts.”https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough-c97

May 6, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, UK, USA | Leave a comment

The manipulative propaganda tactics of Michael Shellenger,Mark Lynas and Rachel Pritzker of the Breakthrough Institute

The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute (Part 2)

Ten years after jumping on the scene, contrarianism, public stumbles, and “debate-me-bro” tactics remained core to the group’s brand, The DisInformation Chronicle, Mar 23 2021,

This is Part Two of “The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute” a three-part series examining the Breakthrough Institute and ecomodernism. In Part One, we scrutinized Breakthrough’s early years, their attacks on traditional environmental groups, and their awkward defense of the oil and gas industry. To find Part One, click here.

From its 2003 beginning, the Breakthrough Institute weathered constant criticism for contrarian hot-takes on complex environmental topics. But 2014 saw two major stumbles: Breakthrough Institute Fellow Roger Pielke Jr. got bounced from Nate Silver’s 538 after writing an error-riddle column on climate change; another fiasco followed when Breakthrough invited Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity to one of its much-ballyhooed meetings. 

Having one of your senior fellows bounced from 538 after an eminent MIT scientist pointed out errors would embarrass any normal organization. But not Breakthrough…….

Attempting to debate facts that don’t land in their favor is boilerplate Breakthrough. More common is goading well-known experts to debate dense policy matters, because joining the stage with authorities perfumes Breakthrough with a whiff of their opponents’ expertise.

The “debate-me-bro” maneuver remains critical to polishing Breakthrough’s brand. 

“In the end, they know they don’t have to win all those debates,” said Sam Bliss, a graduate student in environmental economics at the University of Vermont, who published a study in the Journal of Political Ecology examining Breakthrough. “Just getting in the debates with actual experts, and getting attention for their ideas, puts those ideas into people’s heads.”

Breakthrough Institute co-founder Michael Shellenberger also relies on debate-me-bro when called out for misstatements. As catastrophic fires torched the West Coast last fall, reporters began quoting scientists who linked these fires with climate change. Nonetheless, Shellenberger hopped on Fox News to shout this science down.

When someone then tweeted that he was wrong, Shellenberger, of course, challenged that person to a debate…………….

Breakthrough hosted a talk by Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). Leaked documents and court records find that ACSH’s funders have included Chevron, Coca-Cola, Bayer Cropscience, McDonald’s, Monsanto, and the tobacco conglomerate Altria……….

In 2015, Nordhaus and Shellenberger released “An Ecomodernist Manifesto”, a sparkly, tectonic-shifting declaration. In reality, the document rehashed arguments that, as humans sculpt the planet, the Earth has entered a new era.

Many of the 18 signatories were Breakthrough affiliates, with a smattering of professors and others who orbit Breakthrough as a means to pump up their personal brands as innovative thinkers. Two signatories bear greater scrutiny: Mark Lynas and Rachel Pritzker…………..

He [Lynas] issued this very dramatic, but essentially, fabricated reinvention of his own biography to springboard into a new phase of his career,” Wilsdon said of Lynas. “He isn’t an expert in any of this.”

“He’s done a very impressive marketing campaign internationally,” agreed Mayer, who signed the letter calling Lynas’s claims false. “He’s not at all important in our country. But it fits into a nice story that gets lapped up by certain constituents.”

In recent years, Lynas has turned to writing for the Cornell Alliance for Science, a GMO and pesticide advocacy group at Cornell University. After the WHO’s IARC listed the pesticide glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, Monsanto and its allies began attacking the agency. The head of IARC told Politico that the agrichemical industry’s campaign reminded him of tobacco industry attacks when IARC categorized second-hand smoke as cancerous.

Lynas later published a piece at the Cornell Alliance for Science that dismissed IARC as “a little-known and rather flaky offshoot of the World Health Organization” and defended Monsanto as the victim of a “witch hunt.”

Lynas did not respond to detailed questions sent to him by e-mail.

Rachel Pritzker joined Breakthrough as the chair of its board in 2011. After co-authoring “An Ecomodernist Manifesto,” she achieved peak Breakthrough glory with two Ted Talks. In one talk, she flacked ecomodernism and recounted her transformation from little girl raised by hippies on a goat farm “where we grew our own vegetables and heated with wood” to Breakthrough-style tech modernist. After reaching this inflection point on the Ted Talk stage, Pritzker then toggled through talking points similar to what one would expect from a nuclear energy lobbyist, while also slapping down wind and solar energy.

“That’s the essential message of ecomodernism,” she said. “It’s a cause for optimism.”

Ms. Pritzker seems to have little scientific training, which makes her an odd choice to jump on stage and teach an audience about nuclear energy. According to news reports and her bio at the Pritzker Innovation Fund, Ms. Pritzker majored in Latin American studies. During the 2008 election, NPR reported that she was a “liberal nutritionist” who helped dump $1.1 million into an Ohio political action committee that opposed Senator John McCain, then running for President. …….

Besides chairing the board of the Breakthrough Institute, Ms. Pritzker has also supported several groups that collaborate with Breakthrough to promote nuclear energy and GMO agriculture, including Third Way and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). 

This ends Part Two of “The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute,” a three part series examining the Breakthrough Institute and ecomodernism. To continue with Part Three, click here.  https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough-c1d


May 6, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Breakthrough Institute climate sceptics – Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger – ‘bright, shiny objects to some journalists’.

The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute, How ecomodernism’s attempt to revolutionize environmentalism became a tragic slide into techno-hype lobbying and endless bickering with “Big Green” The DisInformation Chronicle 5 May 21,

In 2004, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the founders of a scrappy Bay Area think tank called the Breakthrough Institute, shot to prominence when they published “The Death of Environmentalism,” an essay that argued the environmental movement had failed……….

Because they ….. defined themselves against climate science deniers, they found a sympathetic audience among mainstream intellectuals……….

But it turns out they weren’t so different from run-of-the-mill climate skeptics after all……
Breakthrough’s antics and loose relationship with facts have caused most environmental groups and climate change experts to give them the cold shoulder.

“They had this idea of molding environmentalism to attract conservatives and what actually happened was they turned into conservatives themselves—writing for Forbes, Quillete, National Review, and the Wall Street Journal,” said Sam Bliss a graduate student in environmental economics at the University of Vermont. Along with research professor Giorgos Kallis, Bliss published a study in the Journal of Political Ecology that documents the Breakthrough Institute’s promotion of a strange idea called ecomodernism. Bliss describes it as a tragic tale, where Nordhaus and Shellenberger turn into exactly who they didn’t want to be: conservative lobbyists for techno-fixes who engage in endless battles with environmentalists. 

But while Breakthrough may have become a pariah in much of the environmental movement, ignoring them is not the smartest strategy. Most of their early critics have vanished after becoming exasperated at the group’s constant failure to correct errors, granting Nordhaus and Shellenberger an open license to peddle “ecomodernism” as a gadget to address the world’s environmental challenges. 

Indeed, while it’s been 12 years since Shellenberger and Lomborg shared a stage to promote their “alternative voices,” the veracity and quality of their scientific advice has not improved. Both Shellenberger and Lomborg released new books in 2020—and as in the past, experts immediately savaged them. In a review at Yale 360, Pacific Institute emeritus president Peter Gleick wrote, “Bad science and bad arguments abound in ‘Apocalypse Never’ by Michael Shellenberger.” Taking a pickaxe to Lomborg’s book “False Alarm,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote in the New York Times, “This book proves the aphorism that a little knowledge is dangerous. It’s nominally about air pollution. It’s really about mind pollution.”

But despite criticism of the Breakthrough Institute’s ideas and turmoil within it — Shellenberger left the group in 2015 — Breakthrough shows an uncanny knack to survive and spread bad ideas, even managing to attract the occasional reasonable scientist such as Steven Pinker, an attention-starved Harvard professor, who is sometimes touted as one of his generation’s leading minds.

Neither Nordhaus nor Shellenberger responded to detailed questions sent by e-mail.

……………….. A recently retired Hill staffer, who did not want his name in the media, said he worked for decades on appropriations for the House but never heard of the Breakthrough Institute. He wondered how Shellenberger—or anyone—could claim personal credit for passing billions of dollars in renewable energy policy with just one or two meetings, when the Hill is swarming with hundreds of professional lobbyists working around the clock.

“He’s constantly reinventing his story to build the appearance of power and access,” said Kert Davies, who spent 13 years at Greenpeace examining energy policy, before founding the Climate Investigations Center in 2013. Davies said he first met Shellenberger in the early 2000s, when Shellenberger was vying to get a communications contract with Greenpeace.  “He takes credit for things [that happened] years after he was boosted from the Apollo Alliance. He can say whatever he wants, and it’s all vapor because the organization is now gone.”

“They aren’t players up here on the Hill,” said a senior Democratic Committee staffer, who has spent decades working on climate policy and is not authorized to speak to the media. “They spend most of their time shooting spitballs at mainstream environmental organizations and that makes them a bright, shiny object to some journalists.” 

………. Shellenberger’s denial that Exxon suppressed or spun what it knew about climate change is now referenced by mainstream climate denialists,

……….. since launching the Breakthrough Institute in 2003, Nordhaus and Shellenberger have generated gigawatts of media buzz — along with a pile of disapproval taller than a West Virginia coal mountain. Scientists and environmentalists have noted the duo’s penchant for portraying the fossil fuel industry as a tiny corporate Goliath picked on by David, the environmental giant. But Breakthrough’s counterintuitive narratives, headlined with sparkly buzzwords and backfilled with selective facts, make sense when you remember that Nordhaus and Shellenberger forged their expertise in public relations.

In the tech-crazed, libertarian San Francisco of the early 2000s, Breakthrough’s ideology perhaps made sense to those who saw the environmental movement as stuck in the past, unwilling to embrace necessary technology, and too resistant to corporate solutions. This has caused a few moments of public embarrassment for Breakthrough such as promoting fracking as a “clean energy” alternative.

Last year, medical experts writing in the New England Journal of Medicine dismissed fracking as a clean energy false promise that data show is less a bridge to future, than a tether to the past. Today, Breakthrough promotes fracking and eagerly embraces nuclear and solar energy, while cheerleading for GMO agriculture, as preferred technologies to electrify and feed the world. 

……….. over the years, Breakthrough also began defending oil companies and cozying up to climate contrarians. Denying that they traffic in climate denial, while constantly ending up in the same room with contrarians and climate denialists, is a constant dilemma for the Breakthrough crowd, as are spine twisting arguments to soften human impacts on the planet and to hype technology solutions.  It’s a subtle, more modern version of denial and catnip to some journalists. When celebrated data cruncher Nate Silver relaunched his 538 website in 2014, one of his first hires was Breakthrough Fellow Roger Pielke Jr. 

A professor of science policy at the University of Colorado, Pielke Jr. has a long track record of wildcat contrarian writing on climate change and receiving invites to promote his views at congressional hearings from Republicans who deny climate science. 

……… It’s a subtle, more modern version of denial and catnip to some journalists. When celebrated data cruncher Nate Silver relaunched his 538 website in 2014, one of his first hires was Breakthrough Fellow Roger Pielke Jr. 


A professor of science policy at the University of Colorado, Pielke Jr. has a long track record of wildcat contrarian writing on climate change and receiving invites to promote his views at congressional hearings from Republicans who deny climate science. …… https://disinformationchronicle.substack.com/p/the-new-denial-is-delay-at-the-breakthrough

May 6, 2021 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Nobel prize winner Beatrice Fihn urges Australia to join the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, as public support for it grows

Australian government urged to heed public support for treaty banning nuclear weapons. Nobel prize-winning anti-nuclear campaigner Beatrice Fihn says ‘change is not only possible, it’s inevitable’    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/may/06/australian-government-urged-to-heed-public-support-for-treaty-banning-nuclear-weaponsDaniel Hurst Foreign affairs and defence correspondent@danielhurstbne Thu 6 May 2021

The Australian government is being urged to rethink its opposition to a new international treaty banning nuclear weapons, with a leading campaigner warning of the “indiscriminate destructiveness” of such arms.

Beatrice Fihn, the head of the Nobel prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), will use a speech in Tasmania on Thursday to implore the government to heed strong public support for joining the treaty.

“Change is not only possible; it’s inevitable,” Fihn will say when she presents the annual Red Cross Oration at the University of Tasmania.

The Australian government has not joined the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a relatively new agreement that requires parties not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.

So far, the treaty has been signed by 86 countries, of which 54 have formally ratified it – but it has been snubbed by the nuclear weapons states including the US, Russia and China.

“Australia does not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Wednesday.

The Australian government argues the new treaty “would not eliminate a single nuclear weapon” because none of the nuclear weapons states have signed it and because it “ignores the realities of the global security environment”.

The government also says the treaty would be inconsistent with its US alliance obligations. However, campaigners point out that several US allies, such as New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines, have already ratified the treaty.

Fihn, who is based in Geneva and will be addressing the University of Tasmania via video link, will call on the government to act on the “strong and growing support that exists in Australia for this crucial new piece of international law”.

According to prepared remarks provided to Guardian Australia in advance, she will describe the treaty as an “incredible step forward towards a world without nuclear weapons”.

Fihn will say the countries that have joined the treaty are “leading the way forward to a world without nuclear weapons”.

“Meanwhile, in countries that have not yet joined the treaty, including Australia, people are speaking up against nuclear weapons and calling on their countries to join,” she will say.

“Cities around the world, including Berlin, Paris and Washington DC are adopting resolutions calling on their governments to join. In fact, the very first city to sign our Cities Appeal was Melbourne, followed soon after by Sydney – and we’re delighted that the City of Hobart is also on board.”

Polling commissioned by Greenpeace in 2017 found 72.7% of 1,669 Australians surveyed said they supported a ban on nuclear weapons as a step towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

“From Australia to Canada, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, polls show that the majority of people want their government to join,” Fihn will say.

“Thousands of parliamentarians have pledged to work to bring their respective countries on board. In Australia, 88 of the current members of parliament have taken Ican’s pledge.”

The Ican pledge commits parliamentarians “to work for the signature and ratification of this landmark treaty by our respective countries”.

The federal MPs and senators who have signed up are mostly Labor politicians, including the opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, who has been campaigning against nuclear weapons since early in his political career.

The list also includes the Greens leader, Adam Bandt, and crossbenchers. The Liberal National party MP for Flynn in central Queensland, Ken O’Dowd, has also signed up.

In Thursday’s speech, Fihn will also emphasise the need to “amplify the voices of First Nations peoples in Australia and the Pacific who continue to suffer the horrendous impacts of nuclear tests carried out on their lands and in their waters by the United Kingdom, the United States and France”.

More than 75 years after the US bombing of the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, she says, nuclear-armed states are spending billions of dollars each year to build new weapons and to keep the 13,000 existing weapons.

But Fihn says nuclear-armed states “do not prepare for what comes next, after the bombs are dropped”, citing reports that about 80% of hospitals were destroyed in Hiroshima. Out of 300 doctors in the city, 270 died or were injured; out of 1,780 nurses, 1,654 were killed or injured.

“They do not prepare for the hundreds of thousands of burn victims, for the blasted hospitals, for the injured and dying medical professionals left to heal an entire city,” Fihn says.

“The trauma of overwhelmed hospitals and overburdened doctors and nurses around the world who are struggling to meet the needs of patients during the Covid-19 pandemic shows just how impossible it would be for medical infrastructure to respond to even one nuclear weapon detonation.” The Australian government and other non-signatories are being encouraged to send officials to attend, as observers, the first meeting of parties in Vienna early next year.

Guardian Australia understands Australia will consider attendance closer to the event.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Faster glacier melting raises hunger threat

Climate News Network 5th May 2021, Glacial retreat − the rate at which mountain ice is turning to running
water − has accelerated. In the last two decades, the world’s 220,000
glaciers have lost ice at the rate of 267 billion tonnes a year on average,
and this faster glacier melting could soon imperil downstream food and
water supplies.

To make sense of this almost unimaginable volume, think of
a country the size of Switzerland. And then submerge it six metres deep in
water. And then go on doing that every year for 20 years.

European scientists report in the journal Nature that, on the basis of satellite
data, they assembled a global snapshot of the entire world’s stock of
land-borne ice, excluding Antarctica and Greenland. And then they began to
measure the impact of global heating driven by profligate fossil fuel use
on the lofty, frozen beauty of the Alps, the Hindu Kush, the Andes, the
Himalayas and the mountains of Alaska.

They found not just loss, but a loss
that was accelerating sharply. Between 2000 and 2004, the glaciers together
surrendered 227 billion tons of ice a year on average. By 2015 to 2019, the
annual loss had risen to 298 billion tonnes. The run-off from the
retreating glaciers alone caused more than one-fifth of observed sea level
rise this century.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment