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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

A new milestone towards a safe, nuclear weapons-free world

The Coming Ban on Nuclear Weapons https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-by-zia-mian-2017-03 PRINCETON – On March 27, the United Nations will start negotiations on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons. It will be a milestone marking the beginning of the end of an age of existential peril for humanity.

This day was bound to come. From the beginning, even those who set the world on the path to nuclear weapons understood the mortal danger and moral challenge confronting humanity. In April 1945, US Secretary of War Henry Stimson explained to President Harry Truman that the atomic bomb would be “the most terrible weapon ever known in human history.” Stimson warned that “the world in its present state of moral advancement compared with its technical development would be eventually at the mercy of such a weapon. In other words, modern civilization might be completely destroyed.”

Soon afterwards, the newly created UN, established with the express purpose “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” took the threat posed by nuclear arms as its first priority. In January 1946, in its very first resolution, the UN called for a plan “for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons.”

The Soviet Union submitted such a plan that June. Now largely forgotten, the Gromyko Plan included a “Draft International Convention to Prohibit the Production and Employment of Weapons Based on the Use of Atomic Energy for the Purpose of Mass Destruction.” At the time, only the United States had nuclear weapons, and it chose to maintain its monopoly. But it couldn’t hold onto it for long. Where it led, others soon followed, forcing humanity to endure the decades of weapons development, arms races, proliferation, and nuclear crises that followed.

Anti-nuclear movements took root, and, in a phrase made famous by the historian E.P. Thompson, began to protest to survive. They found allies in a growing number of countries. In November 1961, the UN General Assembly declared that “any state using nuclear and thermonuclear weapons is to be considered as violating the Charter of the United Nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity, and as committing a crime against mankind and civilization.”

As the number and destructive power of nuclear weapons grew, and as even developing countries began to acquire them, recognition of the danger gave rise to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970. “Considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war,” the NPT begins, there is a “consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples.”

To this end, the treaty committed all signatories to “undertake negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” The US, the Soviet Union, and Britain signed the NPT. France and China, the only other nuclear weapon states at the time, held out for more than 20 years, until 1992. Israel, India, and Pakistan have never signed, while North Korea signed and then withdrew. Although all professed support for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, disarmament negotiations never began.

Countries without nuclear weapons – the overwhelming majority – took matter into their own hands. Through the UN General Assembly, they asked the International Court of Justice to rule on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. In July 1996, the ICJ issued an advisory opinion, with two key conclusions. First, “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” And, second, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

But, in the 20 years since the highest court in the international system issued its judgment, the states affected by it have still failed to launch “negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament.” Instead, they have set out on long-term programs to maintain, modernize, and in some cases augment their nuclear arsenals.

Non-weapon states began to take action through a series of international conferences and UN resolutions. Finally, in October 2016, the UN General Assembly’s First Committee, which is responsible for international peace and security, voted “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” On December 23, the General Assembly ratified the decision, with 113 countries in favor, 35 opposed, and 13 abstentions.

The new resolution’s instructions are straightforward: “States participating in the conference” should “make their best endeavors to conclude as soon as possible a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The treaty could be ready before the end of the year.

The nine nuclear weapon states will finally be put to the test. Will they keep their promises to disarm and join the treaty, or will they choose their weapons over international law and the will of the global community? The non-weapon states that join the treaty will be tested, too. How will they organize to confront those countries in the world system that choose to be nuclear outlaws?

March 25, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump plays the media with tweets, while the Republican anti-people agenda quietly carried out, under the media radar

Donald Trump’s tweets a distraction from decisions being made at the White House, Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McGeough, 24 Mar 17 Washington: “……… it wasn’t till this week that The Wall Street Journal, the very conservative and very sensible, Murdoch-owned WSJ, snapped – its Wednesday editorial tears into Trump for his false and lying tweets.

Likening the teetotaller commander-in-chief to a desperate alcoholic, it thunders on Trump’s widely-debunked claim that former US president Barack Obama had ordered wire taps on Trump Tower: “The President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims.”

The Journal often is accused of covering Trump with kid gloves. But throwing into reverse, the editorial’s author drives over the President again – damning his “seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods”. And then it guns the engine before making another run: “If he doesn’t show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he’s a fake president.”Theories abound on Trump’s obsessive, reckless tweeting – it’s a fight to defend the legitimacy of his presidency; it’s innate – he was groomed since childhood to wage total war on any threat, real or perceived; or it’s all a distraction – creating a crisis to divert attention from other crises and/or from the dire impact of his legislative and executive decisions.

George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, sees a deliberate strategy at work. Analysing Trump’s March 4 wire-tapping tweets, Lakoff lays out four elements on his blog:

Pre-emptive framing: He frames first. He creates a new presidential scandal – Obama’s wire tapping – an accusation without evidence, and with all evidence against it.

  • Deflection: He puts the onus on his squeaky-clean predecessor.
  • Diversion: The press bit and the diversion worked. It generated headlines questioning whether Obama, rather than Trump, had committed wrongdoing. The diversion worked, at least temporarily.
  • Trial balloon: Will the public accept it, or listen to a discussion of it long enough to distract the press and the public from the treason issue? Bruce Miller, a political science professor at the University of Albany, doesn’t buy this theory of calculated distraction. “That’s rarely the case,” he tells Fairfax Media. “All the tweeting is an unavoidable part of his personality … so provocative and unchecked that it has a perverse impact … leaving a sense of a frenzied, chaotic start to this presidency.”
  • But calculated or otherwise, the distraction is profound. Stories that might run for days get bumped from the headlines as an army of political journalists changes gears, going after the latest Twitter feed. Not getting the attention they would ordinarily deserve are a litany of White House decisions or, as in the case of his proposed budget, Trump’s wish list for federal spending cuts that often target the very people he promised to watch out for, those of whom he said in his inauguration speech in January: “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer”.These include his proposal to undo what is called the Fiduciary Rule…….
  • Trump has put medical research on the chopping block; along with a series of economic revitalisation programs………
  • The new president’s determination to undo a swathe of Obama’s “stupid” climate policies is hugely consequential – but this too gets short shrift in the Twitter wars. Climate change research and prevention programs would be eliminated along with a series of vehicle and power plant pollution control efforts that were deemed necessary to counter planet warming.They were part of Washington’s commitment to reduce greenhouse pollution by 26 per cent by 2025 under the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change – which Trump says he’ll junk. And Trump wants to weaken rules that protect hundreds of rivers from pollution.”As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: we’re not spending money on that anymore,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney said while briefing reporters on budget proposals.Trump is arguing against laws that prohibit US companies paying bribes to get overseas contracts. And having paid $US25 million to settle class actions against his own university, work is underway to relax rules that make it difficult for other private colleges to scam their students.

    And just in case Trump doesn’t go the whole hog, Republicans have introduced these bills in congress:

 

 

March 25, 2017 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Some hope for mainstream media: New York Times and Washington Post now to cover climate change news

In response to the Trump administration’s intense politicization of the issue, The Washington Post now dedicates more resources to covering climate policy

“there are really big stories about climate refugees and cities that are threatened and desperately trying to adapt to climate change,

Climate Journalism: The Coverage Heats Up InsideClimate News and Climate Central have dominated U.S. climate journalism, but The New York Times and Washington Post now are trying to catch up. UnDark, 03.23.2017    For about a decade, niche websites have dominated U.S. journalism coverage of climate change and policy responses to it. General news publications and broadcasters, as well as media outlets dedicated to science, have failed to consistently match the volume, quality, and depth of coverage published by outlets such as Climate Central and InsideClimate News, both of which are nonprofit, non-partisan organizations. InsideClimate reporters David Hasemyer, Elizabeth McGowan, and Lisa Song even won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for their coverage of a Michigan oil spill.

But after some shifting commitments on climate change and environmental coverage, The New York Times has devoted significant resources to this beat in the past few months. And The Washington Post is moving in a similar direction.

The Times’ approach involves a team of journalists dedicated to the climate and environment beat. Hannah Fairfield, who began her career as a graphics editor at the newspaper in 2000, started in February as the Times’ climate editor, a newly created position. Her experience also includes a two-year stint as graphics director at The Washington Post.

Fairfield’s team of reporters and editors includes John M. Broder, Coral Davenport, Henry Fountain, Justin Gillis, Nadja Popovich, John Schwartz, and Tatiana Schlossberg. Fairfield’s mission, she says, includes developing explanatory stories as well as stories with a visual component, such as video, photography and graphics.

At The Washington Post, a major Times competitor, climate change coverage is distributed across several desks and journalists, says Laura Helmuth, editor of the paper’s health, science, and environment team. Her writers include Darryl Fears and Brady Dennis, who cover climate change as part of their beat. Meteorologists Jason Samenow and Angela Fritz, along with financial reporters Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson also contribute. Suzanne Goldenberg, recently hired as an editor on the financial team, will work with Mooney and Mufson on an energy and environment blog. Rounding out the effort are several other political reporters who frequently cover climate policy and politics, including Juliet Eilperin, who focuses on the White House, and Lisa Rein, who deals with Congress.

In response to the Trump administration’s intense politicization of the issue, The Post now dedicates more resources to covering climate policy, says Helmuth. “We’re still greatly outnumbered by The New York Times’ dedicated climate staff,” she notes, “but that is the case for most departments.”

The Times’ Fairfield also notes a Trump factor, but in her case it involves the challenge of finding the right coverage balance between breaking climate policy news out of Washington, D.C., and stories about the global effects of climate change. “We have so much to cover in Washington right now, but there are really big stories about climate refugees and cities that are threatened and desperately trying to adapt to climate change,” she says.

The Times plans to make additional hires to its climate team. …..https://undark.org/2017/03/23/climate-coverage-journalism-competition/

March 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, USA | Leave a comment

The end for nuclear construction in USA – a Westinghouse Electrical nuclear bankruptcy

MIT Technology Review believes a Westinghouse bankruptcy means an end to new nuclear construction in the United States.

Nuclear firm Westinghouse Electric to file for bankruptcy next week http://www.utilitydive.com/news/reports-nuclear-firm-westinghouse-electric-to-file-for-bankruptcy-next-wee/438880/ , March 24, 2017

Dive Brief: Toshiba informed its main lenders today it is planning for Westinghouse Electric Co., the nuclear engineering firm overseeing construction of new generating facilities in Georgia and South Carolina, to file for bankruptcy on March 31, according to sources briefed on the matter, Reuters reports. 

  • Reuters also reports exclusively on preparations utilities are making for the potential bankruptcy of Westinghouse.
  • Toshiba acquired a majority stake in Westinghouse in 2006, but last month was forced to write down $6 billion at the company due to difficulties with its projects. The company is managing construction of new nuclear generation at the Vogtle plant in Georgia and V.C. Summer in South Carolina.
  • Dive Insight: Utilities and other parties are gearing up to deal with the ensuing fallout if Westinghouse files for bankruptcy. According to Reuters, utility clients of Westinghouse have hired advisers in preparation for what could be a protracted financial untangling. Toshiba has reportedly hired a consultancy and law firm to help prepare for anticipated bankruptcy claims.

    Both the Vogtle and VC Summer plants are years behind schedule and costs are mounting. While development of those plants will likely continue, there are rumblings that if Westinghouse goes under, it will likely spell the end of new nuclear development for the time being.

    MIT Technology Review believes a Westinghouse bankruptcy means an end to new nuclear construction in the United States. The news outlet also reports analysts doubt Toshiba will find a buyer for its stake in Westinghouse, nor any construction partners willing to forge ahead with the nuclear plants it planned to build.

    In a recent financial presentation, Toshiba said that it intends to “reduce risk at eight plants currently in progress by thoroughly implementing comprehensive cost reduction measures.” Earlier this year, the company indicated regrets over purchasing Westinghouse.

 

March 25, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Mainstream media barely mentioned climate change, during USA election year

SAD!  Major TV networks spent just 50 minutes on climate
change — combined — last year. Grist, 23 Mar 17 

That’s a dramatic, 66-percent drop in coverage from 2015 across evening and Sunday news programs airing on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, according to a new study from Media Matters. ABC, for one, spent just six minutes on climate issues in 2016.

The networks can’t claim there was a shortage of important climate stories to cover. Hurricane Matthew, the Great Barrier Reef’s continued slow deathrecord-shattering heat, and the official beginning of the Paris climate deal all took place last year…..

Other insights from the study:

  • Together, the networks aired five segments of climate science denial from Trump and his team — without rebuttal.
  • No network covered climate change’s impact on national security or the economy.
  • And none of them aired a single segment on the effect a Trump or Clinton presidency would have on the climate — until after the election.

Great to know that TV news is taking the defining issue of our time so seriously. http://grist.org/briefly/major-tv-networks-spent-just-50-minutes-on-climate-change-combined-last-year/

March 25, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Russia ready to discuss further reduction of nuclear capabilities

According to Russia’s foreign minister, the time has not come yet for the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons, http://tass.com/politics/937006MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. Russia is prepared to discuss the possibility of further reduction of nuclear capabilities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

“We are ready to discuss the possible further gradual reduction of nuclear capabilities but taking into account all factors that affect strategic stability rather than only the quantity of strategic offensive weapons,” the minister said speaking at the Russian General Staff’s Military Academy.

“We are ready to discuss this issue proceeding from the growing urgency of making this process multilateral.”

Lavrov emphasized that the time has not come yet for abandoning nuclear weapons completely. “Efforts to coerce nuclear powers to abandon nuclear weapons have intensified significantly recently. It is absolutely clear that the time has not yet come for that,” he noted.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Another pretend-environmental nuclear front group joins the throng- “Environmental Progress”

“Environmental Progress (EP) is a research and policy organization fighting for clean power and energy justice to achieve nature and prosperity for all”

   

“Nations must work together to develop a long-term plan for new nuclear plant construction to achieve economies of scale”

” Governments should invest directly or provide low-cost loans….financing is the key to opening up the global market….That will require that national governments work together to increase public demand and social acceptance of nuclear”

“What’s needed is an independent, serious and sustained effort by health and medical professionals to help Japanese and other publics to overcome fears based on grossly unscientific information…..

The truth is that human beings around the world have been victimized by fake news about nuclear power since the late 1960s. When most people learn the basic facts about nuclear they become far more supportive of it”.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

First Energy calls for tax-payer bailout of financially failing nuclear power stations

FirstEnergy exec calls for ‘urgent’ aid, Toledo Blade, Belcher: Davis-Besse’s premature closing is real, OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Calling warnings of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant’s premature closure “real” and the need for a bailout “urgent,” FirstEnergy Corp.’s top nuclear official left little doubt Friday that Ottawa County’s largest employer is in trouble.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Planet is now in “unchartered territory” with record-breaking climate change

Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/21/record-breaking-climate-change-world-uncharted-territory

Earth is a planet in upheaval, say scientists, as the World Meteorological Organisation publishes analysis of recent heat highs and ice lows, Guardian, , 20 Mar 17,  The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise.

Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Niño – a natural climate cycle – added to the heat in 2016. The El Niño is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the US in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows.

“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory,” said David Carlson, director of the WMO’s world climate research programme.

“Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” said Jeffrey Kargel, a glaciologist at the University of Arizona in the US. “In general, drastically changing conditions do not help civilisation, which thrives on stability.”

 The WMO report was “startling”, said Prof David Reay, an emissions expert at the University of Edinburgh: “The need for concerted action on climate change has never been so stark nor the stakes so high.”

The new WMO assessment also prompted some scientists to criticise Donald Trump. “While the data show an ever increasing impact of human activities on the climate system, the Trump administration and senior Republicans in Congress continue to bury their heads in the sand,” said Prof Sir Robert Watson, a distinguished climate scientist at the UK’s University of East Anglia and a former head of the UN’s climate science panel.

“Our children and grandchildren will look back on the climate deniers and ask how they could have sacrificed the planet for the sake of cheap fossil fuel energy, when the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of a transition to a low-carbon economy,” Watson said.

Trump is aiming to cut climate change research. But the WMO’s secretary-general Petteri Taalas said: “Continued investment in climate research and observations is vital if our scientific knowledge is to keep pace with the rapid rate of climate change.”

2016 saw the hottest global average among thermometer measurements stretching back to 1880. But scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about 115,000 years ago and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for 4m years.

2017 has seen temperature records continue to tumble, in the US where February was exceptionally warm, and in Australia, where prolonged and extreme heat struck many states. The consequences have been particularly stark at the poles.

“Arctic ice conditions have been tracking at record low conditions since October, persisting for six consecutive months, something not seen before in the [four-decade] satellite data record,” said Prof Julienne Stroeve, at University College London in the UK. “Over in the southern hemisphere, the sea ice also broke new record lows in the seasonal maximum and minimum extents, leading to the least amount of global sea ice ever recorded.”

Emily Shuckburgh, at the British Antarctic Survey, said: “The Arctic may be remote, but changes that occur there directly affect us. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet is already contributing significantly to sea level rise, and new research is highlighting that the melting of Arctic sea ice can alter weather conditions across Europe, Asia and North America.”

Global sea level rise surged between November 2014 and February 2016, with the El Niño event helping the oceans rise by 15mm. That jump would have take five years under the steady rise seen in recent decades, as ice caps melt and oceans get warmer and expand in volume. Final data for 2016 sea level rise have yet to be published.

Climate change harms people most directly by increasing the risk of extreme weather events and the WMO report states that these raised risks can increasingly be calculated. For example, the Arctic heatwaves are made tens of times more likely and the soaring temperatures seen in Australia in February were made twice as likely.

“With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” said Taalas.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change fuelled by corruption

How Corruption Fuels Climate Change, https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/extractive-industry-disclosure-rules-by-lili-fuhr-and-simon-taylor-1-2017-03, Lili Fuhr heads the Ecology and Sustainable Development Department at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. SIMON TAYLOR Simon Taylor is Co-Founder and Director of Global Witness and Co-Founder of the 2002 “Publish What You Pay” campaign for mandatory disclosure mechanisms in extractive industries.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

The new normal is now weather extremes

Climate change makes weather extremes the new normal http://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-makes-weather-extremes-the-new-normal/a-38085847   On World Meteorological Day, DW provides an overview of how global warming is changing our lived experience of the climate. News of the hottest year, the wettest winter and suffocating summers are no longer a surprise. We’re getting used to extreme weather – and that’s worrying.

In 2016, Earth’s surface reached its warmest temperatures since 1880. It was the third year in a row to set a global record, as confirmed in the recently published World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016.

Not surprisingly, 2017 is also expected to follow the trend, even though February 2017 was slightly cooler than the same month last year.

During the 20th century, the average temperature on Earth increased by around 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (1 Celsius). That may not seem much. But for comparison, temperatures during the last ice age were only 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than today, according to NASA.

Small changes in temperature mean huge changes for the environment, and the Earth’s climate record shows such fluctuations have been extremely rare historically. Violent weather

Extreme weather events used to occur on average only once in 100 years, but climate change is increasing their frequency, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns. And people and ecosystems around the world are feeling the impact.

Hurricane Matthew  had devastating consequences in Haiti and part of the United States. Severe droughts and floods in 2016 have affected millions of people around the world.

Australia recently saw a severe heat wave and after years of severe drought, California is now dealing with extreme floods.

In May, Canada suffered its most damaging wildfire – and most costly natural disaster – ever. Some months later, the United States also experienced its most destructive wildfire in modern history.

Europe hasn’t escaped either. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had their wettest winter on record. Intense flooding hit France and Germany during May and June 2016, while France had its driest July and August on record.

European natural wonders such as the Alps are also at risk. The mountainous area is heating up twice as fast as the global average, which could lead to fire seasons lasting 30 to 50 days longer by 2050.

In March 2017, much of Peru is under a state of emergency due to devastating floods.

While some of these events are directly related to human activity and climate change, some remain under question. Climate change to blame

The 2016 European Environmental Agency report on climate change impacts, stated that global climate change had significantly increased the probability of extreme climate events in Europe.

Despite a range of factors leading to extreme weather, the vast majority of scientists have no doubt that extreme weather is connected to climate change.

While climate change may not be directly be causing, such events it is to blame for the increasing frequency and strength with which they hit.

Referring to Peru’s recent floods, Mojib Latif, a professor of oceanology and climate dynamics at GEOMA (the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany), said El Nino events have indeed become more frequent and stronger in recent decades.

The extreme El Nino climate pattern corresponds to climate change models, he said. However, he emphasized, it is still unclear whether this will become a trend.

While causes of recent natural disasters are still questioned, a recent study published in Nature Climate Change exposes a close relationship between global warming and concrete climate events.

Peak temperatures influence precipitation rates: For every additional degree Celsius, precipitation rates can increase from 5 to 10 percent.

For scientists, the link between fossil fuel emissions and global warming that is contributing to extreme weather is also beyond question.

“With carbon dioxide reaching a record annual average concentration of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary general, said in the report.

Disastrous consequences   Drought has left millions of people – mainly in Africa – starving because crops have failed, while flooding has displaced thousands of communities in Southeast Asia, the WMO reports.

Agricultural production is at risk in countries affected by flooding – not to mention those hit by natural disasters such as hurricanes. That not only puts food security at risk, but has broader economic impacts.

For example, in Australia a threat to agricultural production could have major consequences, as it represents one of the main pillars of the country’s economy, the Australian Climate Council reported. Extreme weather events linked to global warming have reprecussions throughout society.

The Union of Concerned Scientists mentions, among others: public health impacts, infrastructural and economic costs, and the destruction of biodiversity.

In cooler climes such as Germany, an early spring might put a smile on many people’s faces. But its global consequences threaten to create a very bleak future.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

America and Russia must cooperate to thwart nuclear terrorism

The growing threat of nuclear terrorism, America and Russia must cooperate to thwart rogue state attacks, WT – – Thursday, March 23, 2017 The greatest challenge to global security is the nuclear threat from rogue states, led by North Korea and Iran. There will be no progress in ensuring global nuclear stability without cooperation between the United States and Russia. This should be a major priority for Presidents Trump and Putin. Much has been made of states trying to secure their borders against terrorist threats. While it is essential that borders are secured, terrorism is tackled and hatred confronted, we cannot ignore the greatest contemporary threat of all, nuclear attacks. It feels remote and unlikely, but is a very clear and present danger.

It is essential for the international community to remain alert to the constantly growing threat of nuclear terrorism, in whatever form it may take, ranging from the detonation of a ‘dirty’ bomb by a terror group or the destruction a nuclear facility to a full-fledged nuclear attack………

The leaders of Russia, the United States, Britain, China and other important powers around the world, must make countering nuclear terrorism the highest priority, and can only do so by upholding international security with cooperation. This must extend to reviving all previously adopted initiatives and resolutions on nuclear terrorism without delay.

Only with state sanctioned collaboration between intelligence agencies and special operations services, especially Russian and American, will we be able to secure nuclear activity and actively neutralize the risk of nuclear terrorist attacks.

Presidents Trump and Putin have tough jobs, but without cooperation and decisive action on the nuclear threat global security is left in a desperately vulnerable state.

• Moshe Kantor is president of the International Luxembourg Forum For Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/23/nuclear-terrorism-a-real-threat/

March 25, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New nuclear front group “Environmental Progress” still takes a dim view of the nuclear industry’s future

The Future of Nuclear by Michael Shellenberger“……My colleagues and I wanted to get an accurate account of nuclear status based on a nation-by-nation, plant-by-plant assessment, and so over the last three months we researched and have now rated for the likelihood of opening and closing:

·      Every operating nuclear plant in the world;
·      Every nuclear plant being built;
·      Every nuclear plant being proposed.

We conclude that if nothing changes, more nuclear plants are likely to close than open between now and 2030.

If our forecast is correct, it would be a continuation of nuclear’s absolute decline since 2006, and an acceleration of its relative decline (as a share of total global electricity) since 1996……

The truth about nuclear is quite simple. Only nuclear power can lift all humans out of poverty …….  renewables are no substitute for either nuclear or fossil fuels……

Nor is the economics of nuclear much of an obstacle when it comes to building new nuclear plants…..

 if we are to make a comeback, we have to confront reality. Almost all of nuclear’s problems — including the ones that have been self-inflicted — come from anti-nuclear advocates who lie to journalists, policymakers and the public, and manipulate their fears….http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/3/23/the-future-of-nuclear

March 25, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change: historic drought led to civil war in Syria, and later to UK’s Brexit – Al Gore

Climate change played key role in Syrian civil war and helped Brexit, Al Gore says, http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/nation-world/national/article140523093.htmlAn 24 Mar 17, historic drought in Syria led to that nation’s civil war, which, in turn, helped Brexit pass in England, according to former United States Vice President Al Gore who explained his theory at a conference in London this week.

Gore, who has long argued that humans are causing climate change, won an Oscar for his climate-change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“From 2006 to 2010, 60 percent of the farms in Syria were destroyed and had to be abandoned. Eighty percent of the livestock were killed. The drought in the eastern Mediterranean is the worst ever recorded,” Gore said according to several press reports.

The drought, Gore says, forced more than a million Syrians into cities where they “collided” with refugees from the Iraq War, setting the stage for the Syrian Civil War. Gore said that WikiLeaks documents revealed internal conversations among the Syrian government.

Gore is not the first to tie the severe drought to climate change or the civil war that followed.

“They were saying to one another, ‘We can’t handle this. There’s going to be a social explosion.’ There are other causes of the Syrian civil war,” Gore said, “but this was the principle one.”

That conflict, which began in July 2011, has killed more than 450,000 Syrians and displaced more than 12 million Syrians, according to Al-Jazeera. CNN reports more than 4.8 million Syrians have left the country due to the conflict, which started as a government crackdown in response to protests.

Many of those fleeing the country have migrated to Europe, creating crises in several European nations. That, Gore says, helped lead to Brexit. In June of 2016, citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Many linked the ongoing refugee crisis to the vote to leave.

“It has unleashed with other factors this incredible flow of refugees into Europe, which is creating political instability in Europe,” Gore said, “and which contributed in some ways to the desire of some in the U.K., to say, ‘Wow, we’re not sure we want to be a part of that anymore.’ ”

The Trump administration does not share Gore’s views on human-caused climate change and has already rolled back numerous Obama-era environmental protections.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt told CNBC that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, said climate change research programs are “a waste of your money” while unveiling Trump’s first budget proposal.

“Regarding the questions as to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward. We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that,” Mulvaney said.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Syria | Leave a comment

A declassified report describes strange UFO incident near a nuclear station

DECLASSIFIED: TR-3B UFO staked out nuclear power plant, claims shock government report http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/783479/TR-3B-UFO-Cooper-Nuclear-Station-Nebraska-Black-Vault  A TRIANGLE-shaped UFO hovered above a nuclear power plant for two consecutive nights newly declassified government files have revealed.  By JON AUSTIN, Mar 24, 2017  Papers released under freedom of information laws describe reports by a former security officer at the power plant describing the strange incident.

The unnamed officer worked at the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville, Nebraska, according to the files released by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The incident was described as an “unidentified flying object violating the protected area at the station”.

According to the documents, the report was only received by the former employee in June 2010.

The report said: “An unidentified flying (UFO) object violated the protected area at Cooper Nuclear Station between 1986 and 1989, but the event was not reported to the NRC as required.

“The CI [confidential informant] described an event that occurred during his employment as a security officer.

“He was employed there from 1986 through 1989 and did not remember specifically when during that time the event occurred.

“While posted at the intake structure one night, he observed an ‘unidentified flying object’ fly down the Missouri River about 150 feet in the air and hover in front of the intake. He observed it for a few moments and then contacted a fellow security officer who also observed it.”

It said that after they watched it together, the object went back up the river.

Colleagues did not believe the pair, it was reported.

It said the following evening, the officer saw the UFO return.

He did not tell anyone until it came into the protected area and hovered just north of the reactor building.

The man described it as triangular in shape with a rotating circle of lights on the bottom. This matches the description of the alleged TR-3B triangular UFO, which some conspiracy theorists claim is a secret US spy craft developed using reverse engineered alien technology taken from crashed flying saucers.

It was also reportedly silent and a third of the size of the reactor building.

He the called the security room and most officers on shift reportedly saw it.

The report addedL “These individuals included (names reacted), all of whom still work at the plant today.

“After hovering there for a few minutes, the UFO exited the protected area and returned back up the river to the north as it had the previous night.

“The CI said that he never saw the UFO at the plant again after that evening.”The whistleblower said the incident should have been reported as a violation of the protected area space but was not reported.

The documents show that Nick Taylor, the NRC senior resident inspector, searched for corroborating documents from the time, but found nothing.

However, he said: “I’d be careful about concluding that if an event wasn’t recorded in CAP [Corrective Action Program] that it did not occur.”

The files were published on UFO website TheBlackVault.com, whose founder John Greenewald requested they be released.

The website includes millions of declassified documents, many obtained by Mr Greenewald.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment