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The reasons for the global inaction on climate change

Curbing climate change: Why it’s so hard to act in time, The Conversation   Timothy H. Dixon
Professor, Geology and Geophysics, Natural and human-caused hazards, sea level rise and climate change, University of South Florida,  August 18, 2017
 This summer I worked on the Greenland ice sheet, part of a scientific experiment to study surface melting and its contribution to Greenland’s accelerating ice losses. By virtue of its size, elevation and currently frozen state, Greenland has the potential to cause large and rapid increases to sea level as it melts.

When I returned, a nonscientist friend asked me what the research showed about future sea level rise. He was disappointed that I couldn’t say anything definite, since it will take several years to analyze the data. This kind of time lag is common in science, but it can make communicating the issues difficult. That’s especially true for climate change, where decades of data collection may be required to see trends.

A recent draft report on climate change by federal scientists exploits data captured over many decades to assess recent changes, and warns of a dire future if we don’t change our ways. Yet few countries are aggressively reducing their emissions in a way scientists say are needed to avoid the dangers of climate change.

While this lack of progress dismays people, it’s actually understandable. Human beings have evolved to focus on immediate threats. We have a tough time dealing with risks that have time lags of decades or even centuries. As a geoscientist, I’m used to thinking on much longer time scales, but I recognize that most people are not. I see several kinds of time lags associated with climate change debates. It’s important to understand these time lags and how they interact if we hope to make progress.

Agreeing on the goal

Changing the basic energy underpinnings of our industrial economy will not be easy or cheap, and will require broad public support……

Designing cleaner technologies

It will also take time for technological developments to support our transition to a low-carbon energy future. Here, at least, there is reason for optimism. A few decades ago renewable energy sources such as wind and solar seemed unlikely to replace a significant fraction of carbon-based energy. Similarly, electric vehicles seemed unlikely to meet a significant share of our transportation needs. Today both are realistic alternatives……

Funding the transition

Once we finally decide to make a low-carbon transition and figure out how to do it, it will cost trillions of dollars. Capital markets can’t provide that sort of funding instantaneously……

The natural carbon cycle

Our ability to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere greatly exceeds nature’s ability to remove it. There is a time lag between carbon emission and carbon removal. The process is complicated, with multiple pathways, some of which operate over centuries…….. most of the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere today will continue to heat the world for hundreds to thousands of years.

Today the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is just over 400 parts per million, rising by about 3 ppm yearly. Given the political, technological and economic time lags that we face, it’s likely that we will hit at least 450-500 ppm before we can seriously curtail our carbon emissions. The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained this much carbon dioxide was several million years ago, during the Pliocene era. Global temperatures were much higher than 2°C above today’s average, and global sea level was at least 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) higher.

We haven’t seen comparable temperature or sea level increases so far because of time lags in Earth’s climate response. It takes a while for our elevated carbon dioxide levels to trigger impacts on this scale. Given the various time lags that are in play, it is quite possible that we have already exceeded the 2°C rise over preindustrial temperatures – a threshold most scientists say we should avoid – but it hasn’t shown up on the thermometer yet.

We may not be able to predict exactly how much future temperatures or sea levels will rise, but we do know that unless we curb our carbon emissions, our planet will be a very uncomfortable place for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Large-scale social changes take time: they are the sum of many individual changes, in both attitudes and behaviors. To minimize that time lag, we need to start acting now.   https://theconversation.com/curbing-climate-change-why-its-so-hard-to-act-in-time-80117

August 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Their town is headed for drowning – but they still doubt that climate change is real

Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don’t buy the science
The small Louisiana town of Cameron could be the first in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels – and yet locals, 90% of whom voted for Trump, still aren’t convinced about climate change, Guardian, 
Shannon Sims in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, 18 Aug 17,  In 50 years, the region near where I grew up, Cameron Parish in south-west Louisiana, will likely be no more. Or rather, it will exist, but it may be underwater, according to the newly published calculations of the Louisianagovernment. Coastal land loss is on the upswing, and with each hurricane that sweeps over the region, the timeline is picking up speed.

As a result, Cameron, the principal town in this 6,800-person parish (as counties are called in Louisiana), could be the first town in the US to be fully submerged by rising sea levels and flooding. So it’s here one would expect to feel the greatest sense of alarm over climate change and its consequences.

Instead, Cameron has earned a different kind of fame: it’s the county that, percentage-wise, voted more in favor of Trump than any other county in the US in last year’s election. Nearly 90% of the population did.

Why would some of the people most vulnerable to climate change vote for a politician skeptical of climate change’s existence? Why would people in Cameron Parish support policies that could ruin them?……..

…..”Because of the rules and regulations, it costs so much to live here.”

Many locals in Cameron repeat this phrase – “rules and regulations”. They’re referring to the strict construction rules placed on residents who wanted to return to Cameron and rebuild after Rita and Ike hit the town. As a result, all structures needed to be raised in order to qualify for hurricane insurance. The result is a humble town whose homes appear strangely grandiose: single-story modest brick houses now rest on top of large, grassy man-made hills, a kind of south Louisianacastle…….

As for her politics, Smith thinks Cameron’s residents voted for Trump because “we think he could help the oil field out, and hopefully stop the imported seafood from coming into our country so our people can make a living,” she says.

Smith, like most of the residents of Cameron, has been highly dependent on state and federal assistance programs to recover after the storms. But what if, in Trump’s push to shrink the size of the government, recovery programs are cut?

“We’d be screwed,” she says frankly. “But that doesn’t change my opinion about Trump,” she quickly adds. “Outsiders think that everybody is just looking for a handout down here, but there is hard-working people that live here. There are just not many jobs right now, especially if all you know is commercial fishing. Even if Trump cuts those programs that helped us, we gonna make it one way or another here, with or without help. Down here we survive.”…….

Vail says he’s pleased with the drawdown on environmental restrictions that Trump has instituted since taking office.

“When he took office he stopped the EPA’s Waters of the US rule, where anything that would flow into a navigable tributary would have had jurisdiction under the EPA. Well, navigable tributaries go through half the land I farm. So you’re saying a ditch I put in my field to drain the water off, then that the land comes under your jurisdiction? You can tell me when I can go into it, and what I can use as fertilizer?”………

Mr Benny’s son lets me know that their alligator hunting business has brought in a high-end clientele. He brings out a photo of a grinning Donald Trump Jr taken during an alligator hunting trip. That personal connection has helped inform Mr Benny’s politics. “I’m Donald Trump all the way,” he says with a smile.

Even though Mr Benny’s family has been directly impacted by hurricanes, and even though the state mapping agency indicates that his home will be submerged within 50 years due to coastal land loss, Mr Benny isn’t buying it.

“I don’t believe it,” he says, shaking his head. “I don’t believe that the tide is gonna rise 10 feet and that the Ice Age is coming and stuff like that.” Like many of the residents here in Cameron, Mr Benny sees time on a longer horizon than others might. “I been here 75 years, you understand?,” he reminds me with gentle force. “And I’ve lived on the water and guess what? The tides still come up almost the same way, and there is no flooding. And today our front marshes aren’t underwater.”

“If you go by what the real scientists say, there’s no proof. In the last 10 years the average temperature of the world hasn’t even risen a half degree………

Theriot seems caught between her job as a science educator and her life as a longtime Cameron resident, tasked with teaching about the environment in a fiercely red town. “…….“But I think the data is incomplete. And I am still not sure about climate change. I am still researching it. I feel like I don’t have enough good sources to say yes or no on if climate change is a real thing.”

Now, from her elevated balcony overlooking the old slabs, she takes a clearer position. “I’m a big proponent of the oil industry, because that’s how my family and my community made a lot of its money. So that is my livelihood. So it is hard for me to point that finger.”….

….Dyson is not particularly concerned about the forecasts that show the coast disappearing over the coming decades. He thinks global warming is a gossipy scam……. Instead, Dyson says that what worries him most are the environmental regulations ostensibly intended to save the coast. “The laws are already there to protect the coast. And I understand Trump is not 100% environmentalist. But I think it’s a good thing to get the government out of our lives. I don’t want any more environmental regulations. I don’t want any more fishing laws. And I don’t want a lot of restrictions where people can’t make a living.”….. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/18/louisiana-climate-change-skeptics-donald-trump-support

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Navy respons to challenge of climate change

How the U.S. Navy is Responding to Climate Change, Harvard Business Review AUGUST 18, 2017 FOREST REINHARDT AND MICHAEL TOFFEL, Harvard Business School professors, talk about how a giant, global enterprise that operates and owns assets at sea level is fighting climate change—and adapting to it. They discuss what the private sector can learn from the U.S. Navy’s scientific and sober view of the world. Reinhardt and Toffel are the authors of “MANAGING CLIMATE CHANGE: LESSONS FROM THE U.S. NAVY” in the July–August 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. “……The U.S. Navy is raising its bases, using early storm warning systems, and increasingly powering its missions with the sun, instead of fossil fuels……

FOREST REINHARDT: ………. the Navy is our primary waterborne military force. And as the planet warms, the amount of water is going to increase. That is, the area near the poles, which until quite recently has been closed to marine traffic for much if not all of the year, is going to be increasingly open as the ice melts. You think the last time the Western world really encountered a new ocean was in the early part of the 1500s, and the same kinds of opportunities and conflicts are going to exist in the Arctic.

 A second reason is that climate change is potentially destabilizing to societies, especially societies which are not particularly rich and not particularly well governed. And as those societies become increasingly stressed by things like drought and storm severity, the kinds of behaviors that call the military into action are going to become more frequent, whether those are wars or internal conflicts or just need for humanitarian assistance.

MICHAEL TOFFEL: And this is why the military refers to climate change as a threat multiplier. Many have made the connection between the breakdown of societies in the Middle East, in particular in Syria, for example, to be attributed to changing rainwater and other precipitation patterns. So you see these problems right now behind the growth of ISIS. You see these problems also with the migration into Europe and Europe’s struggle with what to do with these migrants. These are examples of issues that climate scientists suggest are only going to get worse in the coming decades..…..

….The Navy also is investing in massive amounts of solar to power their bases. But it’s not motivated so much by those effects that I just mentioned the private sector is trying to claim. It’s really about, in their case, about mission readiness and the resilience of their bases. They want to be sure that as climate change occurs with more intensive storms that that’s not going to knock out the power grids that supply their bases. So they’re investing in some of these power sources because of their distributed nature—the fact that they can produce power on site and not have to rely on long distance ge

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

New allegations of fraud concerning “clean coal”

Environmentalists have long objected to calling a coal-fired carbon capture and sequestration project “clean coal,” arguing that the label is misleading because it focuses on carbon dioxide pollution while ignoring other problems like acid rain and airborne contaminants. And carbon capture projects rely on continuing fossil fuel production, because the CO2 that’s captured is sold to oil companies who pump it into aging wells to coax more oil from the ground.

Politicians nevertheless continue to use the term. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” President Donald Trump said this spring. “We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

New Fraud Allegations Emerge at Troubled ‘Clean Coal’ Project As Southern Co. Records Multi-Billion Loss, Desmog  By Sharon Kelly • Tuesday, August 8, 2017 Southern Co. is accused of fraudulently misrepresenting the prospects for its troubled “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi in several legal filings this summer.

Southern announced in late July that it was shuttering the troubled “clean coal” part of Kemper after construction ran years behind schedule and the company spent $7.5 billion on the 582 megawatt power plant — over $5 billion more than it first projected.In a lawsuit filed today, Brett Wingo, a former Southern Company engineer, alleges he warned the company’s top executives that it would not be possible to meet key construction deadlines. Management responded by retaliating against him, the complaint asserts, and Southern continued to assure investors and the public that Kemper’s schedule and budget targets would be met, then blamed unpredictable factors like the weather when those goals were missed.

Wingo’s claim that Southern misled investors by concealing construction-related problems drew national attention in a front page New York Times investigation last year. In January, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded that Wingo had suffered a “continuing pattern of retaliatory treatment” and ordered Southern to reinstate Wingo, but the company has refused, according to a statement accompanying the lawsuit. (The case is “Brett Wingo v. The Southern Company, et al.,” Case No. 2:17-cv-01328-MHH in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division.)

A second less-noticed legal filing with Mississippi state regulators accuses Southern of misrepresenting Kemper’s prospects right from the outset, before construction even began. Those claims center on Southern’s projections for what it would cost to operate and maintain the plant once it was up and running, which the filing asserts were so low they were “indefensible”.

In an email to DeSmog, Wingo seconds those claims, saying that he believes management knew back in 2012 that its “operation and maintenance” (O&M) projections were off — but kept the accurate numbers under wraps for years.

“By hiding the true O& M costs for so long, apparently since 2012 and likely longer, Fanning basically ensured shareholders would be forced to absorb $6 billion in losses,” Wingo told DeSmog.

“In 2012, sunk costs on Kemper were only around $1 billion and the natural gas part of the plant substantially complete. It would have been a perfect time to stop a runaway train from running off the end of the tracks,” he added. “But history shows, that’s not what Fanning and Southern Company chose to do.”…….

 

Spending Money to Make Money

Why would a company want to build a power plant that’s too expensive to run? Part of the answer, critics say, is the way that utilities like power companies are regulated.

Because they are essentially regulated monopolies, the laws governing how utilities like power companies make money are different than most industries, as explained in a  2015 Wall Street Journal article titled “Utilities’ Profit Recipe: Spend More.”

“[U]tilities have another incentive for heavy spending; It actually boosts their bottom lines — the result of a regulatory system that turns corporate accounting on its head,” The Journal reported, explaining that as long as state-level regulators sign off on a project, regulated utilities get a fixed percentage of what they spend as a profit……..

Clean Coal?

Kemper was supposed to be an engineering feat, able to turn the world’s least efficient but most abundant form of coal, lignite coal, into a climate-friendly fuel. That’s “climate friendly” as compared to the kind of coal-burning power plants upon which the U.S. has historically relied for the bulk of its electricity……..

Environmentalists have long objected to calling a coal-fired carbon capture and sequestration project “clean coal,” arguing that the label is misleading because it focuses on carbon dioxide pollution while ignoring other problems like acid rain and airborne contaminants. And carbon capture projects rely on continuing fossil fuel production, because the CO2 that’s captured is sold to oil companies who pump it into aging wells to coax more oil from the ground.

Politicians nevertheless continue to use the term. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” President Donald Trump said this spring. “We’re going to have clean coal, really clean coal.”

Asked about the prospects for new “clean coal” projects in general after Kemper’s shuttering, a top Department of Energy official was dubious. EIA chief Howard Gruenspecht noted the role of natural gas prices, as well as the lower price of oil, which hurts the price of carbon sold to enhance oil recovery.

“In some parts of the world, one could imagine perhaps some efforts there but the cost situation is very, very challenging, certainly in the United States,” Gruenspecht told DeSmog. “One does not have to have an issue with the technology itself, it’s very impressive, but it’s a question of whether things really pencil out or not — there are some significant challenges.” https://www.desmogblog.com/2017/08/08/southern-company-fraud-allegations-kemper-clean-coal-project?utm_source=dsb%20newsletter

 

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Mainstream media and government will now probably ignore the new climate change report

Editorial: New climate change report likely to be ignored to death http://www.stltoday.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-new-climate-change-report-likely-to-be-ignored-to/article_80383a19-d671-5703-b909-f928f594e75b.html, By the Editorial Board  Aug 17, 2017 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially confirmed last week that 2016 was the Earth’s hottest year on record, surpassing 2015, which surpassed 2014. The NOAA had reported this unofficially back in January. What made last week’s announcement noteworthy is that the NOAA is now part of the administration of President Donald Trump, who has famously called global warming a “hoax.”

Climate change denial is getting a little tricky for the president and his fellow Republicans. Politicoreported last week that some business groups, including those allied with Charles and David Koch’s powerful interests, are pushing back against the aggressive efforts of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to deny human-induced climate change.

These groups would rather not argue against the scientific consensus that man-made global warming is a growing threat. They want to roll back environmental regulations anyway without getting into debates that might hurt moderate Republicans. It’s an amazingly cynical strategy: Don’t argue the evidence or address the problem. Just ignore it.

The Trump administration has another chance this week to consider the choice between deny and ignore. Friday is the deadline for the heads of the 13 federal agencies that study various aspects of climate change to sign off on a draft of the Climate Science Special Report compiled by the scientists who work for their agencies. The report is part of the quadrennial National Climate Assessment mandated by Congress in 1990.

The draft was posted on the private nonprofit Internet Archive in January at a time when scientists feared that Trump might halt all climate research. It came to light last week when The New York Times reported that some government scientists were still concerned about potential Trump administration censorship.

The 673-page report largely reflects findings of hundreds, if not thousands, of previous studies of climate change, including those of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is not surprising: Good science must be replicable.

 This report concludes that “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

Scientists don’t throw terms like “extremely likely” around casually. It means a 95 percent to 100 percent probability. And yet Pruitt, Trump’s chief environmental official, scoffs at the concept that carbon dioxide released by human activity is a primary cause of global warming.

The draft report ventures into the quickly evolving field of “attribution science,” suggesting that there’s a “very high level of confidence” that global warming is responsible for extreme temperatures and “high confidence” that it’s responsible for extreme precipitation.

The scientific argument is over. It’s silly to deny it. It’s shameful to know it and ignore it.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

State legislatures made nuclear power LOOK profitable – when it wasn’t!

How ‘waste not, want not’ became ‘spend more, profit more The State, IT’S GOT to be one of the toughest decisions we ever face: When do we bail?…..

August 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA interception of nuclear missile could start nuclear war between Russia and America,

North Korea Could Unleash the Unthinkable: Nuclear War Between Russia and America, National Interest,  Dave Majumdar, 18 Aug 17, In the event that North Korea tests another Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) or potentially launches an attack on the United States, the Pentagon could try to intercept those missiles with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. However, as many analysts have pointed out, the interceptors that miss their target could reenter the Earth’s atmosphere inside Russian airspace. Such an eventuality could prove to be a serious problem unless steps are taken to address the issue now.

“You should also be aware of the concern that those interceptors fired from Alaska that miss or don’t engage an incoming North Korean ICBM(s) will continue on and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association told The National Interest.

“This carries a nontrivial risk of unintended escalation.”

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told The National Interest that the United States should open a dialogue with Russia on the issue immediately.

“Good god, yes,” Lewis said emphatically.

Olya Oliker, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies agreed.

“We have time now to consult with Moscow, talk about plans, discuss how notification would work,” Oliker told The National Interest.

“This isn’t the rocket science part of all this.”

Indeed, in a recent op-ed, Lewis argues that an American interceptor launch could accidentally trigger a nuclear exchange if the Russians mistook such a weapon for an incoming ICBM.

“We can’t assume that Russia would realize the launch from Alaska was a missile defense interceptor rather than an ICBM. From Russia, the trajectories might appear quite similar, especially if the radar operator was under a great deal of stress or pressure,” Lewis wrote for The Daily Beast.

“It doesn’t matter how Russia’s early warning system ought to work on paper, the reality of the Russian system in practice has been a lot less impressive.”

Joshua H. Pollack, editor of the The Nonproliferation Review and a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said that the danger is real.

“Whether they actually would enter Russian airspace is probably less important than whether they break the line of sight of Russia’s early-warning radars,” Pollack said…….

Pavel Podvig, an independent analyst based in Geneva who runs the Russian Nuclear Forces research project disagreed with Lewis and Pollack. Podvig noted that the Russian early warning system is in far better shape today than it was during the 1990s. While a GMD launch from Alaska might cause alarm, the Russian philosophy has been to essentially absorb the first initial blows before launching a retaliatory counterstrike.

“The Russian system is built to ‘absorb’ events like this,” Podvig told The National Interest……..

The Russians, however, are not too worried by the prospect of discarded American interceptors landing on their soil. However, Moscow would likely want to be consulted because the interceptors might set off Russia’s ballistic missile early warning system (BMEWS)……..

What is surprising to the Russians is that the United States did not install a self-destruct system on the GMD interceptors to prevent the missiles from landing where they should not……..

the United States should probably consult with Russia about the possibility of intercepting North Korean ICBMs over Moscow’s territory and set up an agreement ahead of time. But even then, during a real intercept attempt, the United States will likely have to count on Russia’s early warning system operating correctly and the Kremlin’s restraint to avoid an unintended nuclear war.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @Davemajumdar.  http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/north-korea-could-unleash-the-unthinkable-nuclear-war-21948

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ready at last for cleaning up Kyrgyzstan’s old uranium sites

Kyrgyzstan one step closer to remediation of uranium legacy sites https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/18505-kyrgyzstan-one-step-closer-to-remediation-of-uranium-legacy-sites, 18 August 2017BISHKEK (TCA) — The EU welcomes the swift ratification by Kyrgyzstan of an agreement that allows environmental remediation in a number of uranium legacy sites in the country to go ahead, the Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic said on August 18.

All the basic conditions are now in place to start actual remediation work. Support has been provided to the Kyrgyz Government on the matter as part of the EU’s environmental strategy for Central Asia. The importance of these initiatives was once more confirmed in June when the EU discussed the overall progress of this environmental strategy.

The areas concerned are the uranium legacy sites of Min-Kush, Shekaftar and Mailuu-Suu. The EU has funded technical studies and environmental impact assessment. These studies allow remediation work to first start in Min-Kush and Shekaftar.

It is now clear what needs to be done to improve the living conditions in the areas. Remediation work will be implemented through the EBRD managed multilateral Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA). The EU is currently the only contributor to the ERA fund with an initial contribution of €16.5 million.

The preparatory work done so far is also supported by a Strategic Master Plan for Environmental Remediation of Uranium Legacy Sites in Central Asia. This plan was prepared under the leadership of the IAEA and it has further strengthened the technical basis on which the activities are to be done.

As a next step, the Kyrgyz Government is asked to set up the necessary structures to manage the projects. Technical assistance will be provided.

The Strategic Master Plan will be signed in September during the IAEA’s General Conference. At the same time in New York a special event will take place to further explain and discuss the progress made following a UN resolution of 2013 calling for international support to mitigate the risks in Central Asia as a result of the uranium legacy.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | environment, Kyrgyzstan | Leave a comment

V. C. Summer former nuclear workers filing lawsuits against nuclear plant employers

Attorneys filing lawsuits against nuclear plant employers, http://wach.com/news/local/attorneys-filing-lawsuits-against-nuclear-plant-employersby Michelle Zhu, 18 Aug 17, 

It’s called the WARN Act, which stands for Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification. It requires employers of more than 100 workers to provide 60 day advance notice of mass layoffs. In response, Attorney Jack Raisner and his partners filed lawsuits against both Westinghouse and SCANA at the beginning of August.

At this point, complaints have been filed and the Outten and Golden firm is waiting for an answer. Attorney Raisner says they can’t guarantee an outcome but they feel confident something will come out of the case. If the plaintiffs win, all employees will receive up to eight weeks of lost pay, plus benefits. The process could take as little as a few months or up to several years.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | employment, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

NRC to Amend Rules on Medical Uses of Radioactive Materials

 https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2017/17-038.pdf
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved amendments to its requirements for medical uses of radioactive materials. A final rule, approved Aug. 17, modifies 10 CFR Part 35 and makes conforming changes to Parts 30 and 32. The rule will be published in the coming months in the Federal Register after the NRC staff makes certain revisions directed by the Commission.
The changes will amend the definition of medical events associated with permanent implant brachytherapy; update training and experience requirements for authorized users, medical physicists, radiation safety officers, and nuclear pharmacists; address a petition the NRC received seeking to recognize the qualifications of board certified physicists and radiation safety officers not specifically named on a license; change requirements for measuring molybdenum contamination and reporting generator tests that exceed allowed concentration levels; allow associate radiation safety officers to be named on a medical license; and make several minor clarifications.
While implementing the current regulations, NRC staff, stakeholders, and NRC’s Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes identified the need for the revisions. A proposed rule appeared in the July 21, 2014, Federal Register for 120 days of public comment. The final rule takes those comments into consideration and provides responses to them.

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Inquiry into Millstone nuclear station’s financial situation

Inquiry opens into fiscal condition of Millstone nuclear station, The ct mirror, By: MARK PAZNIOKAS | August 17, 2017 “….. Dominion was non-committal Thursday about whether it will provide the financial data sought by two state agencies tasked by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy with assessing by Feb. 1 whether the state needs to change the rules for how electricity is bought and sold to ensure the financial viability of Millstone.

Dominion offered no testimony Thursday as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority formally opened the assessment with a public hearing in Hartford, the first of several public sessions. Several of its competitors urged the two agencies to grant no relief unless Dominion proves its case…..

At issue is how much longer Millstone will remain profitable. Dominion disputes portions of the MIT study, as well as an assessment prepared in April for the Electric Power Supply Association that concluded the plant is profitable and will remain so for five years…….

Dominion and its opponents, both competitors and consumer advocates like AARP, spent heavily on lobbying during the legislative session to resolve the issue politically. Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group said Dominion hardly was eschewing politics.

“They’re looking to change the rules for them to get a special deal without the expectaton of being treated as a regulated utility, where their return is based on a cost of service,” Swan said during the hearing. “It is unfathomable to me that we would consider doing this.”https://ctmirror.org/2017/08/17/inquiry-opens-into-fiscal-condition-of-millstone-nuclear-station/

August 19, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Escalating dispute at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria

18 Aug 17, The dispute at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria has
escalated amid claims workplace meetings to discuss a 1.5% have been banned
by bosses. The union Unite, which is preparing to ballot its 2,000 members
for industrial over the offer which it says is “completely
unacceptable”, has hit out at the management move.
http://www.thebusinessdesk.com/northwest/news/2008261-union-hits-sellafield-workplace-meetings-%E2%80%98ban%E2%80%99

August 19, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Iodine-129 waste used to track ocean currents for 15,000 km after discharge from nuclear plants

In connection to the article I wrote last August 3, 2017 “Radioactive Contamination of Oceans: Sellafield, La Hague, Fukushima” https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/radioactive-contamination-of-oceans-sellafield-la-hague-fukushima/

This study is about radioactive 129I travelling the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, a 15,000 km journey, legally released since 20 years from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. Of course as usual, in complete disregard of recent studies about the dangerosity of low dose,They emphasise that the radioactivity levels found in the North Atlantic are extremely low and not considered dangerous.

This study still is letting us envisage the travel of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant numerous radioactive contaminants which have been dispersed since March 2011, which still are being dispersed and will be additionally dispersed into the Pacific Ocean.

Radioactive 129I has travelled the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, since being released from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. The iodine’s 15,000 km journey begins in the nuclear plants at Sellafield and La Hague and continues via the Arctic Ocean and then southward via the Grand Banks towards Bermuda, where it is found at very low concentrations about 20 years later. This tracer has been used to provide the most complete up-to-date, high-accuracy mapping of the oceanic currents that transport CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to the abyssal depths of the deep North Atlantic Ocean. These results are being presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Paris.

artic loop of iodine 129 aug 16 2017.png

 

Radioactive contaminants have been legally released for more than half a century from the nuclear reprocessing plants at Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France). Scientists have recently begun to use the radioactive 129iodine (129I) as a way of tracking the movement of ocean currents. They emphasise that the radioactivity levels found in the North Atlantic are extremely low and not considered dangerous.

“What we have found is that by tracing radioactive iodine released into the seas off the UK and France we have been able to confirm how the deep ocean currents flow in the North Atlantic. This is the first study to show precise and continuous tracking of Atlantic water flowing northward into the Arctic Ocean off Norway, circulating around the arctic basins and returning to the Nordic seas in what we call the “Arctic loop”, and then flowing southward down the continental slope of North America to Bermuda at depths below 3000 m” said lead researcher Dr John N. Smith (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada).

The research is part of the international GEOTRACES project, which aims to use geochemical markers to follow ocean currents, and so provide precise estimates of transit times and mixing rates in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. So far the 129I has been measured as far south as Puerto Rico, but the researchers assume that it will continue to flow southward into the South Atlantic and eventually spread throughout the global ocean.

Dr Smith continued, “These currents have previously been studied using dissolved CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) – the molecules which used to be used in fridges until banned in 1989. However, CFCs undergo ocean-atmosphere exchange which means that surface water is continually replenished with CFCs during the arctic leg of the journey, whereas the 129I plume retains the initial imprint of its input history over a long period of years. Further, 129I is relatively easy to detect at extremely low levels using accelerator mass spectrometry methods which gives us a large measurement advantage in terms of the signal to noise ratio. Since we know exactly where the 129I comes from and when it entered the ocean, for the first time we can be absolutely sure that detecting an atom in a particular place is as a specific result of the currents”.

“In many ways this is a bit like the old ‘stick in a stream’ game we used to play as kids – what people call ‘Pooh sticks’ in England – where you would drop a buoyant object in the water and observe where it comes out. Of course, it would be much better if these markers were not in the ocean at all, but they are, and we can use them to do some important environmental science”.

Commenting, Dr Núria Casacuberta Arola (ETH, Zurich) said:

“The work performed by John Smith and colleagues in recent years has greatly contributed to the understanding of water circulation, especially in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. The advantage of using 129I as a transient tracer in oceanography is the long half-life (15.7 My) of this isotope compared to the circulation times, and the fact that it is largely soluble in seawater. Now, major efforts are also devoted to find other artificial radionuclides with similar sources and behaviour than 129I (e.g. 236U, 237Np) so that the more tools we have, the better we will understand the ocean circulation. Recent advances in mass spectrometry (ICP-MS and AMS) allow today for very low detection limits so that we can measure very low concentrations of these isotopes in deep ocean waters”.
https://phys.org/news/2017-08-129i-track-ocean-currents-km.html#jCp

August 18, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , | Leave a comment

World’s biggest problem is – endless Growth: technology will not save us

Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won’t Save Us, Post Carbon, Richard Heinberg, August 17, 2017 Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species, and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail……..

The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes. The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors. After all, everybody loves technology. It already does nearly everything for us.

Hello Humanity, it’s me, Technology. We need to talk

During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation, and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined. Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful.

I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity, and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating, and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.

The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).  Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.

In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point. Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations. These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.

Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed? Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether. Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice. Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope. The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either. A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.

The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself……

machines won’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path. Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had. http://www.postcarbon.org/why-climate-change-isnt-our-biggest-environmental-problem-and-why-technology-wont-save-us/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

China’s more rational response to the North Korean situation

China and the North Korean nuclear challenge, In Beijing’s eyes, the status quo is preferable to the upheaval that would result from action to topple Kim, Japan Times, BY RAMESH THAKUR, 17 Aug 17 GUANGZHOU, .ON A SUPERFICIAL READING, CHINA IS FEELING THE SQUEEZE TO TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION TO BRING NORTH KOREA TO HEEL OVER ITS ROGUE NUCLEAR PROGRAM. ON A DEEPER READING, CHINA’S GAINS FROM THE CRISIS EXCEED THE COSTS. ON A WIDER READING, WASHINGTON DAILY VINDICATES PYONGYANG’S NUCLEAR CHOICES……..

Stability and conflict-avoidance in its immediate region remains a vital national interest for China’s development and peaceful rise. Heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear antics risk an uncontrolled armed conflict, strengthened U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliances and enhanced prospects of nuclear breakouts by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

But China’s leverage over Pyongyang, although greater than that of others, is limited. Pyongyang has proven indifferent to what others think and impervious to external pressure. With 80 percent of trade with China, more U.N. sanctions amount to more sanctions on China. It is cost-free for Washington and Western countries to engage in virtue signaling by enacting still tougher international sanctions whose costs have to be borne by China.

If the sanctions succeed in destroying North Korea’s economy and engineer a collapse, millions of desperate refugees will flood into China and a crucial geographical buffer against U.S. forces will disappear.

By what right does Washington tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of its ally Israel but demand that China force a rollback of North Korea’s? In Beijing’s eyes, the U.S. provokes a crisis but holds China responsible for solving it. U.S. threats also stir memories among elderly Chinese of how they were treated in the early year’s of China’s own nuclear program.

Any further weakening of Pyongyang’s links with Beijing and Moscow will feed North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s siege paranoia and solidify reliance on nuclear weapons as the only assured guarantee of regime and personal survival. The U.S. record of infidelity to political package deals — the 1954 Geneva accords on Indochina, understandings with Russia on Eastern Europe on ending the Cold War, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s abandonment of his nuclear program — inspires distrust. Every fresh bellicose threat from Washington deepens Pyongyang’s dependence on and attachment to a nuclear deterrent that can strike the U.S. mainland.

On balance, therefore, in China’s calculation the status quo of a nuclearized North Korea, however unpalatable, is preferable to the upheaval that would result from military strikes or regime collapse. This is consistent with the sober conclusion of The Economist that all options for dealing with North Korea are bad but blundering into a war would be the worst………

Chinese President Xi Jinping is the very model of a circumspect, calm and statesmanlike leader urging restraint in rhetoric and action by both sides and calling for a phased program (freeze-for-freeze) to reduce tensions. Each new step on the escalation ladder does further damage to the U.S. reputation for responsible leadership while boosting China’s profile and prestige. It also obscures China’s own past culpability in enabling North Korea’s nuclear program while underlining the history of U.S. forcible regime change as the main driver of Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuit.

This, in turn, this amplifies the larger narrative of the diminishing U.S. presence in Asia…..

Japan and South Korea have managed to live for years with the reality of vulnerability to North Korea’s nukes. There is no reason why the U.S. cannot learn to do the same. Kim should be left in no doubt that an attack on any of the three allies would bring instant military strikes and elimination of the regime. But there will be no preventive strikes. Instead a policy of containment — which requires credible threats, not bluster — will be instituted along with risk avoidance and crisis stability measures that served all sides well during the Cold War.

The only genuine progress on eliminating nuclear threats will be a universal ban treaty followed by a verifiable and enforceable plan for destroying and dismantling nuclear weapons programs in all countries.

Professor Ramesh Thakur is director of the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/08/17/commentary/world-commentary/china-north-korean-nuclear-challenge/#.WZYqftIjHGg

August 18, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment