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Mediterranean now a global heating hotspot

Shortly after Easter this year, in the midst of a historic, multi-year
drought, temperatures in parts of the western Mediterranean climbed a
barely believable 20C higher than seasonal norms, hitting a
record-shattering 39C in southern Spain. And that was in April.

As global heating advances, July and August in the world’s most-visited holiday
destination – pre-Covid, more than 300 million tourists a year headed to
the Med, a figure some predict could rise to 500 million by the end of the
decade – risk becoming unbearable.

The Mediterranean basin is a global
heating hotspot. While the world is now about 1.1C warmer than it was in
the 1970s, the region is already up 1.5C and on course for 3C by the end of
the century (or 5C, in a worst-case scenario). Rising temperatures and more
frequent heatwaves are not the only challenge. Most climate models agree
that in most parts of the world, warmer will also mean wetter – but not in
the Med, where rainfall is set to plunge by between 10% and 60%.

Guardian 3rd June 2023


June 5, 2023 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Increasing heat could turn ocean plankton microbes into carbon emitters

Warming climate could turn ocean plankton microbes into carbon emitters.
New research finds that a warming climate could flip globally abundant
microbial communities from carbon sinks to carbon emitters, potentially
triggering climate change tipping points. The findings are published in
Functional Ecology. 1st June 2023

June 5, 2023 Posted by | climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

China swelters through record temperatures. And vulnerability of old people to heat waves

Temperatures across China reached or exceeded their records for the month
of May, the country’s National Climate Centre has said. Weather stations
at 446 sites registered temperatures that were the same as, or greater
than, the highest ever recorded for the month of May, deputy director of
the National Climate Centre Gao Rong said at a press briefing on Friday. On
Monday, the Shanghai Meteorology Bureau reported that the city had recorded
a temperature of 36.1 degrees Celsius. The previous record for May was
35.7C, which occurred in 2018. Over the next three days, most of southern
China is expected to be hit by temperatures of more than 35C, with
temperatures in some areas exceeding 40C, according to national forecasters
on Friday.

 Guardian 2nd June 2023

 New heatwave warnings could miss vulnerable older people who aren’t
online. Email alerts to warn public about dangers of hot weather will be
voluntary and will give advice on how to stay cool.

 Telegraph 1st June 2023

June 3, 2023 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

Extreme heat events have now become the new normal

global cooperation is needed to bolster society’s resilience to extreme heat and enhance its capacity to overcome climate challenges.

By Wei Ke | CHINA DAILY 2023-05-29

Since the first day of 2023, extreme heat events have increased the threat to human health and the environment. Europe experienced the warmest New Year in history, with temperatures in some places reaching early summer levels. The highest temperature, of 25.1 Celsius, was recorded in Bilbao, Spain. In Glucholazy, Poland, the temperature at 4 am on Jan 1 was as high as 18.7 C, more than the local average minimum summer temperature. And while at least eight European countries experienced their hottest New Year’s Day, more than 100 weather stations in France reported record-breaking temperatures.

Unlike gradual global warming which many people expect, extreme heat events have raised temperatures to historical highs in many places. On Jan 1 this year, temperatures in many places in France, Germany, Denmark and Latvia were exceptionally high. For example, the temperature in Berlin, Germany, was 16 C — normally, it hovers around 0 C during New Year.

According to the State of the Global Climate 2022 of the World Meteorological Organization, which was released on April 21, global temperatures in 2022 were 1.15 C higher compared with the pre-industrial levels from 1850 to 1900. Global warming is not a gradual and uniform process anymore; instead, it manifests through a succession of extreme heat events, continuously breaking high-temperature records worldwide.

There has been a significant increase in both the frequency and intensity of extreme heat events. According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s report, Human Cost of Disasters 2000-19, there were 432 instances of extreme heat events globally between 2000 and 2019 compared with just 130 instances between 1980 and 1999, an increase of a whopping 232 percent.

As the northern hemisphere enters the summer season, extreme heat events have become the norm, rather than the exception. On April 14, Tak province in northwestern Thailand recorded a scorching 45.4 C, breaking Thailand’s highest temperature record of 44.6 C set in Mae Hong Son province in 2016.

Record-breaking heat-waves have swept across Southeast Asia, South Asia and Central Asia, with temperatures crossing 42 C. And severe air pollution has further compounded the situation in many parts of Southeast Asia, and thus increased the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The impacts of high temperatures are far-reaching, not only affecting human life and health but also posing a threat to the environment and ecosystems. In 2020, more than 330 elephants in the southern region of Botswana died of cyanotoxin poisoning, as prolonged heat and drought led to a bloom of cyanobacteria in ponds and other water bodies. These cyanobacteria released a significant amount of cyanotoxins in the water bodies, which resulted in the poisoning and subsequent deaths of the elephants that consumed the toxic water.

Extreme heat and drought also contribute to wildfires. In 2019-20, Australia experienced severe heat waves that contributed to the devastating wildfires which lasted for a staggering nine months. While the wildfires caused an economic loss of about 10.3 billion Australian dollars ($6.73 billion), they also claimed the lives of or displaced nearly 3 billion animals — mammals including marsupials, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Worse, the wildfires emitted about 715 million tons of carbon dioxide, more than Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

One of the worst effects of global warming is the “wet gets wetter, dry gets drier” phenomenon, where humid regions experience increased rainfall and arid regions become drier — with the rainy season marked by more severe flooding and the dry season by intense drought.

According to the Human Cost of Disasters 2000-19 report, over the past 20 years, there has been a 134 percent increase in flood-related disasters, 97 percent increase in storms, 46 percent increase in wildfires, and 29 percent increase in droughts or drought-like conditions.

In addition, as the oceans warm, heat-waves emanating from the oceans and seas have become more common. The increasing warming of the ocean surface inhibits the absorption of oxygen by the water, which exacerbates the problem of oxygen depletion in the marine environment, posing a threat to the survival of marine animals and plants. Warmer ocean temperatures also contribute to the increasing frequency and severity of typhoons and hurricanes. And since such storms have a wider range extending to northern latitudes, regions like northeastern China could experience typhoons in the future.

In summer, extreme heat conditions in the northern hemisphere are becoming the norm, prompting the WMO to urge countries to issue early warnings and take early action. But while it is essential for governments and management agencies at all levels to issue weather alerts and forecasts, they should also pay greater attention to the rights of vulnerable groups, including people who work outdoors during hot weather.

Building public heat shelters to protect people during orange and red heat alerts is essential. Especially, public activity centers, libraries and other government facilities allow outdoor workers to avoid working during the hottest hours of the day. As for people in general, they should closely follow weather forecasts and warnings so they can avoid the risk of heatstroke by not venturing out during extreme heat events.

Yet global temperatures will continue to rise as greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to reduce drastically in the next 20-30 years. Therefore, economies around the world, especially the major economies, should intensify efforts to reduce emissions. The public, on its part, can contribute to the global efforts to mitigate climate change by adopting simple habits including switching off lights when not in use, recycling products, reducing the use of cars, changing the food habit, and refraining from compulsive shopping. These slight changes in habits can help lower individuals’ carbon footprint and thus reduce emissions.

But global cooperation is needed to bolster society’s resilience to extreme heat and enhance its capacity to overcome climate challenges.

June 1, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Freak May typhoon shows Philippines is now in constant state of climate emergency

‘Super typhoons have become our new normal,’ activists say

Stuti Mishra, 30 May 23

Typhoon Mawar, an unusually intense cyclone that has struck Guam and the Philippines before heading towards Taiwan and southern Japan, shows the southeast Asian country is in a “constant state of climate emergency”, activists have said, demanding reparations for vulnerable nations.

In a statement released on Monday, Greenpeace International demanded fossil fuel companies take responsibility for the intensifying extreme weather events seen worldwide and pay reparations for climate impacts.

The typhoon left Guam flooded and without power for days and has prompted evacuations and amid extreme weather warnings in the Philippines.

Mawar, known locally in the Philippines as typhoon Betty, is the strongest typhoon of the year so far and the strongest northern hemisphere cyclone ever recorded in the month of May.

“The Philippines is in a constant state of climate emergency,” said Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Jefferson Chua.

June 1, 2023 Posted by | climate change, Philippines | Leave a comment

Rock ‘flour’ from Greenland can capture significant CO2, study shows

Powder produced by ice sheets could be used to help tackle climate crisis when spread on farm fields

Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington, Tue 30 May 2023

Rock “flour” produced by the grinding under Greenland’s glaciers can trap climate-heating carbon dioxide when spread on farm fields, research has shown for the first time.

Natural chemical reactions break down the rock powder and lead to CO2 from the air being fixed in new carbonate minerals. Scientists believe measures to speed up the process, called enhanced rock weathering (ERW), have global potential and could remove billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to prevent extreme global heating…………..

Greenland’s giant ice sheet produces 1bn tonnes a year of rock flour, which flows as mud from under the glaciers. This means the potential supply of rock flour is essentially unlimited, the researchers said, and removing some would have very little effect on the local environment.

The weathering process is relatively slow, taking decades to complete, but the researchers said ERW could make a meaningful difference in meeting the key target of net zero emissions by 2050. Phasing out the burning of fossil fuels remains the most critical climate action, but most scientists agree that ways of removing CO2 from the atmosphere will also be needed to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

“If you want something to have a global impact, it has to be very simple,” said Prof Minik Rosing at the University of Copenhagen, who was part of the research team. “You can’t have very sophisticated things with all kinds of hi-tech components. So the simpler the better, and nothing is simpler than mud.”

He added: “Above all this is a scalable solution. Rock flour has been piling up in Greenland for the past 8,000 years or so. The whole Earth’s agricultural areas could be covered with this, if you wished.”……………………………………………………………….more

June 1, 2023 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Thawing glaciers around Everest show critical need to stop greenhouse emissions

 Helen Clark – former prime minister of New Zealand: Global temperature
rises mean that Everest, in common with mountains across the Himalayas, is
undergoing unprecedented and irreversible change. The 79 glaciers that
surround Everest have thinned by more than 100 metres (328ft) in just six
decades, and the rate of thinning has nearly doubled since 2009.

Communities at the top of the world are crying out to world leaders for
help. Humanity has a mountain to climb in reaching the aspirations of the
Paris Agreement. The only hope is for concerted global action to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions dramatically to save the world’s snow and ice
before it is too late.

 Times 29th May 2023

May 30, 2023 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Sea level rise will “disappear” California’s famed beaches

 California is known for golden sands and endless waves, but much of the
state’s famous shoreline could vanish in the future. That’s according
to a new study, which found that between 25% and 70% of California beaches
might be washed away by the end of the century, leaving only cliffs or
coastal infrastructure in their wake.

 Guardian 27th May 2023

May 30, 2023 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Insurance giant halts sale of new home policies in California due to wildfires

 The insurance giant State Farm, America’s biggest car and home insurer
by premium volume, will halt the sale of new home insurance policies in
California, citing wildfire risk and inflation of construction costs.
Starting on Saturday, the company will not accept insurance applications
for business and personal lines property and casualty insurance. The
company will still accept auto insurance applicants.

 Guardian 27th May 2023

May 30, 2023 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

More than 1,500 arrested at Extinction Rebellion protest in The Hague

 More than 1,500 climate protesters have been arrested by police in the
Netherlands after blocking a major motorway in The Hague. During the
protest, organised by Extinction Rebellion, activists walked onto the A12
highway demanding an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Police fired water
cannon to try to disperse the crowds – but many came prepared in raincoats
and swimsuits. Most arrested protesters were released, but police said 40
would be prosecuted. Among those at Saturday’s protest were several Dutch
celebrities, including actress Carice van Houten, known for playing
Melisandre in TV series Game of Thrones. She was arrested but later allowed
to return home, Dutch news agency ANP said. Extinction Rebellion accused
police of using water cannon just 15 minutes after the start of the
blockade – but police said they had asked the activists to leave and gave
them a chance to do so before using the water cannon.

 BBC 27th May 2023

 Guardian 27th May 2023

May 29, 2023 Posted by | climate change, Legal | Leave a comment

Slowing ocean current caused by melting Antarctic ice could have drastic climate impact, study says

The Southern Ocean overturning circulation has ebbed 30% since the 90s, CSIRO scientist claims, leading to higher sea levels and changing weather

Donna Lu, Guardian, 26 May 23

A major global deep ocean current has slowed down by approximately 30% since the 1990s as a result of melting Antarctic ice, which could have critical consequences for Earth’s climate patterns and sea levels, new research suggests.

Known as the Southern Ocean overturning circulation, the global circulation system plays a key role in influencing the Earth’s climate, including rainfall and warming patterns. It also determines how much heat and carbon dioxide the oceans store.

Scientists warn that its slowdown could have drastic impacts, including increasing sea levels, altering weather patterns and depriving marine ecosystems of vital nutrients.

“Changes in the overturning circulation are a big deal,” said the study’s co-author, Dr Steve Rintoul, an oceanographer and expert on the Southern Ocean at the Australian government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

It’s something that is a concern because it touches on so many aspects of the Earth, including climate, sea level, and marine life.”

The finding comes months after modelling, which Rintoul was involved in, that predicted a 40% slowdown in the circulation by 2050.

“The model projections of rapid change in the deep ocean circulation in response to melting of Antarctic ice might, if anything, have been conservative,” Rintoul said. “We’re seeing changes have already happened in the ocean that were not projected to happen until a few decades from now.”

………………………………………….. The study looked specifically at changes in overturning circulation in the Australian Antarctic basin, but the researchers believe a “circumpolar slowdown” is occurring.


“We expect in the longer term that while there will be ups and downs related to sea ice formation, the overall trend is that Antarctica is losing more ice, is melting more, and that will gradually slow down this overturning circulation.

“Unless we act soon we will commit ourselves to changes that we’d really rather avoid,” he said. “We need to act to reduce emissions and we need to do everything we can as fast as we can.”

The study, whose first author is Kathryn Gunn of the CSIRO and the University of Southampton, was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

May 28, 2023 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | 1 Comment

Hinkley Point C – Why nuclear power accelerates carbon emissions  Kayla Ente on 21/04/2023 These carbon emissions have already been absorbed in the atmosphere, long before the plant starts producing electricity. Renewable sources of energy (like the three windfarms in Kent powering 400,000 homes) are cheaper, come with much less associated environmental destruction, and have a carbon footprint a fraction of the carbon emissions produced by the concrete footprint of nuclear power.

by Kayla Ente on 21/04/2023

In August 2018, Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone published their working paper exposing the link between the fissile material produced by nuclear power plants and its importance for military purposes, where depleted uranium is used in weaponry and in submarines1.

The British government now openly admits that the taxpayer subsidises nuclear used for military purposes in our energy bills2. This is the motivation behind the ‘Regulated Asset Base’ (RAB) funding model proposed by the Government to finance new nuclear power.  We will all pay for the construction of new nuclear power plants through higher energy bills.    

Nuclear power is expensive, toxic and there is no solution for its long term storage. It is powerfully destructive, not only for its use in weaponry, but also leads to an increase in levels of radioactive materials in the air, as has been measured at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston3.

As cancer rates in the UK rise to unprecedented heights, access to health care declines, and more people and businesses cannot afford to pay their energy bills, one must question the wisdom of UK energy policy and how it is manipulated to our detriment.

Hinkley Point C will produce 25TWh of electricity per year. As the electricity is produced whether there is demand for it or not, because a nuclear power plant cannot be switched off spontaneously, the present system of financing means that the taxpayer will fund the wastage that occurs on the grid when nuclear powered electricity generated is not used.

Historically, approximately 64% of energy produced by the centralised energy generation and transmission system has been wasted4.  This happens in the production of electricity – the efficiency of the plants themselves, the heat generated that is wasted and the transmission and distribution of electricity across the country.  Therefore, the projected carbon emissions savings are overstated because most of the electricity produced is not used, or worse, clean renewable power is switched off to manage oversupply of electricity on the grid.

Construction on the 3.26GW Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset began in 2016. Unprecedented feats of engineering have been achieved during the process, of which engineers are rightly proud.

In total, 74,600 tonnes of concrete has been poured to construct its base, the four intake heads and two outfall heads. 3km of cement tunnels have been constructed to expel the cooling water for the plant into the Bristol Channel. 

These carbon emissions have already been absorbed in the atmosphere, long before the plant starts producing electricity. Renewable sources of energy (like the three windfarms in Kent powering 400,000 homes) are cheaper, come with much less associated environmental destruction, and have a carbon footprint a fraction of the carbon emissions produced by the concrete footprint of nuclear power.

The newest nuclear renaissance, “Great British Nuclear”  is part of the government’s efforts to include nuclear power in the UK green taxonomy, i.e. that nuclear power is considered to be “environmentally sustainable”. Many see this as part of the government’s attempts to defer important investment away from wind and solar power developments (combined with investment in grid scale energy storage to ensure reliability). Because wind and solar power are the cheapest source of electricity, they embed affordability into our self sufficient energy future. They also bring higher gross value added to government accounts, as opposed to investments in carbon capture and storage which only add to the cost of generation, just to continue burning fossil fuels.

By focusing efforts on investing in partnerships with other NATO aligned countries (the USA spends $840 billion every year on its “defence” programme) in the spirit of Brexit, this government irresponsibly spends taxpayer’s money on programmes that maintain business as usual to burn fossil fuels and promote nuclear power instead of protecting its people during times of unprecedented suffering in social care, health care and energy security.

BHESCo have been saying for years that new nuclear power is a bad deal for the UK taxpayer and for the planet. Our Government should be directing its investment towards a national energy efficiency improvement campaign while encouraging the development of clean, renewable energy generation and energy storage.

May 26, 2023 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

A clean energy transition means moving away from nuclear power

Because we’ve stalled for so long in getting off coal, oil and gas for electricity generation, we need solutions that can be scaled up quickly and affordably.

the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment report shows that nuclear power delivers only 10 per cent of the results of wind and solar at far higher costs.

by David SuzukiMay 24, 2023

As the impacts of climate disruption become more frequent and intense, we need a range of solutions. One that’s getting a lot of attention is nuclear power.

Industry is pushing hard for it, especially “small modular reactors,” and the federal government has offered support and tax incentives. After 30 years without building any new reactors, Ontario is also jumping onto the nuclear bandwagon again. How should we react?

Along with its many known problems, as an inflexible, costly baseload power source, nuclear is becoming as outdated as fossil fuels. Small modular reactors will create even more waste and cost more — and slow the necessary transition to renewable energy.

Many disadvantages of nuclear are well known. It can contribute to weapons proliferation. Radioactive waste remains highly toxic for a long time and must be carefully and permanently stored or disposed of. And while serious accidents are rare, they can be devastating and difficult to deal with, as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters demonstrated.

Uranium to fuel nuclear also raises problems, including high rates of lung cancer in miners and emissions from mining, transport and refining. Add that to the water vapour and heat it releases, and nuclear power produces “on average 23 times the emissions per unit electricity generated” as onshore wind, according to Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson.

But the biggest issues are that nuclear power is expensive — at least five times more than wind and solar — and takes a long time to plan and build. Small modular reactors are likely to be even more expensive, especially considering they’ll produce far less electricity than larger plants. And because the various models are still at the prototype stage, they won’t be available soon.

Because we’ve stalled for so long in getting off coal, oil and gas for electricity generation, we need solutions that can be scaled up quickly and affordably.

The last nuclear plant built in Ontario, Darlington, ended up costing $14.4 billion, almost four times the initial estimate. It took from 1981 to 1993 to construct (and years before that to plan) and is now being refurbished at an estimated cost of close to $13 billion. In 1998, Ontario Hydro faced the equivalent of bankruptcy, in part because of Darlington.

Ontario’s experience isn’t unique. A Boston University study of more than 400 large-scale electricity projects around the world over the past 80 years found “on average, nuclear plants cost more than double their original budgets and took 64 per cent longer to build than projected,” the Toronto Star reports. “Wind and solar, by contrast, had average cost overruns of 7.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.”

China has been building more nuclear power plants than any other country — 50 over the past 20 years. But in half that time, it has added 13 times more wind and solar capacity.

As renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage technologies continue to rapidly improve and come down in price, costs for nuclear are rising. As we recently noted, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment report shows that nuclear power delivers only 10 per cent of the results of wind and solar at far higher costs. In the time it takes to plan and build nuclear, including small modular reactors, and for much less money, we could be putting far more wind, solar and geothermal online, and developing and increasing storage capacity, grid flexibility and energy efficiency.

The amount it will cost to build out sufficient nuclear power — some of which must come in the form of taxpayer subsidies — could be better put to more quickly improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

Putting money and resources into nuclear appears to be an attempt to stall renewable electricity uptake and grid modernization. Small modular reactors are likely to cost even more than large plants for the electricity they generate. And, because more will be required, they pose increased safety issues.

David Suzuki Foundation research shows how Canada could get 100 per cent reliable, affordable, emissions-free electricity by 2035 — without resorting to expensive and potentially dangerous (and, in the case of small modular reactors, untested) technologies like nuclear.

May 25, 2023 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Global heating is predicted to trigger more nuclear outages in France every year.

extreme heat and droughts amid
climate change could impact nuclear plants, which use water to cool down.

 EDF expects to lose 1.5% of its nuclear output, or about 5 TWh, annually
by 2050 due to the impact of global warming based on an average production
of 400 TWh, an executive said on Tuesday.

This compares with a current
average loss of nuclear power output caused by global warming of 0.3%, or
1.2 TWh, Cecile Laugier, head of environment at EDF’s nuclear branch,
told reporters. This echoes a report released in March by France’s Court
of Auditors, which said global warming could trigger three to four times
more outages than today. Increased risk of extreme heat and droughts amid
climate change could impact nuclear plants, which use water to cool down.

 Montel 16th May 2023–edf

May 20, 2023 Posted by | climate change, France | Leave a comment

Siting new nuclear power stations — an unsustainable geography 16 May 23 ‘The government’s ambition to achieve energy and environmental security by ramping up the development of nuclear power stations faces a significant obstacle — the lack of sites on which to build them.

As Andrew Blowers points out in the latest issue of Town & Country Planning, the Journal of the Town and Country Planning Association, the need for suitable and acceptable sites on which to deploy a variety of new nuclear power stations, ranging from big GW (gigawatt) behemoths to Small (or not so small) Modular Reactors (SMRs), is a pressing, although much neglected issue.

There is a presumption in government and the nuclear industry that sites in suitable locations will be available and ready for development. But, in reality there are only a handful of sites, eight to be precise, deemed ‘potentially suitable’ in the government’s outdated and unrevised National Policy Statement of 2011. And only one of these, Hinkley Point, has secured all the necessary planning and environmental permits and regulatory licences necessary for its go-ahead.

In truth, the geography of nuclear power has barely changed, frozen in aspic since it was first established over half a century ago. There is an increasing disjunction between the ring of coastal sites on which the early generations of big power stations were built and the present-day absence of sites that are suitable for the varied fleet of nuclear stations in prospect in an era of climate change.

Without a new siting strategy. there is a severe danger that new nuclear power stations with attendant radioactive waste stores will be located in places that are wholly unsuitable and unsustainable during the century or more that dangerous radioactivity will remain on sites.

n the article, Andrew Blowers, Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences at the Open University and former member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), traces the history of nuclear siting in Britain from its origins shrouded in military secrecy in obscure locations, notably Sellafield in West Cumbria and Dounreay in the far north of Scotland. The age of civil nuclear energy was ushered in by the White Paper A Programme of Nuclear Power in 1955. The first generation of Magnox stations was constructed during the 1950s and 1960s at coastal sites providing cooling water, suitable land and remoteness.1 By 1971, with Wylfa in North Wales coming on stream, there were 11 stations, all bar one in coastal and estuarial locations.

This pattern was reinforced and slightly extended by the second-generation AGR (Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor) stations completed mainly during the 1970s, either alongside Magnox stations or at new but still coastal sites (Hartlepool, Heysham, and Torness). By the end of the 1970s the geography of nuclear power in Britain was complete.
Since then only one station, Sizewell B, has come on stream. The abortive ‘nuclear renaissance’ proclaimed by Tony Blair gave birth to one solitary project, the controversial, expensive and late-running Hinkley Point C. By 2020 the programme for development on eight ‘potentially suitable’ existing sites had begun to look dead in the water. But, once again nuclear is rising Phoenix-like in the form of a truly enormous and quite unattainable programme for 24GW of electricity from nuclear power stations large and small conjured up by Boris Johnson.

Nuclear operators have been eyeing up existing sites. But there is no overall plan, there are no sites immediately available, and several of the existing sites identified as ‘potentially suitable’ face trenchant opposition or are quite unsuitable.

Four observations can be made. First, existing sites were established long ago at a time when environmental concerns were subordinate. Second, the attempts to revive nuclear power during this century have confirmed the existing pattern of sites. Third, the criteria of site selection require fundamental revision in the light of the dire prospects for several existing sites in an era of accelerating impacts of climate change. But, fourth and most perversely, attempts at strategic site planning have proved no constraint on the prospects for existing sites to be appropriated by government and the nuclear industry.

In short, strategic siting of nuclear power stations is a case of retrospective legitimation of sites selected under quite different economic, technical and, above all, environmental conditions to those pertaining today. It is possible that sites that reflect a bygone age may yet survive into the unmanageable conditions of the future.’

Note 1: The Magnox stations were at Calder Hall and Chapel Cross (dual-use military and civil) and Bradwell, Sizewell, Dungeness, Berkeley, Oldbury, Hinkley Point (in England), Wylfa (Wales) and Hunterston (Scotland). Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia was the only inland location.

Links to related articles……….

May 18, 2023 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment